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Books are always better than movies

Queen of the Damned

There's something innately creepy about seeing someone who's dead up on the screen, especially when that person is playing one of the Undead. First it was Brandon Lee in The Crow - and now it's Aaliyah playing Queen Akasha in <i>Queen of the Damned</i>, based on the Anne Rice novel of the same name. Although the movie doesn't stray completely off from the plot of the book, it moves too fast for you to get any real sense of the characters or their motivations.

The vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend trying way too hard to act sexy) has awoken from a deep slumber and decides to become a living god, which to him means becoming a rock star. However, this violates the vampire code of conduct, which explicitly states that they are supposed to keep a low profile. 99.9% of the world's vamps, including Lestat's maker Marius
(Vincent Perez), are pissed off, except for one - Queen Akasha, who rises once again after being stimulated by Lestat's rebellious behavior. Also in the mix is the subplot of a young researcher of the paranormal, Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), who becomes obsessed with Lestat and believes that somehow he can help her find out more about her mysterious past.

As compared to an earlier treatment of Rice's work, <i>Interview with a Vampire</i>, which was more focused on character development, <i>Queen of the Damned</i> is flashier, darker and reeks of MTV. During some scenes you might need earplugs to protect yourself from the blaring music, best described as metal rock (or in my opinion just plain 'bad'). All in all, the movie is more flash than substance; it's too glib and loud for you to really comprehend the story.

The best part of the movie occurs during a flashback sequence in which you are led through a brief history of Lestat's character. One reason it's so interesting is that it runs more slowly and it's informative unlike the rest of the film. Indeed, those audience members who have not read the book may find themselves lost at times or wanting more information.

I'm not exactly sure why vampires, more than any other demonic or evil creature, always gets portrayed as sexy, beautiful beasts but the amount of flaunting and vampire-worship in this movie goes over the edge. Every other scene seemed to have some fang-toothed person imploring "Look at me - I'm so beautiful!" Rice does eroticize vampires but maybe that was better left on the pages where it could develop in the imagination
of readers rather than seen on screen.

Furthermore, if you are a true, earnest fan of
Aaliyah, I would advise you not to see this movie. At the end of the film, a placard notes that the film was made in her memory. Being portrayed as an evil, bloodthirsty psycho-bitch, is not exactly how, I'm assuming, the late singer and actress would want to have been remembered.

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Queen of the Damned
Rated R
1 hour 41 minutes

Aaliyah
Stuart Townsend
Marguerite Moreau
Claudia Black
Vincent Perez

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