Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Queen of the Damned - Review - @BrandonCSites / #Aaliyah

Queen of the Damned (2002) *1/2
D: Michael Rymer
C: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Vincent Perez, Paul McGann, Lena Olin
P: A vampire awakens from a centuries long slumber to reemerge as a rock star angering his fellow vampires and garnering the interest of the 'Queen of the Damned'.

It's hard to imagine just who Warner Brothers had in mind for their audience when making this film. Those looking for a faithful adaptation of the Anne Rice novel, will be greatly disappointed. Those looking for a scary vampire film, will find that this film is devoid of scares. And those looking for a film that is so bad, it's good will be disappointed, because Queen of the Damned takes itself so seriously that it manages to be one of those rare films that is both silly and boring at the same time. Luckily for Warner Brothers, raising star Aaliyah died shortly before the film's release, so they were able to cash in on those wanting to see Aaliyah, on screen, one final time.

Stuart Townsend, who is supposed to anchor this film, is as wooden as ever lacking the screen presence or charisma needed to flesh out his rocker vampire character. The film does come to life when Aaliyah comes to claim Townsend as her vampire lover. Unfortunately, most of these scenes are regulated towards the end of the film. 

Townsend and Aaliyah have sex. Aaliyah then slaughters a few hundred people over the course of one night. Townsend has met someone that makes him feel something, a vampire who is his equal and that completes him. However, Townsend has a moral conundrum and plots with other vampires to take down Aaliyah. Townsend and company don't like how the Queen of the Damned lives her life openly amongst humans and treats humans like cattle. They want to go back to living their lives in the shadows. I found this part of the film to be quite puzzling.

Townsend's character has token pleasure in hunting humans, being bold and open about being a vampire with the public and engaging in other forms of debauchery. Why the sudden change in attitude? I would have rather seen a film in which maybe Townsend and Aaliyah run off to rule the world and live their lives openly as vampires. 

I also found it bewildering that Townsend's character is so quick to turn on Aaliyah. His whole life, he has searched for someone that accepts him and respects him as is. He finds that in form of Aaliyah and he is willing to turn on her in a microsecond.

While I was bored with most of the film, I did find Aaliyah's Queen character to be intriguing. Her performance isn't good in any sense of the word, but at least she has some sizzle and spark and is able to enliven the film. Overall, Queen of the Damned is one giant setup to Townsend and Aaliyah meeting up. I wish that Queen of the Damned had the conviction to follow through with what they had setup, to Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend's characters living openly as vampires, even if it was morally repugnant and even if it wasn't your traditional Hollywood happy ending. [R] 109 mins.

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