Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Which is better? Queen of the Damned

Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned, without a doubt, are Anne Rice's best work. Despite being completely different books, Interview, Vampire and Damned are eloquently written, bringing to life Rice's vampires and the lore surrounding vampirism. Though the series does not open up with Lestat, the "Brat Prince" clearly steals the show in the next two books. However, he does not overshadow Rice's supporting characters and adversaries. The reader isn't bothered to read about others besides Lestat, but when he comes back into the picture, they are overjoyed.

"Queen of the Damned" movie starring Stuart Townsend,  Marguerite Moreau and R.I.P, Aaliyah, however, doesn't hold a candle up to the books. I can handle campy, low budget movies (and this movie was defo LOW budget), but this movie does a disservice to the books. 

Side note: Stuart Townsend must have the most tragic film career. He turned down the role of Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings" to play Dorian Grey in "League of Extraordinary Gentleman." He used to date, maybe even be married, to Charlize Theron, who is now the biggest superstar in the world. According to google, he has a secret family in Costa Rica. Oh, Stuart, what are you doing, man? 

I watched "Queen of the Damned" with my writing partner in crime, Ashley. Now, I read the books, I know what is supposed to happen, and who are all the characters, but it's a bad sign when someone who hasn't read the books turned to you during the movie to ask for clarification. She watched the movie before, so even now, after watching the movie the second time, she still has questions! 

"Queen of the Damned" movie adapted two books, The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned and meshed it into one movie. Ok, I would argue it's very hard to do something like that, but it can be done. What they did next, never the less, was water it down to the point where characters were making choices that had no basis in logic or reason just to move the story along. The movie also took a crap load of characters out of the book and focused on Jesse, who is a character in the book, but minor at best. So in order to go step by step in what the movie missed, I'm going to go by the characters. 

Lestat: What made The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned so compelling was the first person point of view of the antagonist from Interview with the Vampire. Lestat is "the brat prince" but is torn between his own selfishness, his love of immortality, but also, what it means for his existence in a place that was not meant for him. In order to find other vampires, namely, 'Those who Must be Kept', he decides he will become a rock star. He is self-destructive but curious to meet the original vampires. It is very clear in the books what motivates Lestat. Lestat in the movie, you don't quite get where he's going. There are a few monologues but I found them to be lacking. To be honest, I just saw the movie a few nights ago, and I have no idea what they were about. Townsend does OK as Lestat, but he has some big shoes to fill with Tom Cruise as the original Lestat (wow, I can't believe Scientologist Tom Cruise actually played Lestat and did a great job of it). Also, Lestat is supposed to be blond. This fact is mentioned several times in the books and also, one of the reasons why he was made a vampire to begin with. COULDN'T TOWNSEND HAVE WORN A WIG? 

Maharet: Alright, not only does the movie chopped the twins in half, they also make Maharet, who is one bad ass bitch in the books, play second fiddle to Jesse, who I will discuss later. You see her briefly looking at a literal family tree (uh... ok, script writers, we get it, there is a great family), telling Jesse to "stay with her own kind" and then you see none of her until the end where Lestat is about to play at the concert. At the end she defeats Akasha but you don't know why, or how... and then they turn her into stone. Literal stone. "Those Who Must be Kept" aren't literally stone... which is also a point that is driven home by Rice several times in the book. Rice's vampires don't turn to stone. If they had gone into her backstory with her twin, Mekare and the start of vampirism, the whole 'last blood' deal would have made far more sense... and they wouldn't have had to turn Maharet into stone. It would have also clarified the conflict between the vampires and Akasha. Mekare is also such a cool character and what happened to them would have underlined what a terrible Queen Akasha is.

Marius: Alright, so Marius is very eye-roll-y in the books as well. He's like a super old vampire who is very angsty (like Louie on steroids) and reallllly likes young boys. There is this whole backstory with Armand, but I digress. I'm not sure if they knew what to do with the character of Marius in the movie, because his character is all over the place. One minute he's super serious, and then he's super silly. Marius, like all of Rice's vampires, is supposed to be gorgeous. Marius, at best in the movie, is OK. He's not terrible looking, but he does have a 5 head that he needs to fix. It would have helped the story immensely if they capitalized on the complex and ultimately treasonous relationship he has with 'Those Who Must be Kept' and Lestat. Though Marius protected the stoned original vampires for centuries without ever a thank you, Akasha gives Lestat her blood within a few days of Lestat staying with Marius. When Akasha awakes, she almost kills Marius when she destroys his home without a second thought.

Akasha: I'm sad that the singer's life was cut short. I never really understood the hype surrounding Aaliyah's death (recording studios had memorials about her and her face on tee-shirts and stuff for YEARS) since she only had a few hit songs and acted in 2 films, but after actually seeing her in this movie, Aaliyah had so much potential. When she was on screen, she outshined her cast mates, even Townsend. At one point in the movie, Ashley turned to me and stated, 'Now, I believe she's a vampire.' Now, in the books, she is a force to be reckoned with and her master plan is truly diabolical. If the movie showed more of what she could do and even revealed her plan of destroying vampire kind and mankind in order for women to worship her, then the drive for the vampires to destroy her would have made a ton more sense.

David Talbot: I have to keep reminding myself that he doesn't become a bigger character until later on in the Vampire Chronicles. That being said, I'm so disappointed with their casting choice. He is an old man. He lived a full life in the Talamasca and when Lestat and David start their relationship later on, this theme is poignant. They casted a man who's clearly in his 40s who then tells Jesse that he's 'too old' to be a vampire. Sigh. Then at the end, they have Marius go to him? Why? Is Marius going to turn David or eat him? Weird.

Jesse Reeves: It's very clear who Jesse is meant to represent in the movie. She is meant to represent the viewer, who is entranced by the vampire world and of Lestat. Now, it's important to note that here, Ashley also asked the question, 'wait, why is Jesse obsessed with Lestat?' We could argue that she's obsessed with Lestat just like everyone else is; he's a beautiful rock star vampire. However, in the books, this is not so. Jesse is a minor character at best, who helps the others track down Lestat and defeat Akasha. She is the point of reference for Maharet and Mekare and really, Jesse is the focus of the family that Maharet followed for generations. However, the viewer gets none of that in the movie. At one point, another vampire mentions that Akasha wants to destroy Maharet's "great family" but that's where it's left off. There is much more to why Maharet and Akasha are at odds with each other, which again, if the movie added that to the plot, would have made more sense to why they all want to kill Akasha.

Talamasca: This organization appears in several Anne Rice books, with the Mayfair Witches, the cross over books and the Vampire Chronicles. I'm happy that they used it, and had David and Jesse apart of it. I think the Talamasca organization is so cool. Maybe Anne Rice would just write a book or two about their adventures? I have no qualms with how the movie depicted the organization. I'm delighted it was even mentioned at all.

"Interview with the Vampire" is such a good movie, with a top notch cast. "Queen of the Damned," it's sequel, is a joke. From the horrible casting (besides for a few noted actors, Aaliyah included) and the absolutely shot-y script that takes 2 books, and gutted both of them to come up with a watered down movie that makes no sense, the movie isn't even good to watch ironically. Even though Aaliyah's charisma and enthusiasm is shines through, it's a shame that this movie was dedicated to her. 

Townsend... what are you doing, Man?! 

No comments:

Post a Comment