"Queen of the Damned" by Anne Rice and, while I am not so fond of her later work and cannot condone some of her online behaviour, I think this book is a triumph. In my infinite wisdom I decided that having just reread the book, watching the film would be fun. This was a BAD PLAN!
"Queen of the Damned" the movie is not a bad vampire film, except for the unused, totally irrelevant characters that litter it, but it is a very, very bad adaption of the book. The mistake the film makes is trying to be too like the book while not actually being enough like the book at all. "Interview with the Vampire" is a superb example of an adaption from a book, "Queen of the Damned" is the opposite end of the spectrum.
The first fatal mistake they made when making "Queen of the Damned" was casting. Aaliyah, while being stunningly beautiful and sensual could not act her way out of a paper bag IMHO. I just didn't feel anything from her at all. Stuart Townsend wasn't so bad as Lestat, although he was just a little bit too tortured for my liking. Let's not talk about Armand or any of the other vampires they tried to use as background without actually introducing them at all.
Where they did get it spot on was Marguerite Moreau as Jesse and Paul McGann as David. They were both superb.
Their second moronic decision was to try and do "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned" in one film. "Queen of the Damned" has more than enough plot for two movies all by itself and Lestat came off as a whiny little brat with little to no depth. Lestat may be a brat prince, but he definitely has depth.
This meant they left out the story of the twins, which is pretty fundamental to the whole book. Removing the story of the twins removes the whole underlying plot and leaves you with exactly what we were given: a scary arse vampire on the rampage, a vampire who likes to sing and a bunch of vamps we know nothing about trying to stop her for no reason we have been clued in on.
Let's also not forget that the Great Family has been reduced to one badly done wall.
They diminished everything so the story went from a great book to an average vampire film with some huge plot holes, because they relied on the fact the audience would know the book.
Shall we consider what they left out?
Firstly, important characters: let's start with Louis, you know, the vampire that started it all by telling his story in "Interview with the Vampire". He's not even worth a virtually nameless cameo. Gabrielle: Lestat's mother, one of the most important people in Lestat's life. Daniel: the reporter from "Interview with the Vampire" who has become Armand's human and is turned by him after nearly managing to kill himself with neglect. He is incredibly important as the human element in the book. Mekare: Maharet's twin and the reason for half the plot actually happening. You might not even remember Maharet's name either from the movie, even though in the book she's probably the fourth most important character for plot development.
Then there are the characters they did decide to put in, but never actually named or gave any background in the film: Armand, Pandora, Khayman, Mael. With no explanation as to why they came together or why they were fighting Akasha they were pointless and may as well have been written out. They were only there to die, which was incredibly over dramatic and unnecessary.
I've already mentioned they left out the tale of the twins, they also left out the fact that Jesse is psychic, which is why she was with the Talamasca in the first place. They missed out Akasha's crusade against her own kind, nearly wiping them off the face of the planet. It's why all these really powerful vampires ended up in the same place: survival. Of course if they'd mentioned that they would have had to put in her deeper reasons for doing it, rather than deciding she was just a mindless psychopath who liked killing. Akasha had reasons for everything she did, high ideals that were clearly insane, but very real to her; that was what made her so dangerous and why Lestat's rejection of her was so important. She was trying to make the world a better place even if she was totally psychotic about the way she did it.
Oh and I of course have to mention the pinnacle of the whole idiocy: the turning into a statue part. What?! Why would Akasha's blood make Maharet turn into a statue? That was not the point. The point was if Akasha died they all died, because she held the force that made them all vampires. That was the danger, not turning into alabaster. Also, why did their clothes change when they were statues? Do we have vampire clothes now? Did the vampire power possess cloth too? I cannot begin to express how stupid I thought the end of the film was, even by vampire movie standards. If cannibalism was too icky to put in a movie about blood-drinking monsters, come up with something else, something sensible along the same lines, it's not hard! Let's face it, the easiest out would have been everyone to think they were dying, but because Lestat had taken so much of Akasha into himself he became the source.
How such a beautifully crafted story could have been reduced so badly I will never know. I wish Hollywood would realise that if you want to do a book adaption you should do it properly a la Lord of the Rings (they took out all the what-the-hell parts, e.g. Tom Bombadil, updated it a bit so the girls had something to do and left all the important bits in). If you want to do a film like "Queen of the Damned" turned out, call it 'inspired by' and then write out all the bits that are entirely unnecessary.
Marius, Lestat, Jesse and Akasha could have carried the whole film, the others didn't need to be in it as it was written. Their presence was plain annoying.
So to sum up: "Queen of the Damned" is a great book, I thoroughly recommend it. "Queen of the Damned" the movie is an average vampire film, but only if you haven't read the book in the last, probably three years to be safe, and you don't care that the end is very silly. My husband rolled his eyes at me as we watched the movie and commented, "You know, every time we watch this you spend the whole time yelling at the screen about what's wrong with it."
Please feel free to counter my opinions, because they are just that, opinions :). I may possibly be a little too invested in the book - LOL.
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