"Queen of the Damned" delivers a fan-pleasing Blu-ray release on a single-disc package containing the film's HD copy and a couple of supplements. Based on "The Vampire Chronicles" by Anne Rice, whose work was previously adapted to the screen in "Interview with the Vampire," this standalone adaptation of the pseudo-erotic vampire series condenses two densely plotted stories. The first one focuses on the undead antihero Lestat and his career as a rock star. The second focuses on the millennia-old mother of all vampires, the first immortal bloodsucker Queen Akasha.
This 2002 horror-fantasy thriller by Michael Rymer features Aaliyah as Queen Akasha, the ancient immortal set on world domination, and Stuart Townsend as Lestat, the vampire musician whose powerful Goth-riffed music rekindles the desires of the all-powerful queen after her very long slumber. The movie faced insurmountable hurdles with a disjointed plot shoehorning two sprawling novels into a single script. It also struggled through Aaliyah's untimely death in a plane crash months before the film's release.
This ambitious gothic piece suffers from too many issues that seriously pull down its overall quality. Poor script, unnecessary flashbacks, and dull characterizations dominate the presentation. All flash but lacking substance, the storytelling is often threatened by boring showdowns coated with over-the-top camera tricks that don't really help the audience care for the characters.
On the technical side, the images are generally free from detrimental compression issues and other visual oddities. This bleak and smoky picture handles its elaborate effects without crucial artifacting concerns. The movie's campy tone displays many dark scenes that offer substantial shadow details without encountering serious crushing problems.
The film's five-channel lossless track is full of well-recorded heavy metal tunes reminiscent of the music of Korn and other rock bands from the era. From its decent rock elements to its orchestral variations, the sound components move freely through the surround array with strong fidelity. Speaking lines remain crisp and clear even during scenes with aggressive music cues. The disc also provides dubbed audio options, which include with five-channel tracks in Spanish, French, German, and Italian, as well as a stereo track in Spanish.
The package supplies a number of bonus features including an audio commentary with director Michael Rymer, producer Jorge Saralegui, and composer Richard Gibbs, the music featurette "The Music of Lestat," the special effects featurette "Creating the Vampires," a heartfelt tribute to the late Aaliyah in "Aaliyah Remembered," extended footage of performances from the Death Valley concert scene with "Slept So Long" and "Not Meant for Me," a collection of deleted scenes, a gag reel, music videos for the Lestat songs "Redeemer," "Forsaken," and "System," and the Static X song "Cold," and the film's theatrical trailer. All videos are presented in SD format. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Japanese.
"Queen of the Damned" sucks the blood out of its audience. Struggling from underwritten parts, the actors merely sleepwalk through the material with lame interactions and characterizations. Unfortunately, the tragic passing of Aaliyah who single-handedly steers the movie off to a more exciting track with her graceful and commanding on-screen presence further skews the production. She only shows up for about 15 minutes of the entire film. Yet, her every appearance really gives a jolt of energy to the picture.
The story is full of blunt and abrupt events that often don't make connections between the scenes. Its lack of narrative coherence really strips off the depth of Rice's mythology. Indeed, this half-baked piece is best left inside the coffin.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Michael Rymer