Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Movie Reviews: The Lestat Movies

Double Feature weekend!

I watched, for the first time "Queen of the Damned" and rewatched after a long time "Interview with a Vampire". Both based on the first three books of Anne Rice's Vampire series.
I watched them in the same order I originally read the books way back when. I read "The Vampire Lestat" first then "Interview with a Vampire" next. It gave me a very different point of view of Lestat than others reading the same books at the time.
Let's be 100% honest here. If it was not for Anne Rice we would not have had "Vampire the Masquerade" and certainly she gave birth to the latest modern trend in vampires. More so that "Sookie Stackhouse", "Buffy" and even "Twilight". While Rice's vampires are appealing they are also monsters. Sometimes they struggle with that. So we have her to thank (or blame) for the Agnsty Emo Vampire in whole or in part.

Queen of the Damned (2002)
This film combines and shortens the tale found in the books "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned". Lestat (Stuart Townsend this time) comes back after his self imposed exile/sleep to be a rock star (who sounds an awful lot like Korn). Hey in the books it worked. It comes off a bit rushed in the movie though. His songs, especially about the really old vampires wakes Akasha, Queen of the Vampires (played by the late Aaliyah).  Wackieness ensues. Vampires that don't want to be outted try to kill Lestat, Akasha wants to keep him alive.  Marius shows up.  The ancient vampires fight to stop Akasha.

To start out with, this is not an exact sequel to "IwaV", more of a separate interpretation of the same universe.  That being said lets look at the good and the bad.
Good.  The vampires here are very cool.  Their powers have a nice affect on screen and they are still bloodthirsty killers.  The movie itself is better than I had been lead to believe all these years, but if one compares it to the book then it fails.  Lestat does not come off as a spoiled brat in this one as he did in "IwaV" and the books.  More like a vampire that kinda wishes he was still human.  Which of course was NOT Lestat in the books.
Bad. The script is kind of a mess.  They are trying ram two very dense books into a movie footprint and don't do so well.  Granted, Rice's later books needed pruning, but that is the fine skill of an editor, this was the work of a guy with a chainsaw.  Characters have disappeared, entire plots lost and the resolution does not have the same impact in the film as it does in the books.

In the end I enjoyed the movie, but only as a vampire flick, not as something that I know belongs in a larger universe.

Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Everyone had such high hopes for this one.  On the tail of Bram Stoker's Dracula this was supposed to open up a new era of vampire films.  Maybe it did.  But the movie was a disappointment.
Based on the book of the same name, this one has an all star cast.  I mean really.  Brad Pitt as Louis, Tom Cruise as Lestat, Kristen Dunst as Claudia (long before she would kiss Spider-Man), Christian Slater (filling in for the recently late River Phoenix) as Daniel and Antonio Bandaras as Arman.  I mean wow.  Look at that.
Visually the movie is very appealing.  Pretty (and petty) vampires feeding on humans while Louis frets and mourns his lost humanity.  Yeah agnsty emo vamps.
Tom Cruise was great as Lestat, but in some ways not as good as Townsend.  Now, I'll be honest, I don't like Tom Cruise I think he is a nut-job with a lot of issues and belongs to a wacky cult.  But so do a lot of people.  But he certainly made me believe he was Lestat here.  I am going to come back to why in a bit.  Now Brad Pitt I do like, after his bit in "12 Monkeys" and "True Romance" he convinced me he was not some pretty boy actor.  Watching him "Snatch" confirmed that.  But here he is the pretty boy vampire and frankly the best line in the movie was Lestat's "Oh shut up Louis."
I really liked this movie when it came out, but now almost 10 years later I seen the cracks in the veneerer, the flaws.

Basically I have the EXACT same issue I have with the books.  I can't stand Lestat in "Interview" (book or movie) and I liked him in the Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned.

Anne Rice's vampires are creatures of their times.  Not meaning when they were turned, but when the books and movies were made.  Since then the entire sub-genre of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy has grown up in the soil she tilled.  Vampires are no longer monsters, they are potential date/S.O. material. To be fair, Rice's vampires are monsters.  They just whine about being monsters.

I am glad though I got to watch them both back to back like this.

1 comment:

Chris Stevens said...

Not having read the books, I can only say that while I have no desire to see Queen of the Damned again, I think I will Netflix Interview with a Vampire and watch it a second time.