Combining The Vampire Lestat and the Queen of the Damned novels into one screenplay was, ahem, damned to suffer massive story cuts because of the intricate and detailed background of a dozen or so characters involved. The amount of detail always was the strength of the Vampire Chronicles, in my opinion, and they were certainly worth the read.
That said, the question remains, without the detail and extra characters, can the basic story of Lestat's re-awakening of the Queen of all vampires be entertaining and sufficient enough to sustain itself? While I can not answer the question with a glowing appraisal, I will certainly admit that it did a decent job of combining all of the basic elements into a stand alone movie. The fact that this movie can stand on it's own without any ties to the prequel, Interview with the Vampire, is one of it's assets. You do not need any fore-knowledge of the characters, books, or prequel movie in order to watch this.
Even though it fits into it's own little package does not mean it was packed very well. There were some plot holes, some of which could have been filled by simply restoring the "Ancients" scenes that were on the dvd. I understand, as the dvd points out, that they were left out because it introduced another subplot and characters that would add unnecessary confusion. While I agree with their reasoning, I do think they should have somehow salvaged the scene so that while the introductions of the ancients would have been left out, Maharet's few lines about Akasha's reign of destruction and the vampire's responsibility should have remained. They would have added a needed sense of urgency and motivation that would have made the final confrontation with Akasha and the ancients a bit more reasonable and satisfying.
The character of Jessie is supposed to be the human link for the viewer to empathize through as they are taken into the world of vampires. In some scenes, this works adequately, but on the whole, Jessie's motivations, while they are explained, seem kind of empty. I am not sure if I can fault the actress or script, but when the movie was over, I still felt ambivalent about the character's experiences.
There were other elements that were not as fleshed out as they could be. The paranormal Talamasca needed a bit more background about their vampire tracking as did the character of Maharet and her family tree. Like Jessie, they were given some explanation, but I think a couple more lines of dialogue would have helped.
As I mentioned, the movie did a decent job of the basic story, but massive changes were made from the source material. Characters were dropped completely, or merged together, and huge sections of character history were removed. Most notably, Lestat's history is extremely compacted and revised. Nonetheless, there are some things that remained that I thought were done pretty well. The character of Lestat in this picture is rebellious and reckless which is more true to the character than he was portrayed in Interview. Lestat's re-awakening and concert scenes were exactly like I had envisioned when I originally read the book. The character of Akasha was also as I pictured and a very good casting choice.
If you are a fan of the books, and you need the twins, Gabriel, Magnus, and crew, you are going to have difficulty sitting through this. If, on the other hand, you can set that aside and view this as a vampire movie of it's own, unrelated to the chronicles, you will probably enjoy this for the stand-alone vampire flick that it is.
In summary, worth the rental.