When it was announced that Tom Cruise would play the vampire Lestat in this adaptation of Anne Rice's bestselling novel, even Rice chimed in with a highly publicized objection. The author wisely and justifiably recanted her negative opinion when she saw Cruise's excellent performance, which perceptively addresses the pain and chronic melancholy that plagues anyone cursed with immortal bloodlust. Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst are equally good at maintaining the dark and brooding tone of Rice's novel. And in this rare mainstream project for a major studio, director Neil Jordan compensates for a lumbering plot by honoring the literate, Romantic qualities of Rice's screenplay. Considered a disappointment while being embraced by Rice's loyal followers, the movie is too slow to be a satisfying thriller, but it is definitely one of the most lavish, intelligent horror films ever made. ''--Jeff Shannon''