Constantine

by December Lambeth on July 28, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

Imagine we are all chess pieces that the forces of good and evil use to play with. Constantine takes the depths of hell and brings it to our T.V. as if LA was on fire and the freeway is Hell Central. Based on the characters from Vertigo “Hellblazer” a comic book, Constantine takes the audience from the illustrated page directly to a dark, gothic, and somewhat comedic cinematic experience. Some of the scenes could easily be turned into a vivid graphic novel that captivates its readers and puts them into a trance.

Unfortunately, fans of Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Garth Ennis’s might be a little disappointed with Constantine’s punchy plot, freakish monsters, and stiff main actor Keanu Reeves as the antihero John Constantine.

Constantine
3 Stars

Imagine we are all chess pieces that the forces of good and evil use to play with. Constantine takes the depths of hell and brings it to our T.V. as if LA was on fire and the freeway is Hell Central. Based on the characters from Vertigo “Hellblazer” a comic book, Constantine takes the audience from the illustrated page directly to a dark, gothic, and somewhat comedic cinematic experience. Some of the scenes could easily be turned into a vivid graphic novel that captivates its readers and puts them into a trance.

Unfortunately, fans of Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Garth Ennis’s might be a little disappointed with Constantine’s punchy plot, freakish monsters, and stiff main actor Keanu Reeves as the antihero John Constantine.

Constantine starts out with a true bang. Homeless people are digging for “treasures” under an old bridge, one of them run across the Spear of Destiny, known to be the blade to have pierced Christ’s side during the Crucifixion. This is where it gets good, as the guy is crossing the street BAM a car runs smack into him. The technical brilliance behind this massive crushed wreck and the guy getting up and walking away is absolutely awe-inspiring and a real chair clincher. Next scene is a moment out of The Exorcist, a little girl climbing the walls needing a little help from John Constantine. He pulls a demon out of her, only to realize there is something drastically wrong, this is a soldier demon trying to come over onto our plane in corporeal form.

John spends his days trying to buy back his salvation, by hunting for that one thing that will put him back into the Lord’s good graces. As a youth he had committed suicide, a mortal sin in they eyes of God, and spent a few seconds in Hell before being spat back out by mere luck of life. John runs across the path of Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), a cop who is investigating the death of her twin sister who had jumped off of the roof of a crazy ward and Angela won’t accept her death as a suicide. She recruits a reluctant Constantine to help her solve the mystery behind her sister’s death. John realizes that there is something special about Angela; she has the same visual abilities as he does, and she can see half-breeds and other spooky elements that most do not. John with the assistance of Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounson), a sorcerer and club owner for half-breeds, demonic and angelic, Beeman (Max Baker) his nervous supplier of occult tools and his apprentice Chas Kramer (Shia LaBeouf) the comic relief, start to collect and organize the clues to Angela’s sister’s death. Along the way they meet up with a little resistance from Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) an androgynous, half-breed angel and Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale) a creepy half-breed demon.

John had accidentally given the half-breeds exactly what they wanted, Angela, a powerful psychic. Balthazar had trapped John and handed Angela over to Gabriel to perform the ritual to bring Satan’s son to our plane. John and Chas rush to the mental ward to stop the transformation, but show up a bit too late. John takes his life again, knowing he would need a very powerful force to stop what was going to happen and that Satan disparately wanted him back in Hell. Here comes the best part to the film, Lucifer (Peter Stormore) appears. This character truly gave me the creeps and I would imagine if Lucifer existed, this is exactly how he would be. Pissing him off wasn’t a good idea, but John figure what’s left to loose. He had asked for Angela’s sister’s life in replace for his and stopping his son from coming aboard. Well, of course, this was the one act of redemption that God would forgive all his sins and allow John to enter the pearly gates. Lucifer is livid and takes John’s lung cancer away and makes him go back to his existence on earth trying to tempt him into another mortal sin so he can have him back in Hell.

 

Constantine shows some worthy talent and a great premise for a story, but shies away from the adventure it could have been. I think it should have went a great deal further, really pushing the lines of right and wrong and giving the audience a true thrill ride. First time director Francis Lawrence did a great job, he had only worked on music videos prior to this project and it shows. The edgy and sinister dark sets truly bring the audience into the scenes, but sadly the plot comes up shallow and muddled leaving the audience wanting a little more. If you are in for the talent and a little Keanu Reeves action, then Constantine is the film for you. You are not going to get any true depth or find the meaning to life here, but if you watch Constantine with a light and less serious approach, you might find it quite entertaining and visually stimulating.

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