Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I saw the film "Constantine" on Sunday

To top of my movie weekend on Sunday afternoon I saw the film adaptation of the DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer, retitled Constantine. (though I noticed during the end credits it said it was adapted from the "Graphic Novel" Hellblazer which isn't correct, I guess Warner Brothers are a bit ashamed to say that this is based on a "Comic Book"..... but I won't rant about that now.

The character of John Constantine was created by Alan Moore while he was scripting a great run on Swamp Thing in the mid 1980's. John, a tall, blonde, chain smoking brit (modeled after Sting) was involved with the occult, mystery and creatures of the damned. When he graduated into his own series, the aforementioned Hellblazer, we learned more of his background and were treated to a harsher, more bleak aspect of Mr. Constantine.

Of course after Hollywood got a hold of J.C. (no pun intended) he became a tall, dark haired, chain smoking citizen of Los Angeles portrayed by ..... wait for it ....... Keanu Reeves.
From the WB, the SYNOPSIS: Constantine tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldy events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost.

With the casting of the stiff, lifeless Keanu Reeves I was all ready to hate this picture.
But damn it ......... I couldn't!

The film opens with John banishing yet another demon to hell only to learn later on that bigger things are happening, which involve the "Spear of Destiny" the weapon that killed Jesus Christ. While his own fate is in doubt John, along with fellow operatives Father Hennessy and driver Chas Chandler, reluctantly takes on the case behind Angela's sister's death.

The bulk of the picture is filled with battles with various demons, grisley deaths and even a few trips to hell. (and yes, we even have the patented character waking from a horrible nightmare by popping straight up in bed --- which is physically impossible to do.)

Reeves is pretty bad, but for him that's just what you can expect. Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel is very good and I particularly enjoyed Peter Stormare's (the "wood-chipping" kid napper from Fargo) performance as,... well I don't want to give it away.

If you haven't seen too many "lone, sulking, reluctant avenger of the damned" type stories and films, then you might like Constantine. Unfortunately for this viewer, I've read hundreds of comics and books and seen just as many films that deal with fighting demons and creatures from hell. So a lot of this film is just, well, ho-hum. But that really is no fault of the film itself, though who knows, with a better leading actor ......

So weighing the pros and cons, this Baboon gives Constantine a not-so-bad:


Kerry C. said...

I liked it a lot! One reviewer has put Reeves in the same category as W. Shatner and C. Heston... enjoyable over-acting.

Apparently there's a bit at the very end, after the credits. I didn't know about it, so I didn't stay for it.
Can you tell me what it was, Rich...?

RJM said...

Hmmm... I didn't stay, as I usually do. So I don't know what they did.

I was torn on what to give it, but Reeves just doesn't have it, IMO, to pull off the character.

chongaroo said...

It's the scene where Chad (the driver) becomes an angel. I read about it on another board. I couldn't sit and wait for the scene after seeing Keanu's awful acting. He is definitely not my favorite actor, but he was good in some movies like the first matrix, Hard Ball, and the Gift. If I went to see this movie with any actor in mind, I would say I went to see the movie because of Rachel Weisz. In any case, I thought the special effects were very well done. I don’t know who could have played the better version of JC. A younger version of Clint Eastwood? Kiefer Sutherland? I don’t know. Keanu is just awful in this movie. Oh and the pace of this movie is uneven.

RJM said...

Chad becoming an angel, that would have been cool to see.

Kerry C. said...

thanks, chongaroo.