Review: Constantine

Comic book movies don’t have it easy, more often than not they are slated before they even get released as formulaic, costume capers, aimed at 15 year old boys. I think you either appreciate the genre or you don’t. If you’re a geek and a reader of comics then these kind of movies are something you camp outside the cinema for. On the other hand if you prefer a little more realism & a little less spandex in your viewing of choice, you probably won’t want to waste two hours of your life. Constantine is somewhat different as a movie based on a comic book, the central character John Constantine is very much an anti-hero, reluctant at best to do anything that doesn’t directly relate to his own self preservation. Played here by Keanu Reeves – Constantine is a demon hunter, paranormal investigator and general thorn in the side of Lucifer. While he possesses detailed knowledge of the occult his “powers” are more mythical enchants and spells than actual super powers.

The script is written by comic book stalwarts Garth Ennis and Jamie Delano and fuses together elements of theology, Catholicism, film noir and comic book expectation. God & Lucifer have agreed to allow the world as we know to make decisions, neither directly influencing the outcome of what will happen the human race. Those that live their lives by the moral code of Catholicism will be redeemed in heaven while those that don’t are destined to hang out in the fires of hell. The discovery of the spear of destiny, the weapon used to pierce the side of Jesus at the Crucifixion, changes things however as steps are taken to bring the son of Lucifer into the world. The plot is decent, involving the need for a pure soul, the capture of such through the death of her sister and the ongoing battle for the soul of Constantine. There are certainly flaws but for the most part it is an enjoyable ride.

Director Francis Lawrence did a decent job in the visual department with some nicely stylized elements in place. Extensive use is made of camera angles and you can tell he has worked on music videos before from observation of the editing. There is good use of filters and post processing throughout and the whole film has effective comic book undertones. Reeves delivers Constantine’s apathetic lines with aplomb and Rachel Weisz does a decent job as the cop in need of assistance. A young Shia LaBeouf stands out at Constantine’s assistance and the framework for his goofy comic timing is established here.

Constantine is an enjoyable movie, particularly if you are the comic book type. Personally I love it, but then I love the comic book and John Constantine is one of my favourite characters. I love angel and demon mythology as well which is a big bonus and I’ll be honest I’m totally #boycrushed on Keanu Reeves but even with all those elements I still think it’s a film anyone can enjoy.

4/5

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~ by Paul McGovern on May 13, 2011.

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