Ok, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get down to business. First of all, admittedly the first time I saw this movie I had never known, heard of, or read about the source material upon which this movie is based. Since then I have read many Constantine comics, and while overall there are major differences in the portrayal of the character, I believe the spirit of Constantine is there, not quite as cockney or blonde as his comic book origins, but nonetheless as the movie stands I quite enjoy it as sort of an alternate universe version of the character.
At least he chain smoked in every scene.
Now then, what I really loved about this film was its visual adoration with framing and cinematography that set up a great many shots as if they were comic books panels, not Ang Lee’s “Hulk” version of comic panels though mind you. The sets were also wonderfully disgusting or decaying in essentially every shot as well. Visually I very much enjoyed this film.
I don’t believe Keanu’s Constantine was a “bad” character or “bad” acting per-se, I quite enjoyed his sourpuss dryness. It seemed to me that Keanu was going for an amalgamation of a gumshoe detective that dabbles in the occult, and I think it worked. This was however the beginning of Shia Labeouf’s movie career, sometimes the kid does alright, and other times not so much. This role didn’t seem to have any real flaws though, especially because he was only in the movie for several scenes. (sorry Labeouf fan club) [if such a thing exists].
I think I have to take the time to admit that I have an affinity for any medium that takes on Christianity and (sorry to the masses here but) makes it interesting. I also love the Spawn comics, and Ghost Rider as well. Dealing with demons and angels and the ever constant war between heaven and hell, good and evil, is great stuff for mortality tales such as the superhero genre. Taking the more mythic elements from Catholicism and taking a dark turn in the content can make for great entertainment in my opinion.
Amid the fanfare of a brewing war between the planes of existence, what really stands out in this movie were certain sequences that were either captivating, eerie, or just damn fun. Who doesn’t remember Keanu looking into the eyes of a cat and being transported to hell? *Shudder* I haven’t stared Mr. Whiskers in the eyes since. Or when that informant goes rogue and a demon curses him by making him perceive all liquids as non existent thus allowing him to drink himself to death when he believed that he wasn’t drinking a drop was kind of maddening. A devilishly creative choice in my opinion. Speaking of which, any time the devil is in play, I get excited. Lucifer is one of my favorite characters, he’s usually charming until you’ve bested him. He often uses his charisma and quick wit to get his way, if portrayed carefully he easily can be the most amusing character on screen. Constantine’s version of the devil worked because he was built up just by the fact that he didn’t even show up until the end, he wasn’t even the actual villain of the story, just the overall greater threat looming on the edge of the story.
So, all in all, I believe this movie gets more crap than it deserves mostly because of the deviations to the portrayal of Keanu’s Constantine. I believe the film has more to offer than base value disappointment, and hell, (pun intended) if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch if this is the sort of thing you enjoy. It’s visually very interesting, full of creative sequences, and honestly just a good time.
Again, hate onward if you must. Try love if you can though, its pretty great.