Friday, July 22, 2005

"Belated Movie Review: CONSTANTINE"

In the way of current movies, there are very few that I really care to see. Working as I do, I have little time to actually go to a theatre to watch a new film, so when I want to see it I usually have to wait until it comes out on rental.

I eventually see all of the ones based on various super-heroes or comic books, and this past Tuesday, Constantine, (based on the John Constantine character from the DC/Vertigo Hellblazer title), was finally available.

I must admit that I was hesitant to even watch this flick. I'm a "big" fan of the character from way back when he was first introduced in the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing, and although I don't own many issues of the actual title, I DO have the first 203 issues all scanned on CD-ROM along with various Specials and have read each and every one. So one might say that I'd be more than picky about how some screen-writer treats the source material.

And, I knew from the "get go" due to many spoilers I've read over The Net in the past few months that there'd be elements about this film I would not like. Probably No.1 would be the fact that Keanu Reeves was playing the lead. Now it's not that I don't like Reeves as an actor. He was just fine in such flicks as Speed and The Matrix, but he just doesn't look like John Constantine. In the film they didn't make Constantine either British, or a blonde. These things seem very trivial to me as a fan of the book, because all Reeves would have had to do to make the film more interesting was to insist that his hair was bleached, and insist that he speak with a British accent. Like I said...trivial things, that I'm sure an actor as much in demand as he could have gotten changed without a blink of an eye to the producers, since neither would affect the theme of the film at all. In fact, it would have enhanced the movie to the many fans of the Vertigo title. Since he had them to change neither, this tends to indicate to me that he does not want to be considered as a serious actor; just somebody else in the film industry after that all-mighty buck.

And, as for the movie itself? Well...the posters are nice. (Okay. That's not fair. Here's what I actually thought about it, but do be warned beforehand that it may contain a spoiler or two, so if you've never seen this movie and don't want to know anything about it ahead of time, then now's the time to Exit Stage Right.)

The first thing other than the before-mentioned things I'd heard about Constantine, was that he was to have a "side-kick" of sorts. But, since that character is killed off in the flick, no problem. He won't be back (hopefully) if for some reason a sequel's ever done.

Even with the various changes they made to the storyline, such as having Lucifer cure John of his lung cancer and the other revisions, I really did enjoy this movie! I found the special effects to be top-notch and over-all, Reeves kept surprizingly quite in character throughout.

The movie had a decent plot, and a decent payoff as an ending. Since this was a rental DVD, it also contained several deleted scenes; things that would have changed the film a bit too much had they been added or merely lengthened the view time, that I think were probably necessary to remove/change to make the action have a good, continuous flow.

I liked the way they handled the angel Gabriel. Why film writers always want to "pick" on ol' Gabe' is beyond me. In The Prophesy when Chris Walken played the part, they had him act as if he was a disapointed child, jealous of God's Gift to humankind. In this movie, Gabriel is played similiar, but still on God's Team; not jealous of mankind as much as he just wants to see mankind suffer to enjoy the Benefits of Being on The Side of The Lord.

The background music was good and added to the mystical feeling throughout the film. Not something I'd want to go out and purchase just to listen to, but well-fitted to the various scenes in the movie.

There were no scenes that drug on, or were too dark, or had the voices recorded so low you had to strain to understand what the actors were saying, or just some bit of filler to lengthen the view time. The film didn't wear you out to sit there the length of it's running time.

The use of the mystical spells and enchantments appeared for the most part to be accurate. Some one had done their homework on the use, reciting and chanting of them.

And there were parts of this film that I personally can relate to (although we won't get "into that") which would make me want to sometime watch this film a second time. I'm not sure if I'd actually buy this DVD. (But if I do, I want to make sure I get a "letter-box" edition; this rental was a "full-screen".) Certainly I wouldn't pay for a new copy full price at a retail store, but I'm sure I'd pick it up somewhere if I found it discounted for my collection of such (which is much more than I'd say about some other comic book adaptations of late such as Catwoman or The Punisher just to name a couple).

I don't put it in the catagory of some adaptations I've enjoyed such as From Hell, or Ghost World, or even The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Nor would I catagorize it as a movie similiar to Spider-man or X-Men, simply because it's a totally different theme in a ball park far away from such "long john" hero-type flicks. But I think it holds it's own as being a movie that had I paid to see it in a theatre instead, I wouldn't have felt like I'd been ripped-off.

So...there you have it. A Thumbs Up! from me on Constantine. Yes. I would indeed recommend you watching this film.


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