Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Constantine, A Heroic Journey
Most of the viewers of this film, like myself, will come to Constantine having never seen the comic, Hellblazer, which it is is based upon. Be assured this film stands on it's own; in fact, viewers are probably better off not to have read the comic and to encounter Constantine without expectations. Also, beware of the usual critics: Don't go hoping to see The Matrix or The Exorcist. One could say this movie is like "Dogma" with less comedy and more eye candy, reminiscent of The Prophecy but darker and cleaner, or like Blade with demons instead of vampires. But it's more than any of these, and rises above the sum of its parts. One could most accurately say Constantine is like no other movie. You may expect a hero's spiritual journey, strikingly interpreted through an action/religious/horror medium.
The leading character, John Constantine, a lay exorcist haunted from childhood by half-demons only he can see, is tough and self-interested, exceedingly churlish, hopelessly ill but not to be pitied, a lost soul who, while not particularly noble at the beginning of the film nevertheless grows even as he loses hope. Constantine rides from one gruesome scene to another in a yellow cab driven by his slave/apprentice, a wannabe exorcist named Chazz, played by Shia LaBeouf, who adds a necessary touch of brightness and innocence. Constantine makes a rather self-interested decision to help Angela, an LA cop who wants to know what really became of her dead sister, who leapt from the roof of the Catholic insane asylum she was housed in. A suicide, she cannot be buried in sacred ground. Angela--and only John Constantine knows there's much more to Angela than we know, and he's not telling--believes her sister did not really jump. The exquisite sexual tension between these two main characters, Constantine and Angela, is enough; to clutter this film with bedroom scenes would have been a mistake. Rachel Weisz is wonderful in this role; actually, the entire main cast is top notch.
The charismatic Keanu captures the essence of the saturnine John Constantine; he is a terrific actor, and you'll appreciate the frequent close-ups which reveal every facial twitch, throat palpitation, bleak curl of lip and bead of sweat. Pruitt Taylor Vince is wonderful as a drunken priest, friend, and helper of Constantine. I was captivated by the scene that runs from morgue to liquor store, carried completely by Vince. If you like him in Constantine, be sure to catch him in "Trapped," a suspense sleeper with another all-star cast. Tilda Swinton was strong and stately in her small but key role as the asexual Gabriel, and Peter Stormare should win top honors as the most original Satan in the history of cinema. You don't know whether to laugh at him for being so pitiful or shiver in disgust at his evil, which brings us to the black comedic elements. This film is really not funny, and I'm glad because that would spoil the intense mood, but what comedy there is for the most part so black as to be nearly unrecognizable; some viewers won't get it.
The director, Francis Lawrence, honed his skills in the field of music videos. That doesn't mean this film is anything like a music video, the score is varied and subtle, used to add ambiance to a scene rather than the other way around; but Lawrence seemed to have applied the simplicity necessary in music videos to the screenplay. The cinematography is clean but not lean, with many close ups that make it more immediate; each scene a work of art. There is no more dialog than necessary, leaving the story to be told mainly by well-paced action. Often a film running more than 2 hours can bog down, but not this one; in fact, even with it's 135 or so minutes it is one of those films that seems to end too quickly; I wanted it to go on and on.
The theology plays some known themes alongside new ones: concepts of hell, of balance, human purpose in spite of itself, and redemption are presented freshly, and in some cases blasphemously, with one surprise after another. As an open-minded Christian, I had no problem with it.
The sets are incredible, and their juxtaposition ingenious. You get scenes from of a nuclear-style hell in all it's hideous glory paired with some of the noir elements--the LA apartments of the main characters--as well as the bright but sterile sets of the Catholic hospital and back rooms of a shopping center, where much of the action takes place Then there's the red-hazed strangeness of an underground bar cliented by half-angels and half-demons, juxtaposed with more noir--rainy night street scenes in downtown LA. And then there's a secret set, background to a brief scene that you'll miss if you don't stay through the end of the credits. When I saw the movie, almost everyone left during the credits except someone sitting up in the lofts and myself--we were the only ones to taste the final treat!
Within the main action are many vignettes, adding spice--watch for the half-angel blowing on water glasses, watch for what minor characters do in the background, making this the kind of film that is always fun to see again to catch something unnoticed in an initial viewing. While the dialog is lean, there are some good lines; my favorite is one of said by Constantine: "That's pain; get used to it."
The R rating is for scenes that will definitely frighten children, and blasphemy that might concern some religious folks. There is violence, but it's not sickening. It's the intensity of what is there that makes it unsuitable for the young and impressionable.
Do see Constantine and enjoy. This film is sure to become a classic in its genre. Putting it in a genre would require a whole new article.
All star cast, great characters, juicy movie.
Better than average suspense story with characters that are not in the least clichéd. Stuart Townsend and Chalize Theron are, as always, both wonderful, and I never get tired of Kevin Bacon being a bad guy; he does it so very wickedly each and every time. I really look forward to seeing Courtney Love, ever since she played Althea Flint in "The People vs. Larry Flynt." Charlize Theron, of course, has proved her mettle over and over in so many movies particularly "Monster," but its interesting to re-watch her in earlier films like Astronaut's Wife, The Devil's Advocate, 2 Days in the Valley. She has no fear of getting down and dirty, complete with her mascara smeared, her hair messed up, red-eyed and appearing totally insane if that is what the role demands. That she gets to be with all the wonderful leading men like Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, and Stuart Townsend is not just because of her good looks. I really want to see her with Stuart Townsend again in "Head in the Clouds" By the way, Mr. Townsend, who really should be seen more often, is also the perfect Vampire Lestat in Queen of the Damned. Tom Cruise, move over.
This is a great movie. The wondrous photography, direction, and multi-star cast, applied to the Trojan War, a marvelous ancient drama anyhow--where could it go wrong? Oh, and the score still haunts me. Brad Pitt is marvelously belligerent as Achilles. The scene between himself and Julian Glover as Triopas, alone in the Achilles' tent, is priceless. I wish Orlando Bloom would be in more movies; he's truly a fine actor. My whole family watched the full 3 hours thrilled to tears. Whenever I see film this grand, I want to find others just like it, but there never are any. This film is probably inspiring viewers to read or re-read The Iliad; I have certainly brushed off my copy.
A shamefully underrated DARK COMEDY.
This is a great film, and should be more widely available. Why, oh why isn't it out in DVD? The writer of the original story is Jim Thompson. The film is one of the blackest of dark comedies, and so, unfortunately, is under appreciated by mainstream viewers and even critics. If you could see the humor in "The Grifters" or if you like your humor darker than "To Die For," you must get "This World, Then the Fireworks" in video ASAP. The leading role is made for Billy Zane, and features the finest performance I've ever seen from him. Don't miss this unforgettable scene: someone wonders why he (Billy Zane) would marry a deformed woman when he can have a beautiful one, and he becomes absolutely enraged. Also wonderful are Gina Gershon as the sister, and Rue McClanahan as mother of the wicked siblings.