Constantine 2005

Even though I have seen this movie before, about the only thing I remembered about it was that it couldn’t be called Hellblazer because it sounded too similar to Hellraiser. Now, I’m not a very religious person, I was raised Christian and went to church every Sunday, and even as a young adult I would go to a weekly church group, though more for the people than the religious aspect. I think a lot of what the church teaches is total nonsense, but there’s a lot to be learned in other ways. I mention that because this movie has a strong relationship to religion, specifically Catholicism. It also approaches it much more closely to Kevin Smith’s Dogma, with a healthy amount of irreverence, but much less comedy. I enjoyed it quite a bit with all the interesting characters.

From what I’ve heard from fans of the original Hellblazer comics, which is set in London rather than LA, Keanu was an odd choice for the character. I generally liked him, though more than ever I noticed his extreme under-emoting that he’s often parodied for. It made John Constantine seem like an emotionally distant character, which was what the filmmakers were going for I believe, so it worked in that respect, but I definitely noticed it more than I have before. He’s someone who can see the angels and demons inhabiting the bodies of the people in this world and using them to manipulate people to do good or bad in order to win their soul in the afterlife. Constantine is also able to exorcise those demons and send them back to hell. He claims that he only gets those that are “breaking the rules”, but that part never seemed very clear.

In fact, a lot of the premise of the movie was quite unclear. In a positive note, it gave the characters a sense of mystery and I got the feeling that all the characters had an interesting background and history with Constantine that we weren’t seeing. On the flipside, it meant that the characters didn’t get that much development time in the actual film. I think the performances made up for most of that. This is especially true with Hennessey, who I mostly just remembered as the fat guy. There are many hints about his character, but it’s left rather vague as to what he’s exactly doing for Constantine, how he’s doing it, and what he actually finds at the end. Where this works out the best is with Djimon Honsou’s Poppa Midnight, the owner of the neutral nightclub haven for demons and angels alike.

The visuals in this movie were great at the time, and for the most part still hold up. The demon forms look a little overly video game-like, but the transition scenes and the angel wings look fantastic. I think the biggest cliche this movie falls into is the romantic subplot with Constantine and the detective. The one thing I do appreciate about it is that the relationship is never really consummated. Like much of the movie, there are hints of it, but it is never fully shown on screen. Often having them get face to face in the precursor to a kiss, but turn away at the last moment.

One of the better parts of the movie, although only a small part.

One of the better parts of the movie, although only a small part.

I think the strongest thing about this movie is the supporting cast. Tilda Swinton is great as the angel Gabriel, I also enjoyed Shia Lebeuf as the inexperienced sidekick/comic relief. Peter Stormare was a blast as his version of Satan himself in an interesting representation full of oily blackness. I was also quite surprised by Gavin Rossdale’s performance as the demon Balthazar. When he was on screen, I knew he looked familiar, but couldn’t place him. And then when I looked him up I realized that he’s the lead singer of Bush. As I mentioned before, I think the biggest downside is that the movie is just too shallow. It touches on the surface of this extremely interesting world, but it never really dips below the surface. Not only that, but it kills off all the interesting characters. That said, I did enjoy the movie quite a bit. It’s fun, with a lot of great characters, and some good action. I just wish it had gotten a little bit deeper into the mythos. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on January 26, 2013, in 00's movies, DC and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. This movie is kinda painful for fans of the original Hellblazer comics, because it has MAYBE 7% in common with the source material. Even aside from John and the entire overallstyle being being painfully British, there are drastic differences. There isn’t some war of possession, he didn’t get mysterious powers by a near death experience, he doesn’t use a holy shotgun, etc… it’s all completely original.

    Which is fine — it stands alone decently as a movie, even if the story is incredibly slipshod and underexplained. But if you’re not even going to bother using anything from the comics, why claim this is based on the comics? Just make it an original movie, with an original name. It’s not like “Film Noir + Religion + Supernatural” is an incredibly unique concept. So instead of doing a disrespect to the built-in audience you’re hoping to lure in, people who will hate what you did anyway, make your own story and welcome in everyone.

    • From what little I’ve read of the changes, it does sound a lot more like it should be called “Inspired by” rather than “based on”, but as I had never read any Hellblazer, I enjoyed it.

  2. I enjoyed this well enough, but it’s certainly no great film. I agree with a lot of the issues you raise… there’s just not a whole lot to the film.

  3. As a non-comic book fan, I thought Constantine was a fine enough film. Not great. Not awful. Like you, thought the performances from Tilda Swinton and Peter Stomare really held the film together perfectly. Keanu Reeves? Probably totally miscast, but for me, he didn’t ruin it.

  4. I love this film. I always have. I never read the source material and that might have changed my opinion if I had. I just always thought it was a really under appreciated film.

    • I do agree that it’s pretty underappreciated, I had to have liked it when I first saw it, but after a few years, whenever I would see it on DVD, I never really gave it a second thought. On watching it again, I’d say it was a good purchase. Though I would love to see the director’s cut. At least I’m pretty sure I saw one out there at some point.

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