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Constantine (2005) July 26, 2005

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Some things in life are inevitable – like death, taxes and Hollywood ruining cult comic books. The example for the latter could be found in CONSTANTINE, 2005 horror film directed by Francis Lawrence.

CONSTANTINE was named after John Constatine, protagonist of HELLBLAZER series of comic books. Started in 1980s, the series dealt with misadventures of an antihero who used his magical abilities and fought various demonic forces in order to survive rather than save the world. Constantine, drawn in the image of Sting and using distinctive language of blue-collar Englishmen, was one of the most recognisable of modern comic books.

Of course, when Hollywood adapted the series to the big screen, hardly anything of the comic book remained, apart from character’s name and smoking habit. Almost anything else was changed – London became Los Angeles, Constantine transformed from British into American and instead of looking like Sting he looked like Neo from MATRIX. The last decision, made in order to cast Keanu Reeves in main role, doomed the film, at least if anyone remotely familiar with the original comic book is concerned. Needless to say, writers Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Cappello transformed complex plot and multi-layered characterisation from the comic books into simplified and predictable plot that uses every pseudo-religious cliche imaginable from exorcism scenes and legendary Spear of Christ to obligatory appearance of Satan himself.

Keanu Reeves might indeed be limited actor, unable to play complex, multi-dimensional characters. But we can’t know for sure based on CONSTANTINE, because the scriptwriters altered protagonist into conventional and not particularly convincing hero. Rachel Weisz, on the other hand, is much better, despite the thankless role that includes another cliche in the form of twin sister. The same can be said of Tilda Swinton as Archangel Gabriel and Peter Stormare who provides one of film’s few entertaining moments while playing Satan. Unfortunately, their efforts aren’t enough to raise CONSTANTINE above the average levels of Hollywood mediocrity. With some decent special effects and occasionally interesting scene, CONSTANTINE is watchable, but the viewing experience is still too painful for those who had misfortune of reading the comic books beforehand.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

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