Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with two positive reviews of CONSTANTINE. I really, really want this movie to rule hard. I'm fairly ignorant of the books, but what I have seen has been outstanding. This could be one helluva cool movie, but that first trailer's not too inspiring. Check out the below reviews for a bit of hope. Plus be sure to check out the tidbit about the current state of SUPERMAN over at WB at the end of the first review!!! Enjoy!!!
Just got back from a screening of MATRIX 4...uh, I mean CONSTANTINE. You know, Warner-Bros' Keanu Reeves starrer based on the DC/VERTIGO comic book with that trailer featuring a color palette right out of the Wachowski's movies. It was a pretty funny night. The audience wasn't sure what movie they were about to see. A lot of people were hoping it was BLADE 3. Thank god it wasn't. I never want to see that convoluted mess again. My source at WB told me it was CONSTANTINE, and I was there to check out the feature debut of director Francis Lawrence.
First of all, I have to make full disclosure and admit that I've never read an issue of HELLBLAZER. I know the character of John Constantine was created by Alan Moore, whose other creations haven't gotten the best Hollywood treatment. I liked, but didn't love, FROM HELL. I despised the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN adaptation with a vile hatred. Hopefully WATCHMEN can soar. But from what I understand, PUNISHER fave Garth Ennis is the guy who makes the HELLBLAZER books rock.
The buzz on the CONSTANTINE movie has not been great, and I think that's more to do with fans of the comic hearing about departures from the original source material. Mainly, Keanu Reeve's playing an American version of the lead character, as opposed to the British nationality in the comic. Obviously, Warner-Bros fealt that aside from James Bond movies, it's hard for American audiences to buy a lead with an accent (that was admittedly one of the problems with VAN HELSING, as it lacked Brendan Frasier doing his best Bruce Willis from DIE HARD imitations). But let's be honest here, HELLBLAZER isn't an iconic title like SUPERMAN, BATMAN, SPIDERMAN, X-MEN, etc... And not every non-iconic comic book adaptation has to be as faithful as HELLBOY.
Judging this movie as a stand-alone film, it's a thoroughly entertaining, dark, supernatural action-thriller. Keanu reeves rebounds from the MATRIX sequels with a film/character that isn't nearly as bad-ass or ground-breaking as the first installment of Wachowski brothers' trilogy, but certainly delivers some goods. And Francis Lawrence's directorial debut signals the dawn of film-maker's career whom I think is going to fast become an A-lister.
I break the story down into three categories:
The pitch is a good one. Neither angels nor demons can enter into the same plane of existence as humankind: Earth. But half-breeds do dwell on the planet. And the demonic ones do everything in their power to influence humans to commit sins: rape, murder, etc...
John Constantine is our anti-hero. Born with a gift: the ability to see half-breeds. Unable to cope with the sights, he tries to commit suicide when he's a kid. Resuscitated, and still plagued by his visions, unfortunately he's also now committed a mortal sin (trying to take his own life) and is destined to go to hell himself. In an effort to repent and gain entry to heaven, he dedicates his life to sending demonic half-breeds back to hell. But, alas, no one upstairs seems to be opening the gates for him, and his time is running out as a habbit of smoking ciagarettes has led to a case of progressive lung cancer. Having become so infamous, it's said he's the only soul Satan will come to earth to collect personally
After a couple close encounters, John believes there's pure demons among us, which isn't supposed to be possible. But he soon finds out it's all the elaborate plan of the son of Satan, who wants to enter our plain of existence and bring hell on earth. Teamed up with a police detective played by Rachel Weisz, investigating the alleged suicide of her "psychic" twin sister, they must put a stop to the anti-christ's evil plan.
The movie I saw tonight, looks like it can rake in BLADE/BLADE II business: about 70-80 mil @ the B.O. But some re-shoots and/or re-editing could get it past 100.
So here's my memo to Warner-Bros.
The opening prologue with the "spear of destiny" is a little lackluster; it needs to be more epic in scope. The same goes for the introductory scene of Constantine; we need a better set-piece here with more action and tension.
The middle lags a bit; but that most definitely can be tightened up. The third act is actually pretty damn near great, though it's a bit too little too late; and please make the scene with the holy water sprinklers longer!
Back to the second act, I would have liked some more action set-pieces. Also, Rachel Weisz' character's presence feels a little forced to me. If she is there to help propel the investigative/detective work aspects of the film's thriller angle, then I would have liked a bit more mystery to be unlocked consistently throughout as opposed to the clustered revelation of info that we get pummeled with in a certain scene involving a "chair". Don't know if that piece of furniture hails from the original source material, but the exposition comes off as a bit of a cop-out in the movie.
At the end of the day, I give this film 3 out of 5 stars. Conceptually, had they hit it out of the park, this could have been the next MATRIX. But the script is lacking. The screenplay's structure is there, the main character's arc is there; I can see why Keanu honed onto this part as there's a lot of interesting deconstruction about redemption, his knowing about a higher power, but not really "believing" or having "faith". It's the other characters and the fleshing out of the story that aren't serviced enough.
The real star of the film for me is director Francis Lawrence. Based on his music videos, I would have expected him to embark upon a hyper-stylized Tony Scott/Michael Bay type production. But instead he seems to be going more of the darker David Fincher route. Both paths are fine with me to be honest, though Lawrence's proclivity for the latter says a lot considering I know him to be absolutely capable of the prior. In other words, I predict a very bright, versatile, career of diverse work lies ahead for this helmer.
Like my Spidey review, please keep my identity a secret.
P.S. I heard tonight from a WB friend at the
screening, that McG is out of SUPERMAN and Warner's
wants to make it a mandate to get Michael Bay.
Apparently he's looking for something big, as he's
having trouble getting the budget he wants for his
"Island" project at DreamWorks. Apparently part of
the reason Moritz came on-board Supes was that Bay was
attached to direct I AM LEGEND for him and former
partner, HARRY POTTER franchise and WB-based producer
David Heyman. With Adelstein gone from Original, and
Sony having inked a deal with DeLuca (which pissed
Neal off), he and Heyman are mulling re-teaming up.
It doesn't hurt that Neal has close ties to potential
Lex Luthor Vin Diesel and was shooting STEALTH in
Australia, where WB wants to do SUPERMAN. I know for
a fact Neal loves Australia, and he's been trying to
convince studios to shoot a lot of his productions
there. Heyman, like every other producer on the WB
lot, has been trying to get on Supes. Aside from the
Potter films, what's going to put him where Joel
Silver can't get, is his relationship with Neal and
they're combined relationship with Bay.
Michael Bay's name again making the rounds... It's certianly a step up from McG. Hell, I like Bay's blatant flag-waving popcorn entertainment, so we'll see how this comes along. Now for another positive CONSTANTINE review... Bodes well, but I'd like to hear from someone who was familiar with the comics and see their take... Anyway, on with the review!!!
Long time reader.
First time sending you a message.
Just got home from a screening of the new Keanu Reeves/Rachel Weiss flick, Constantine. After the standing in line, seating, and introduction the movie began, and boy was it a treat.
The opening scene was awesome and left the entire theatre saying "HOLY SHIT!". Now, I'm a comic reader, however I've never had my hands on a Hellblazer comic, so I'm not familiar with the story of John Constantine. However, I didn't get the feeling that I should have been. If you pay attention, you'll know just who he is. A tortured soul. Someone that doesn't belong. Someone that has a gift/curse that he doesn't want. I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of Keanu Reeves (of course I'm a big Matrix fan though and he was Neo) but, I think he played the part of tortured soul fantastically.
The movie is a trip. And when asked on the questionnaire what scenes I liked the least, I couldn't think of one. There are only two cinematic views of Hell that I've seen that I've ever liked. The one from "What Dreams May Come" and this one. If that's what Hell will be like, thanks but no thanks Satan, I think that party is for someone else. I'll take Heaven. The paranormal and religious themes were heavy and several of them had the audience jumping like I haven't seen since I saw the re-release of "The Exorcist" in theatres a year or so ago. I wouldn't recommend going into the show expecting to see something along the lines of realism such as "The Exorcist", just see it for the thrill of jumping out of your seat a lot. See it for the humor - most every scene involving John Constantine and a demon in the movie is great, filled with sarcasm like I love - , see it for a good ride, a little suspense - a lot of fun, and a Lucifer, played by Peter Stormare (Lev the Russi an Cosmonaut from Armageddon) that is awesome.
The effects weren't entirely completed, but for most of it...they sure looked like they were. The soundtrack, we were told, was also incomplete but, except for a few instances of the music not fitting the scene, it sounded fine to me.
Overall, the movie was great. Worth the $9 - $10 to see in the theatre for the jolts alone. Just don't bring the kids...
Signing out: fac51m1l3
..:: smile - the future is now ::..