Genre Spotlight: Constantine
Constantine, the final film in our Comic Book film spotlight, is adapted from the comic book “Hellblazer”. The protagonist, John Constantine spun out of the pages of “Swamp Thing” due to his popularity and has been going strong ever since. The series, while on the fringe of the DC comic book universe, grew in popularity under the Vertigo label. Once the movie was a reality, the studio needed to differentiate “Hellblazer” from the horror film franchise Hellraiser, and thus Constantine was born.
Constantine is a very entertaining film with a great premise. The battle between heaven and hell rages on, with John Constantine, played by Keanu Reeves, at the center. The action is on level with most comic book films, but most resembles the action from the original Blade film, another supernatural fringe comic. The special effects are perfect for setting the necessary mood of the film and creating the story’s demonic menaces.
The dark, supernatural themes from the world of “Hellblazer” are fully realized on the screen. Fights with angels and demons, trips to hell and back, and other general voodoo, all bring the story to life. Skirting the line between horror and the paranormal, Constantine weaves an intriguing yet formulaic story. Fans of the comic were no doubt happy to see the comic translated to film, despite Reeves playing what is suppose to be a British role.
Lucky for the film it is a very story driven vehicle, because the performances are fairly wooden and the dialogue is far from believable. It would be easy to take shots at Reeves, so I’ll pass, but the one actor I expected better from was Rachel Weisz. Perhaps it was the strain of hiding her accent or she was directed to show less feeling because of her role as a cop, but Weisz did not deliver. Two short lived, but memorable performances come from Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel and Djimon Hounsou as Papa Midnite. Otherwise, the acting is just a necessary evil for progressing the story, which is rather captivating.
Constantine could pass for a paranormal horror-lite romp, with no ties to the comic book realm. There are few indicators that it was based off of a comic book at all, which might work in its favor. The story is fascinating enough to hold your attention, while the special effects and action keep you tied into the film. The acting leaves much to be desired, but fortunately it does not hurt the film. An entertaining selection, no doubt, but don’t expect Hamlet, though his demons were pretty brutal too.