Thursday, December 14, 2006

Review: Constantine

Being a Hellblazer fan, I resisted seeing Constantine for a long, long time. Pretty much universal consensus among other Hellblazer fans (who were masochistically more willing to take a chance on it than I was) though was that if you watch it not as a Hellblazer movie, but as a generic monster-hunter movie, it's pretty good. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that.

I tried, but the problem is that the movie actually gets pretty close to the comic in some key places. Setting aside the fact that he's American and has dark hair, Keanu Reeves actually makes a pretty good John Constantine. The attitude, the way he carries himself, the way he lights a cigarette... the character is there and intact. Contrary to some early, troubling production art that got passed around the Internet, there is no Constantinemobile and John doesn't drive at all. And, like in the comic, he's taxied around by a cabbie named Chaz (although the movie version is a much more enthusiastic sidekick than the comics version. There's also an attempt to work in Garth Ennis' famous "Dangerous Habits" storyline.

So, as I'm watching the movie, trying to pretend it's about someone else, I keep getting reminded that, no, this is a Hellblazer adaptation. To judge it purely as something else would mean that I'd have to ignore some things I liked about it, like how Keanu lights a cigarette. But if I let myself count those things into my final estimation, I also have to count stuff that I didn't like, like the crucifix-gun, the magic tatoos, and John's switching to gum.
And seriously, I doubt I'd have liked the crucifix-gun no matter what the name was of the guy carrying it. Really, Constantine is a pretty average monster-hunter flick with decent special effects. It's only in comparison with Hellblazer fans' original expectations of it that it looks good.

2 comments:

MontiLee said...

That's a shame you didn't like Constantine, but I'm the same way about Stephen King adaptations. Say what you will, the man has a talent for sucking you into a story, but the movie adaptations (save for Darabont's adaptations, and Reiner, when he's not feeling cocky) leave a lot to be desired.

(the delete was mine - mea culpa)

Michael May said...

"Say what you will, the man has a talent for sucking you into a story..."

Completely agree.

"...Reiner, when he's not feeling cocky..."

Ha! :D

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