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2005 film loosely based on DC / Vertigo's Hellblazer comic books.

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Disappointing adaptation, but worth watching...once.

  • Aug 11, 2005
For fans of the comic book on which this movie is based -- "John Constantine: HELLBLAZER" -- it will doubtless be a disappointment. I myself am an avid reader of said comic, and when I think of how much better the movie could have been...SHOULD have been...it makes me a little sad. For one thing, the John Constantine of the comic lives in London, not Los Angeles, and this is a critical difference, both for the character and the story. Constantine is supposed to be British through and through, and turning him into an American -- even worse, a Californian -- just destroys the whole foundation of the character. Putting a gun (a crucifix gun?) in his hand puts the final nail in this coffin...the John Constantine I used to read about never used guns. He never had to.

The storyline they chose to adapt is one of the best of the whole series, the "Dangerous Habits" story in which Constantine, a lifelong smoker, is diagnosed with lung cancer, and spends the rest of the story wrapping up his affairs on Earth before taking the trip he knows he is destined for. The movie adaptation, however, borrows only slightly from this story and then throws a bunch of predictable Hollywood crap into it to botch it up. It looks like they tried to mix the subtleties of "Hellblazer" with the over-the-top action of "Blade," and the result is a hodge-podge mix of horror and action which really doesn't fly -- at least, not in terms of what John Constantine's followers from the comics might expect. "Hellblazer" is, in the end, a character-driven story more than an action story, and there's precious little character to be found in the film. And, if you know and love John Constantine as I do, the last shot of the film will leave you, as it did me, cursing at the screen in rage.

Taken on its own, if I ignore the comic for a few moments, the film isn't a bad one. The effects are well-done, and the story clips along nicely. The visions of Hell were detailed and gruesome, and I appreciated the effort that went into them. Keanu doesn't fully convey the nature of the lead character, but he also doesn't lapse into his usual lazy style -- not a single "whoa" moment to be found in the whole movie! The real star, for me, was Rachel Weisz, as Angela. She pretty much stole every scene she was in, and was clearly the better actor of the two leads. Another highlight in terms of acting was Tilda Swinton as the Archangel Gabriel, trapped on Earth and giving Constantine advice on how to redeem himself. Swinton lends a cold, androgynous quality to the angel which was quite remarkable. There are also a few really good "gotcha" moments, especially for Constantine, moments when his character did glimmer through a bit.

Basically, "Constantine" is a good action movie with horror overtones. Those going to see it expecting nothing more than this will likely be pleased.

However, those seeing it hoping for a decent adaptation of the comic book are going to be let down in a big way. This Constantine has an American accent, he uses lots of guns, and he isn't as blithe or as harsh as he could be. In short, he's not OUR Constantine.

And that last shot in the film...oh, I could just spit fire over that one.

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September 28, 2010
Never read the comic but I doubted the film had much to do with it because such is the nature of Hollywood. I agree with you though that I wasn't half bad for a one time spin. And Tilda Swinton was a remarkable choice for Gabriel--I found myself wondering what THE PROPHECY might have been like with her in that role instead of Christopher Walken. Talk about a totally different flick! =)
More Constantine reviews
Quick Tip by . February 05, 2012
Sure, this film deviates from the source material by making John Constantine American instead of British. Sure, it changes its setting and backdrop. Sure, it doesn't have the gritty, dark, often uneasy tone and mood set in the Vertigo comics....But I would be lying if I said that Francis Lawrence's interpretation of the comic character wasn't fun to watch. (I have read the series since its inception) It made the changes to cater to a more mainstream audience and non-readers …
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Keanu Reeves kicks ass in this film following a excercist in his battle against the devil himself.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
suprisingly good movie. interesting story that makes you actually want to see the rest.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Keanu Reeves kicks ass in this film following a excorist in his battle against the devil himself.
review by . December 23, 2008
Loosely based upon the dark comic book and graphic novel series published by DC Comics/Vertigo, Constantine is a supernatural thriller with amazing visual effects, thrilling action, and a great cast. Unfortunately, the film's screenplay, which was written by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello, fails to capture the spirit of the books. Rather than keeping the characters as they are in the books, the writers have taken liberties that minimalize the effect of the story. In the books, John Constantine …
review by . December 30, 2009
Hell breaks loose in L.A. and there's only one man who can saves us, Constantine....
Constantine is not your usual supernatural thriller, no Constantine breaks all the rules that the genre has put in stone, it breaks down the wall and builds a new one based on it's own mythology. And may I say that it does a n amazing job at that.         This film is not something I usually watch, in fact I was very skeptical when I deiced to view just to see if it was any good, boy was I surprised! Constantine was amazing!! This film blew my hair back and took my …
review by . April 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
A lot of people are saying that Constantine is wrong because Keanu Reeves is wrong for the part but I see it differently. See I'm no fan of Reeves and I actually think of him as a dry and predictable actor that always acts the same in every film. The stories he gets and his supporting cast is so good that they make him look even better and he gets a high price tag. Constantine needed an actor to play the character as a mean, intimidating, and vicious loner and who better to play that than a man …
review by . April 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Visuals, Ms. Weisz     Cons: Keanu Reeves; direction; plot     The Bottom Line: In the end, as the credits roll, there isn¬ít much of a story in Constantine, there are far too many loose ends and tangling story lines.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. The Struggle. On one side, Good, the other side, Evil. On one side God, the other Satan known in some circles both Greek and Christian, as …
review by . May 14, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: The most unusual 'quit smoking' regimen I've seen anyone use!      Cons: Drags a bit, potential to be overwhelmingly broody, and a bit choppy in places.      The Bottom Line: More grown-up than Hellboy, the Bottom Line is useful in banishing those pesky demons!      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Have you ever felt watched when no one was there, or felt like the rope …
review by . July 23, 2005
The trailer for CONSTANTINE made it looking vaguely intriguing: majestic wingspan lifting above Gabriel's head, murky derring-do in the streets of Los Angeles, the presence of Tilda Swinton (always involved - until now - in interesting dramatic films), Rachel Weisz, Djimon Hounsou, and yes, Keanu Reeves. So what happened?    Director Francis Lawrence should stick to his prior experience with making music videos. After the first few minutes of this tired and monotonous script …
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Rich Stoehr ()
Ranked #20
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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About this movie


With the ability to identify angels and demons as they exist on Earth, Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is tormented and set apart from other people. He is self destructive and angry, yet he does the right thing in protecting the citizens of Los Angeles from the dark forces that surround them. However, when he falls in love with a cop (Rachel Weisz), everything begins to change.

In the grand scheme of theological thrillers,Constantine aspires for the greatness of The Exorcist but ranks more closely with The Order. Based on the popular Hellblazer comic book series, and directed with nary a shred of intelligence by music video veteran Francis Lawrence, it's basically The Matrix with swarming demons instead of swarming machines. Keanu Reeves slightly modifies his Matrix persona as John Constantine, who roams the dark-spots of Los Angeles looking for good-evil, angel-devil half-breeds to ensure that "the balance" between God and Satan is properly maintained. An ancient artifact and the detective twin of a woman who committed evil-induced suicide (Rachel Weisz) factor into the plot, which is taken so seriously that you'll want to stand up and cheer when Tilda Swinton swoops down as the cross-dressing angel Gabriel and turns this silliness into the camp-fest it really is. The digital effects are way cool (dig those hellspawn with the tops of their heads lopped off!), so if you don't mind a juvenile lesson in pseudo-Catholic salvation,Constantine is just the movie ...
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Director: Francis Lawrence
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Release Date: February 18, 2005
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Akiva Goldsman
DVD Release Date: July 19, 2005
Runtime: 2hrs 1min
Studio: Warner Bros.
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