If you are not a fan of the comic book, Constantine might be enjoyable. It's not a very good movie, but it's not terrible for what it is. But they completely, utterly failed to capture the character.

The comic book Constantine is a con man. That's it, that is his one purpose in life. He knows a tiny bit of magic, and convinces everyone he knows more than he does, but fundamentally, he's a grifter and a self-centered bastard.

The movie Constantine is a freelance exorcist, spending his time pulling devils out of little girls in an attempt to attone for his own attempted suicide and earn his way into heaven. Um, what? Who's this guy? I guess he saves the world or something. By the time it happened, I didn't care.

Tilda Swinton is absolutely fantastic as Gabriel, and the guy who plays Satan is pretty good. Everybody else phones it in.

The broken-skull demons were totally uninspired and boring. They were less scary than nippless harpies.

And I cannot believe we were expected to take it seriously when he was attacked by Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas.

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24 Responses:

  1. azul_ros says:

    Tilta Swinton is a great actress. And if I see the movie I'll probably enjoy it because I've never read the comic.

  2. bonniegrrl says:

    I honestly really liked it, and I love the Hellblazer comics.
    I have to agree with you that Tilda Swinton is absolutely fantastic as Gabriel. She really is an underused actress.

    I alos liked the dark film noir feel to it.
    And the subtle humorous touches like Constantine having a yellow rubber ducky was pretty damn cool.

    • benediktus says:

      tilda is indeed a great actress.

      did anyone see this movie where she played 4 roles. it's about a
      doctor who cloned herself 3 times and those copies are, by
      error, genetically addicted to sperm. i can't remember the title...
      but i liked the hilarious sexual disease.

  3. mark242 says:

    Keanu Reeves can't do con-man. It's out of his scope of ability. He has the "everyman" antihero piece down, which I suspect is why he got cast in the role. Who else would you cast as a con-man? Understand that, as a comic book movie, you need to have a big star in order to sell it to a non-comic-reading audience (unfortunate in these days, but a sad fact).

    Caveat as I haven't read the comic book, but with my understanding of the character, I think Keanu's a much better choice than, say, Ashton Kutcher. Speaking of, I am utterly appalled at the remake of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.

    • sim_james says:

      Who else would you cast as a con-man?

         Off the top of my head – probably Jude Law.

    • I'm not sure Reeves really has anything "down", per se. He managed to escape the whole Bill & Ted thing, at least in Hollywood (though it's impossible to watch a movie within him it without someone MST3k'ing a couple of "Dude, whoa"s), but I don't expect we'll see anything other than warmed-over Neo out of him, like, ever.

      • lifelike001 says:

        my precise opinion, and how sad for mr reeves.

        i play a game with friends: what role would you like to see played by .... (insert name of grotesquely typecast actor) play? and id really like to see keanu play the lead in a film based on the life of richard ramirez :D

  4. I basically approached it as a movie about a magician who just happens to be named John Constantine. Otherwise the disappointment would be too great.

  5. internebbish says:

    But they completely, utterly failed to capture the character.

    I only know the character peripherally through the Sandman but your line above realized my worst fears. Swinton though sounds like she alone is worth the price of admission.

    Given the cost of movies like this I'm even more amazed that the Sin City movie manages to stay true to the feel of the comic.

    • jwz says:

      See, I think Sin City is going to be a complete disaster. I'm sure it will be visually a lot like the comic, but I expect it will be like seeing a camera pointed at someone flipping pages in the book going, "Look! Look! Look how clever we are for having exactly duplicated the framing of this page!"

      It will be nice if I'm surprised, but I expect it to be a total cringe-fest.

  6. guyver3 says:

    Good, I'm not insane thinking the movie was crap.

    Now I wonder how A Scanner Darkly will fare.
    I like PKD, but haven't liked too many movie adaptations of his stories.
    Plus the cel shading filter used on the movie might just be a tad annoying.

  7. autodidactic says:

    The broken-skull demons were totally uninspired and boring. They were less scary than nippless harpies.

    ">It's so totally not cold out at all! Whoops, wrong movie. Same gestalt, though.

    Going to a "comic book movie" probably produces the same emotional state as 1950's skiffy schlock did for people in that time era.


  8. greyhame says:

    I'm curious, and don't think I remember seeing a post on the subject: did you see Hellboy?

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, I thought Hellboy was pretty good!

      • greyhame says:

        I did too, and thought it did a good job adapting the feel of the comic to the requirements of a movie, but I've had some fans of the comic tell me they thought it was terrible. I sort of wonder what they would have wanted.

        Of course, Hellboy had been in the works since before The Matrix, X-Men and Spider-Man came out, which probably has something to do with why it didn't suck.

        • See, I became a fan of the comic book when I heard about the movie, and I was completely happy with it.

          I think hardcore fans of the comic book might have been bitching about the way they conflated a bit of history and mucked with the order of continuity but, really, screw those people.

  9. xtat says:

    Hmm. The comic book Constantine sounds much more interesting. I really enjoyed Swinton as Gabriel.

  10. 21cdb says:

    Look at all the other "inspired by" crap with his name on it: I, Robot, 2 Batman movies, Lost In Space.. The list is pretty shameful.

  11. greyaenigma says:

    But they completely, utterly failed to capture the character

    I've read the entirety of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer, and I have to disagree. I think by and large, they came as close as one could expect to the comic character. Except that they should have cast Sting (how many characters can you cast the guy the character was modelled after) and they really, really, shouldn't have made it an action movie in the second half.

    I was pretty surprised by how many elements from the comics they wove in. Although I'd rather have seen Map than Papa Midnight. Oh, and Chas was all wrong. Better to leave him out.