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Overall Rating
3.47

Awesome: 19.02%
Worth A Look41.72%
Just Average: 17.18%
Pretty Crappy: 11.66%
Sucks: 10.43%

10 reviews, 103 user ratings


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Constantine
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A future cult movie for those willing to embrace both its virtues and flaws"
4 stars

“Constantine” poses that there is a constant battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell for the souls of all mankind, but that is nothing compared to the epic struggle between the mind and the heart that I found myself undergoing while watching it. The mind kept telling me that this was one of the silliest and most awesomely confusing movies in recent memory–a sound-and-light show that uses lavish special effects and a breakneck pace to cover up a screenplay so muddled that even the writers themselves might flunk a quiz on its details. The heart, on the other hand, kept reminding that while it was quite a bad movie, it was never a boring one and that the sheer insanity was close to a blessed relief from most of the formulaic films that have been coming down the pike lately.

Based on the “Hellblazer” comic book (how faithfully or loosely I cannot say), “Constantine” stars Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a man who, in another time (and another movie) would have been a tough-as-nails private eye; he has a caustic remark for every occasion, always looks as if he just fell out of bed and is so hard-boiled that when he is informed that his cigarette habit has left him with an advanced case of lung cancer, his reaction is to light up another one between coughing fits. Things aren’t that easy for him, however; he was born with the gift/curse to see the agents of Heaven and Hell that surround us all everyday–visions that tormented him so greatly that he committed suicide as a result. Sadly, he was brought back to life after his soul was condemned and his job on Earth is to send wayward demons back to where they came in an effort to spiritually buy his way back into Heaven. (At least that is what I think he does; “Constantine” may do many things but sweating the details isn’t one of them.)

More or less against his will, he finds himself aiding cop Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) in trying to discover why her devoutly religious twin sister would have committed suicide and damned her own soul. Before long, Constantine begins to tie in the sister to the increased activity of ever-more-powerful demons who seem to attack whenever there is a lull in the narrative. How these threads come together I leave for you to discover, aside from mentioning that they involve the archangel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton), Satan’s right-hoof man Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale, clearly no stranger to mysterious pacts with Satan), a wise-ass kid (Shia LaBeouf), crucifix-bedecked shotguns and brass knuckles, the use of kitty-cats as a portal to the depths of Hell and a depiction of that famous maxim that says that if you introduce the Spear of Destiny (the spear that killed Christ, for those of you who missed “The Passion of the Christ”) in the first act of a story, you had best better use it by the last.

The above may sound utterly screwy but I assure you that I am making it sound far more coherent in the retelling that it plays out on screen. Simply put, the film is a mess that isn’t nearly clever as it thinks it is–the notion of fusing the private eye and satanic horror genres has been done before, most notably the mostly brilliant “Angel Heart” and the odd cable film “Cast a Deadly Spell”–and it is kind of amusing to discover that the film hasn’t discovered a theological argument that couldn’t be solved for the ages with an explosion or a punch to the face. Additionally, all the characters (even Satan, portrayed by Peter Stormare in a manner that makes Al Pacino’s turn in “The Devil’s Advocate” appear minimalist by comparison) seem to have vaguely defined powers that, when finally deployed, are so all-powerful that you begin to wonder why they didn’t just use them in the first place and save everyone a lot of time and energy. Then again, I suppose I shouldn’t expect deep eschatological thinking from a film directed by the guy who did the “Cry Me a River” video (Francis Lawrence) and a writing team ( Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello) who have penned, between them, the likes of “Suburban Commando,” “Flubber,” “Timeline” and the still-shelved “Mindhunters.”

And yet, while the film grows more and more preposterous by the minute, there was a small part of me that was actually kind of enjoying it despite, or possibly because of, its lurid excesses. First off, this is one of the best-looking bad movies in recent memory; cinematographer Philippe Rousselot gives it a haunting visual style (hellish and grimy in a strangely beautiful way) that focuses attention even as the narrative is flying off the rails. Additionally, while Keanu Reeves may initially seem like a bad fit for the role–less because of the fact that he isn’t British like the character in the comics and more because he still seems too baby-faced for the ultra-cynical Constantine–he does have a facility (no doubt developed during the “Matrix” movies) of making even the most bewildering sights seem like just another day on the job and not just an actor looking at effects that won’t be added in for a few months. Finally, I enjoyed the fact that while it may be ridiculously pretentious, it does so in such a straightforward way that it is hard to resist it after a while; after all, when was the last time that you heard a character in a movie bellow “I will smite thee!”and genuinely sound as if they meant it?

Rational people should probably avoid “Constantine” like the plague; its lurid charms will be lost on those who demand a staid sensibility in their popcorn entertainment. For those who don’t require such things, “Constantine” can be seen as one of those future cult movies beloved by those willing to embrace both its virtues and flaws equally. Myself, while I am not certain that I would willingly pony up any money to see it again anytime soon, I maintain a grudging affection for it and I can envision a time in which I might find myself firing up the DVD–most likely with the sound either muted or turned to one of the foreign-language tracks.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11745&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/17/05 22:48:02
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell flawed but imaginative 4 stars
4/26/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Lked it. If only because I thought it a SeaBiscuit sequel, and it wasn't 4 stars
1/02/09 the dork knight ...why do the characters whisper so much? 3 stars
8/03/08 Farnsy Yes I agree, I hated it 1 stars
6/21/08 Jeffrey G You're either going to love it or hate it. I loved it.. 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT SLOW, SILLY, STUPID, INTOLERABLE, OFFENSIVE 1 stars
10/23/07 Ivana Mann Unintelligible dialogue,incomprehensible "plot."The Exorcist for frat boys.Blech! 1 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers love this movie. cool story. pretty good acting. 5 stars
4/11/07 fools♫gold I can't decide whether I like it or not, and I like it when that happens! 2 stars
1/30/07 William Boyle A good story badly told. Reeves is Mr Smith on tranquillizers. 3 stars
12/04/06 porcelain piece one of the best films ive seen ... <333 5 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist The film would have been better if they ditched that cheeseball, Keanu Reeves,if you ask me 2 stars
6/26/06 Criddic2 Effects, art direction fine; overdone much of the time tho 3 stars
4/20/06 Isis Bethea This movie is the best i have seen since the Matrix. I love Keanu Reeves in this movie 5 stars
3/18/06 Martin Very interesting and beautiful site. It is a lot of helpful information. Thanks! 5 stars
2/19/06 kirk a work of art! 5 stars
12/29/05 Simon Entertained; but terribly acted and scripted. 3 stars
11/25/05 CONSTANTINE AWSOME... Could've been BETTER; the sequeal should redeem itself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/15/05 Adrian As far as comic book movies go, it's great. Other than that, its mediocre. 4 stars
10/25/05 Last Tango Imp Heiress Why hasn't the spear of destiny been beaten into the pruning hook of deatiny by now? 4 stars
10/16/05 BillW God has forsaken us...He allowed this hideous film to be made! 1 stars
10/11/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME... Sort of! 5 stars
9/12/05 Indrid Cold Special effects: 50 million. Decent script: priceless, apparently. 2 stars
8/28/05 John F fell sleep!!!!!!!! 2 stars
8/18/05 ES feelings of hellboy and van helsing, never a good sign 1 stars
8/16/05 Betty Ann Kahn Probably the worst movie I have ever seen. First of all, it's based on the premise that Hel 1 stars
8/16/05 john smith mediocre acting, other than that it was awesome 4 stars
8/08/05 jada boring, yawn, glad it was only a rental 2 stars
8/06/05 Monday Morning Impressive effects but the story and acting were truly terrible 2 stars
8/04/05 JFK great film 4 stars
8/01/05 tatum No big deal... 4 stars
7/31/05 Kenny Tew The only good thing about this film is that its bad enough to be laugh out loud funny. 1 stars
7/29/05 john constantine this movie is the bomb. 5 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Reeves redeemsself from the Matrix fiasco. Stunning. 5 stars
7/25/05 Dan Kind of hard to follow, but still very thought provoking. 4 stars
7/08/05 Moctezuma Dark, original, and downright fun. I loved it! 5 stars
7/02/05 kaz at last!! an adult comic book story!! 5 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon yo duuuude... i can't act! i can like say the words but i'm sooo uuuunconvincing duuude. 2 stars
5/21/05 Cham Not an ounce of originality to be found, but a great flick for the big screen. 3 stars
5/11/05 Mike Didn't like it, sorry. 2 stars
4/29/05 Mider great stuff 4 stars
4/29/05 Mider Excellent 4 stars
4/29/05 Peter Only Rachel Weisz gives a great performance here 3 stars
4/20/05 Krisan definatly spooky :) 4 stars
4/19/05 Nicole Baugh Wasn't what I epected it to be form trailer, but I still liked it. 4 stars
4/19/05 The Sorrow This is way better than "HELLBOY"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/18/05 Maril Smith Loved this film - Keanu Reeves played an excellent sarcastic hero in an intriguing plot 5 stars
4/16/05 Cary Gordon A little to Keanu-ized for those who liked the books, but still decent. 4 stars
4/16/05 Gail Crawford well done, intense 5 stars
4/13/05 Littlepurch I enjoyed it.Keanu and Weisz great leads. Wasn't all mindless action.Liked Satan at da end. 4 stars
4/09/05 Vince Dull fanboy drivel 1 stars
4/01/05 irene diaz Entertaining, but not very good plot wise 3 stars
3/25/05 Brad If you check your brain out at the door, it's fun 4 stars
3/24/05 hannaho As a fan of the comic book, I've got to say somewhat disappointing. 3 stars
3/23/05 Christine I really liked this one very much and Keanu was great! 5 stars
3/22/05 Victoria Ross I like watching Keanu Reeves in any movie. 4 stars
3/21/05 Obi Wan One of the DVD collection! Very good film, Keanu was better than most days! 5 stars
3/21/05 xxplosive Had it's faults but in all it was good. 4 stars
3/19/05 Lord Jiggy Worthy effort, visually stunning, interesting pace. Check it out. 4 stars
3/18/05 Rachel Freaking loved it, and did anyone stay after the credits? 5 stars
3/18/05 PAMELA HANSEN a msut see for all a definite mustr buy whenon dvd cannot wait 5 stars
3/15/05 G I thought the movie was good, did not see any holes in the plot, excellent FX. 5 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow One of the best medicore "comic-book-adaptations" ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
3/09/05 kaz hey..i liked a walk in the clouds!! 5 stars
3/08/05 Shirley the noir mood is fascinating 5 stars
3/07/05 Caiphn What does he say? "Demons.. and talons".. can't remember, but funny! 3 stars
3/05/05 maxomai Good flick, left me wanting more. Keanu doesn't fit here. 4 stars
3/02/05 Adam almost as bad as another Keanu reves movie "A walk in the clouds" 1 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung keanu, stick to matrix movies 2 stars
3/01/05 Jack Bourbon Nonsensical, and Peter Stormare was silly 2 stars
3/01/05 If the Spear of Destiny really fulfilled Biblical prophecy..... It would have been beaten into the Pruning Hook of Destiny by now! 3 stars
3/01/05 "Tilda Swinton" is really Cate Blanchett Exorcist meets Alien meets Clockstoppers. Still peculiarly appealing somehow. 4 stars
3/01/05 milk funny and action packed. a real treat. make sure you stay after the trailer. ^__^ 5 stars
2/27/05 Meryl Wonderful. First movie I've loved in a long time. 5 stars
2/27/05 mike a total waste of time 1 stars
2/26/05 M Its like a 2 hr long anti smoking ad! Very silly!! 2 stars
2/26/05 Graves Lets hope that "Constantine 2" is far more like the "Hellblazer" comics + it'll be better!! 3 stars
2/25/05 James Kiang Not being too familiar with the source material, I found the movie sufficiently dark. 4 stars
2/25/05 Elizabeth S Enjoyed the visuals, theme, and Keanu's world-weary performance. 3 stars
2/24/05 "Tilda Swinton" is really Cate Blanchett Exorcist meets Alien meets Clockstoppers. Still peculiarly appealing somehow. 4 stars
2/24/05 Comixchick Read the comic from day one; still thought the movie was OK. Not great, OK. 4 stars
2/24/05 kaz LOVED IT!! Dream cast..spellbinding visuals 5 stars
2/22/05 othree Not Reeves' most excellent adventure +s on characters and comedy, best apocalyptic scenery 3 stars
2/22/05 Kefanii Nothing like the Hellblazer series, but who cares (besides bitter fans)? It was fantastic. 5 stars
2/22/05 Derek Movie Reviwers are FAR too analytical, but that's their job. Movie was GREAT 5 stars
2/22/05 Reign It's very nice. Especially for feeling psychic like me. 4 stars
2/22/05 re morgan I thought it was a 7 out of 10. i'm not familiar with the comic - it was good tho 4 stars
2/21/05 Graham K Cchei: go having read the comic book and you won't like it. Trust me. 2 stars
2/21/05 guisada good. 4 stars
2/20/05 Ahnold Stupid, very, very stupid. 1 stars
2/20/05 Jim The Movie Freak The longest anti-smoking ad ever! Kinda lame, kinda interesting. A rental at best. 3 stars
2/20/05 K Cchei Go knowing it's based on a comic book and you will enjoy it 5 stars
2/20/05 Mark D Fulwiler dumb 2 stars
2/20/05 Edler The story has some problems, badly organized, lots of holes, but not bad 4 stars
2/20/05 leon trotsky This should have sucked...but somehow it came together OK. 4 stars
2/20/05 Gray not bad, but could have been great 3 stars
2/20/05 jeff nothin special. slow at times. 3 stars
2/19/05 y2mckay Far better than I expected. Fresh, sharply written, and KEANU IS GOOD! (I'm shocked too) 4 stars
2/19/05 KingNeutron Gabriel the 1/2 angel had a nice booty. :) 5 stars
2/19/05 BrianWilly I really liked it; a great mind**** of a film 5 stars
2/18/05 nick2k not bad for a movie about religion... 4 stars
2/18/05 Ronald Salazar I enjoyed the movie. 4 stars
2/12/05 dbx Saw it; was not at all what I expected; so much fun! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Feb-2005 (R)
  DVD: 19-Jul-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Feb-2005




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