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3.9 out of 5 stars
Constantine [HD DVD]
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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2005
It seemed, when details of the casting for this film were released, that the minds of a million nerdy Hellblazer fans (me included) exploded in disbelief and anger. Keanu Reeves as John Constantine!! That's Keanu 'dark hair, American' Reeves as very English ex-punk, chain-smoker and Sting lookalike John Constantine!!! Eh, how's that gonna work?? we cried, and scratched our heads bemusedly.
Well, i have to say, i think the film is good. It's darker than most Hollywood productions, which is always welcome, and it does try valiantly to stick to some aspects of the comics. The biggest mistake made here is definately the changes in the character of Chas (shameful!), and not the casting of Keanu!
The premise is one fairly familiar to those who read comics of any sort i'd imagine, not a particularly in-depth plot, but one that adheres to JC's character very well, and draws on the Dangerous Habits story-lines. Basically, after trying to commit suicide, he is attempting to gain his place in heaven back by killing demons running free on Earth. He encounters a young cop, played by Rachel Weisz, who needs help investigating the strange death of her twin sister. Never fear though, this meeting does not herald the beginning of yet another dull, vacuous, pointless Hollywood love interest story-line. JC would much rather kiss a Marlboro than a girl, ya see!!
As the film goes on, a bigger plot is unveiled, involving the resurrection of the Devil's own son, here on Earth. There's a nice little acting debut from Gavin Rossdale as the snappy-dressing demon Balthazar, and a quite true-to-the-comics depiction of Papa Midnight by the great Djimon Hounsou.
For me, though the acting honours go to the superb Tilda Swinton as the Angel Gabriel. She is highly believable as a sex-less, age-less being such as an angel, and her softly-spoken, subtle acting style perfectly depicts Gabriel as the dangerous and devious character he/she is.
This is a good film on it's own merit, and i don't think it matters if you've read any of the comics, when it comes to this film. This isn't the definitive JC remember, and for that, i think you have to stick to the stories, after all he's a literary character, and maybe he needs to stay that way...
So, Hellblazer fans shouldn't watch this with too many expectations, but if you keep an open mind you might just find yourself enjoying a dark, twisted, interesting film of merit.
So, Keanu Reeves then?
You know, he isn't that bad as JC it has to be said. I mean, he isn't JC, but he does a fair job of nailing a few of the great man's traits, he's certainly moody and bitter. He maybe scowls and tries to look intense a bit too much, but i think this could have ended up a hell of a lot worse than it does. I did miss the biting humour/sarcasm of the real JC in Reeve's performance, which was actually pretty humourless, maybe lapsing into Neo-land a bit too frequently, a bit too much action hero and not enough anti-hero perhaps. But it could have been worse, in my opinion.
All in all, an interesting, dark film, which doesn't capture the comic book hero, but maybe just puts a different spin on him, to entice new readers into the Hellblazer realm, which can't be bad.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2008
I had heard of the film, but never really fancied it, until it was on television and my dad was watching it
At first, it was just on as a background distraction to me, but then it really caught my attention, and I ended up watching the whole film
It is basically about angels and demons, which may not appeal to everyone, but the general storyline is good, and the special effects are brilliant
In fact, I loved the film so much that I actually went out and bought it the next day!
I would recommend this film to anyone who likes to watch films
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2010
What is it about this film that makes me come back to it over and over again and to even buy it again on blu-ray? There are very few films that I will buy again on blu-ray, but amongst them are The Thing,Blade Runner and, when they come out, the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone - and this.

I know there is a lot wrong with this film, but it keeps reminding me of The Dark Knight which is another Warner Brothers film that I keep watching over and over. There are many similarities between them. No - not cast, director, crew or anything else that I can see on IMDB, but still both films have a fantastical film noir feel to them that, it seems, only Warner Brothers can do (other examples include, of course, The Matrix and even, from 1974, The Exorcist).

To start with, the sound tracks are similar. In both, a simple, insistent syncopated beat with largely acoustic instruments (violin, bass, guitar, marimba) is interspersed with moody orchestral chords. There are also one or two sound references to The Matrix, as when Isabel is standing on the roof of the hospital. Then there are several similar shots - such as rain shot from high-up looking down onto the protagonists. And the highly effective use of tinted filters is another seeming stock in trade for Warner Brothers films of this genre.

There are some excellent supporting performances. Apart from a mainly first class performance from Rachel Weisz, there is also Shia LaBeouf delivering a much better performance than he ever managed in the awful Transformers films, Max Baker as 'Beeman', Djimon Hounsou as 'Midnite', the voodoo priest, Pruitt Taylor Vince as Constantine's deranged Catholic priest 'side-kick', Peter Stomare as 'Satan' and, of course, Tilda Swinton as 'Gabriel'. Anything with Tilda Swinton in it is not going to be all bad! And that is far from an exhaustive list.

I have never read the graphic novels, so I came to this 'fresh', so to speak and I am impressed with the depth and multiple layers that the film manages to give to the story. Why does Detective Weiss spend the whole film with his arm in a sling? Clearly, this suicide is outside the normal, material, realms of earthly authorities. It is strange that both demons (Balthazar) and angels (Gabriel) share a taste for pin-stripe suits. At one point when Rachel Weisz's character (Angela Dodson) meets Constantine, she is filmed behind a wall of deep green glass, as though she is under water. Shortly after that, she is immersed for real, (baptised) in order to be able to see the hell her sister is in. Hell itself turns out to be a storm ravaged post-apocalyptic vision of Los Angeles, wrecked flyovers concealing Hieronymus Bosch-like horrors.

And, yes, we get to met Satan. The sheer banality of his evil is perfect; understated but with an aura of malice that fits right in with the cool fantastical horror of the whole story. And then Constantine - not the other DC Comic, Ayn Rand-inspired billionaire techno-hero Batman, but a terrified man aware of his destiny, fighting it and, incidentally, doing 'good' along the way.

O.k. - it's not a Great film, but there's enough here to repay repeated viewing, enough here to leave you thinking.

One tip - maybe you know this already but this film, like The Dark Knight, has an English Dolby True HD soundtrack, but the disc defaults to 'ordinary' English Dolby 5.1 - you have to go into the language settings and select the True HD track.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2008
I bought this DVD purely because of the bargain price, to be honest not expecting much but feeling that if it was even half decent then it was worth the purchase. My expectations were well exceeded. It's not quite the Matrix, but in it's favour it's actually faster paced. The story is good (I've never read the comics on which it's apparently based so I came with no preconceptions), the effects are great, and the ending, whilst probably not qualifying as a twist, I very much doubt that anyone will be expecting. A thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours and very definitely re-watchable.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2005
Obviously since this is not yet released, I'm going on the cinema version, but one would hope that the DVD would be identical.
Simply superb would be the phrase that came to mind. A combination of dark humour and suspense, Constantine manages to be a comic-book adaptation that doesn't take itself too seriously and yet doesn't descend into mediocrity. Reeves brings his usual brooding acting style, matched by a good performance by Weiss, and a lovely cameo by Peter Stormare near the end polishes the film off. Unmissable.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I went to see this in the cinema despite hearing bad reviews about it. I was blown away - it is amazing. If you like movies like the 'Matrix' you will enjoy this too. It is kind of 'The Excorcist meets the 'Matrix' feel. Very scarey in parts but also some really comedic moments. It is certainly up there in my best ever movies list and I would recommend you watch it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2007
I, like many others, have not read the comic books regarding Constantine. What I can say is that the film I found to be enjoyable, well acted and truly riveting. The special effects are great and despite what others may say, there is a storyline which keeps you hooked to the end.

Although I am not a big Keanu Reaves fan, I would rate this film in the same league as The Devils Advocate which I also thought was excellent.

If you see this film with an open mind you will enjoy it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Dreadfully flawed and with a muddled story line, "Constantine" is nevertheless worth watching, for its occasional profound and intense beauty, and its visions of hell and its denizens, which anyone who believes that forces of evil exist and influence our world will find fascinating. Loosely based on characters from the Hellblazer comics, the script is very interesting in parts, but the audio is abysmal. The dialog sounds as if it is coming from an underwater tunnel, and I had to watch the film with subtitles. Also, this is a film that begs to be seen several times, to make some sense of the muddle.
The cast is excellent, and I have always been partial to Keanu Reeves, who as John Constantine, a man dying of lung cancer, who can see, and has walked beyond this dimension, is very good in his own peculiar way. I can't imagine anyone else of his generation playing the part. As he says of the cat in the film, he's "half in, half out," and Reeves also has that quality, of being in the world, but not quite of it. Rachel Weisz, who teamed with Reeves in the far less interesting 1996 "Chain Reaction," is both Angela, a Los Angeles detective, and her twin sister Isabel. She looks gorgeous, and gives a sensitive, lovely performance. Others in the cast that stand out are Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, and Shia LaBeouf, as Chas, Constantine's eager apprentice.
This is the feature directorial debut of Francis Lawrence, who has previously done music videos, and he certainly has an eye for bizarre imagery. The cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is terrific, and much of what is worthwhile in this film is due to him. It is hard to rate this film, as it is, like the battle of good and evil in the story, a mixture of opposites. Total running time is 121 minutes, it is rated R for "violence and demonic images," but is comparatively mild in language and has no in-between the sheets action. The DVD extra is 18 minutes of deleted scenes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The story is simple; self-centered John Constantine: Hellblazer (Keanu Reeves) did a "no no" in his youth ensuring him a place in the underworld and to compound the problem he is to be short lived due to a smoking habit.

Mean time he, due to his accident he has the ability to see angles and demons. Even though he is conceited and knows where he will be going he still finds time to do some good for mankind and in the process send a few demons back where they came from.

Something has gone horribly wrong with the balance. And with the aid of his young sidekick and a medium that is well done by (Rachel Weisz) he intends to get to the nature of the problem.

The character of Constantine comes from the DC comic world and has been modified a tad to fit a movie with a beginning middle and end.

I could not help but notice Tilda Swinton who played Gabriel. She made you feel that you were watching a first class movie.

The only redeeming feature of value of the movie is not the movie it's self but the audio track that explains wheat they are trying to do in the making of the movie. In fact you could just bypass the movie and listen to the voice over audio instead and save yourself two hours.

I think I should have watched the two disk version as even with the audio track they refer to many things that are not in the movie.

Little Buddha ~ Keanu Reeves

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Superbit Collection) ~ Keanu Reeves
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2005
It wasn’t the worst movie of this type, but it certainly wasn't the best. Most of the graphics and some of the action were good. One or two of the characters were just plain silly and I found Keanu Reeves speech slightly annoying. However the film was reasonably entertaining, hence 3 stars.
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