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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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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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on 2 May 2005
Keanu Reeves has returned to the big screen, alongside Rachel Weisz, in this action packed special effects extravaganza of a horror movie as John Constantine, a man who sees things that no-one else can see or want to see.
After trying to kill himself John Constantine has now got to try and earn his place back in heaven by ridding the earth of hellbound demons but things are getting worse as the Devil's son is trying to resurrect himself to unleash the Apocalypse.
Overall, the film was very good. However it did have the tendency to drag on so for those who like their action non-stop beware but stick with it because it does pay off. Also for the faint-hearted there are some 'jumpy' moments so beware also.

With some good performances by Reeves and Weisz, a good story, superb special effects and some jump out of your seat moments nothing can stop Constantine from entering your DVD collection.
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on 6 August 2006
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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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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on 7 September 2005
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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on 13 July 2005
Constantine, a story of an exorsists struggle regarding heaven, hell and the balance of life and influence, has become one of my favourite movies of all time. Why you ask? I hope the following review will answer this question.
From the start, the first thing I noticed about this film, is that all the camera shots are very square, parallel and dead centered. This is something I have really appreciated ever since my viewing of "Solaris". I think the centralised shots not only give the film a balance visually, but suggest a balance to the story also (yin/yang, heaven/hell and earth being the middle man to these two forces). Although these camera shots can feel slightly clinical at times, this just adds to the story, due to the earthly planes ignorance (and therefore lack of emotion) regarding the higher and lower planes of existence.
Having not read any of the Hellblazer comics, I am probably not qualified to judge, but I think Keanu Reeves portrays a good Constantine, from what I know of the character. His angry, chilled out persona had already been developed during his Matrix experience, and therefore he was perfectly tuned for such a movie. Rachel Wiesz is a brilliant counterpart to Reeve's character, purely because she injects life at exactly the right moments (probably because Keanu can become lifeless, due to his "overtly" laid back performance at times). The supporting cast, including the Devil, Gabriel, the priest, the "geek", the sidekick and Midnite are all great in their own ways (psychotic, elegant, obsessive, nuerotic, eager and mysterious) thus again, liting the film up to an even more enjoyable level.
The imagination and depiction of "Hell" is great, and very visually pleasing, and Hell's occupants are also well done and very fitting graphically. The numerous "half-breed's" that Constantine encounters are all brilliantly executed, and have clearly been worked hard on, CG wise. The angelic, yet realistic "wings" are very powerful symbolically, and the Devels offspring has an intense yet deadly silent quality about him.
Without giving too much else away - and thus spoiling the surprises (don't you hate that?) - all I can say is, this film is a must see. I am personally not particularly religious, however, I still rate this film highly for entertainment and imagination. This film is deep if you let it be deep. A lot of it's conclusion and passage is a personal conclusion so the depth is really what you, the audience, makes of it.
Excellent film-making, cinematography and directing. Definatly one for my DVD shelf.
I now patiently await Constantine 2!
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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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VINE VOICEon 3 December 2013
I have watched this film repeatedly and it should be good and, in some ways, it is, but it's not. Not really. I want it to be good. I'm always rooting for it, but it's not good, which is a shame, as it should be good.

Plus points - Keanu Reeves shows again - as he did in The Devil's Advocate - that he can do horror in a very cool, insouciant way. He makes sense of the whole John Constantine thing (best exemplified by the way he walks into Midnight's club and with his - well delivered - hand gesture to Lucifer at a critical moment.) Critical fans of the comic book should give him a break - who would be better? Tilda Swinton. Unclear there's any need to elaborate - that woman could read the voice over on Homes Under The Hammer and make it good. She's in this film - therefore it's better than it could have been.

Minus points - a lot, sadly. One, Shia la Boeuf - before he got famous and before he got good - Oh hang on - still waiting for the latter. Too much action; not enough creepiness. Seriously daft, Catholic theology based plot. Catholics don't believe the whole 'suicides go to Hell stuff' so why should a global audience buy it? The Exorcist, another catholic film, does it all far more subtly. Rachel Weitz - really under-whelming. She has two roles here and she stuffs them both up. To give her a break, the script gives her character(s) no chance to live or develop, but I thought she was wooden.

However the main problem with this is that it postulates a whole cosmology about demons and angels which makes human existence seem like a pathetic game of charades, which it may be, but i don't need a rubbish horror film to assert this. It is all best left to the imagination and - in this film - it's not.

Satan's a blast though
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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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on 5 July 2006
Everyone seems to knock Keanu Reeves for lack of acting ability - the parts hardly seem to require a broad range of technique, and in this case, it was a kind of Matrix revisited, but with the exception that whereas the Matrix sequels were just silly, this was a bit like the first Matrix movie in many ways. It also reminded me of Bladerunner, in good ways. There was a reasonable balance of cgi and story, and all in all it entertained and is watchable again - something that can't be said for all movies.
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