Constantine (2005)
Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Premise: In this adaptation of the Hellblazer comic book series, John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is a supernatural detective who is in the middle of a battle between heaven and hell.

What Works: The film features a surprising amount of humor, most of which is conveyed through Reeves’ performance. The special effects are not groundbreaking but they are impressive, especially the scenes taking place in hell. These scenes manage to feel alive and threatening and avoid some of the lame or hokey traps that many other fire-and-brimstone portrayals of Hell fall into. The cinematography of the film is very good, with unexpected angles and unique uses of the focus and lens choices that elevate the film above many others in its genre.

What Doesn’t: The film lacks a sense of urgency. Like most comic book films, the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance but it is never quite clear how, and the film fails to convey a sense narrative purpose. There are some interesting supporting characters, such as Midnite (Djimon Hounsou), but they do not get enough screen time to become unique, fleshed out characters.

Bottom Line: Constantine is above average for its genre. The film’s humor saves the picture when it runs the risk of taking itself too seriously. It should be enjoyable for fans of Spawn, From Hell, and Hellboy.

 

Episode: #44 (March 20, 2005)