For my second theatrical film experience in 2005, I went to see Constantine. Based on the HellBlazer graphic novels, the film is about John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), and his latest battle to save our world. (In a nutshell.) The premise is this: God and Satan made a bet for the souls of all mankind. They cannot have their minions (angels/demons) directly inhabit our plane, but they can exert influence. There are “half-breeds” who are among us, and Constantine is one of those who can see them – and when they get out of line, he sends them back to Hell. He’s doing this because he killed himself (and thus consigned himself to Hell), and is now trying to gain entry into Heaven by getting in God’s good grace. Or something like that. So he does exorcisms and the like, all the while dying from a chain-smoking habit.
The film starts out with talk about the Spear of Destiny, which is found in (of all places) Mexico. Whoever weilds the spear will be all powerful – so of course, it’s all part of a prophecy to bring about the reign of the son of Satan on earth. Or something like that.
We also have cop Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), whose twin sister Isabel dies under mysterious circumstances. This brings her and Constantine together, and slowly he realizes that something bigger is going on – the demons aren’t playing by the rules anymore.
It’s a lengthy film (a little over 2 hours), and you might find yourself scratching your head at some of it, but while it might have plot holes and more than a few lingering question marks, I really enjoyed it. I tend to really get into the type of back-story elements that explore ancient/Biblical mythologies, so I was really digging it. The ideas of Hell, as explored and shown in the film, are pretty cool too – it’s like an “alternate” version of our world, with flame and fire and nasty demons and all sortsa stuff. Which reminds me – the opening logos are the coolest in years.
The visual effects are really well done, and some of the set-pieces are pretty exciting. Peter Stormare’s portrayal of Satan is quite unique, too, and I like how there was an underlying level of black humor to the film – it wasn’t comedic, but it did lighten it up just a tad.
The music by Brian Tyler is pretty good – it works really well in the context of the film, and adds a great layer of tension and darkness to an already dark film. Towards the end though, it was obvious where Klaus Badelt’s contribution was used; the electric cello suddenly popped up, and things seemed even “lighter”, which is funny considering we’re talking about a film about Hell.
With not much else out these days worth seeing (I’ve heard good things about Hitch, but haven’t seen it…), if you’re looking for a dark film about the occult, then Constantine is for you. I’m certainly gonna check out the HellBlazer series now, that’s for sure!