Monday, February 14, 2005

Constantine

I had apprehension when I was about to watch this movie. Foremost was Keanu Reeve as the starring role of John Constantine, I would forever think that he will never escape his persona as Neo from the Matrix. Every corner I was expecting Mr Smith to pop up and say “Welcome back Mr Anderson, we missed you” or people keep on saying “You are the one”. Well he did look like his counterpart in The Matrix, shades, heavy dark suits and the rough yet blur look he always spot. But his performance was okay, he portrayed his role as well as the tragic exorcist who was trying to buy his way into heaven by sending delinquent half breeds back to hell. With his cigarrete pulling, sleeves tucking and gung ho attitude, he makes a fine anti-hero.

I didn’t catch the comic Hellblazer before I saw the movie and maybe any prejudices that I had were not present say as for me viewing Lord of the Rings or X-men. The story was fleshed out well to us newbie, mysteriously showing Constantine in his macho rough and tumble, take shit from nobody attitude in an exorcism. Soon the story builds up and slowly reveals the setting that the movie takes place in. The premise was interesting, a contest to see whether God or the Devil will win the most souls on earth, a wager, no interference besides suggestive thought from agents called half breeds.

Camera styles might be disorienting but lovely effects such as close-ups, angled shots with the pace of the story well run with moments of high intensity interjected with slow scenes which did not detract the pace, instead added elements that made the whole movie work (such as the part where the detective was submerged in the bathtub). It conjures a noir style like old time detective movies without resorting to camera edit tricks such as those in Sky Captain and this made the whole movie more believable, as if around us good and evil battles behind every fa├žade and we’re thick in the midst of it. The rendering of the special effects are spectacular, no fast pace whirl quckies like in Alien versus Predator, the minions of hell are fleshed out in lurid detail for all to see.

Funny though if the censorship board did not decide to forgo this for it's theme of heaven and hell like they tried with other movies. Maybe the part with John Constantine's battle with lung cancer from smoking bodes well with the government's 'Tak Nak' campaign to quit smoking. Well there were so many scenes to remind you to quit lighting up that it could be a campign for anti-smoking in itself. The comic relief is a welcome touch but not too much to detract from the dreary backdrop and feel.

All in all this has been a very refreshing movie after a dearth of lacklustre titles and disappointment such as Elektra. The actors (most of which I haven’t even heard about) did their roles well, especially Lou aka Lucifer, he just cracks you up like some mafia boss from Las Vegas; Gabriel the Angel with his/her aloft attitude and self righteousness as well as the other casts such as the Detective Dodson, Midnite, Chas and Balthazar. In the end there is no good or evil, right or wrong, heaven or hell, it’s just us. I recommend a watch for this flick.

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