n. hoop·la fac·tor|
degree of entertainment attained irrespective of critical worth
|Writer: Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Kevin Brodbin, Frank A. Cappello|
|Director: Francis Lawrence|
|Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachael Weisz, Djimon Hounsou, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare|
John Constantine in the Vertigo Comic series was a blonde Englishman. Who would you recommend for the role in the movie? Keanu Reeves? Well if that's your answer you're obviously a studio big wig twat who can't see common sense through the benjamins being waved in front of his face.
This blunder may sound like nitpicking to some of you out there, but believe me it's not. Keanu is in fact the only thing standing between Constantine and a good movie. Now, Mr Reeves has had some good roles in the past, and Speed and Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure would be among those. But in both films (and indeed The Matrix series) he played a character who had no idea what was going on around him. He's good at doing that... very convincing. But here we have exorcist/paranormal investigator/über anti-hero John Constantine, and he definitely knows what's what. Thus Keanu is terrible in this role. He tries, oh how he tries... but it's still not enough.
What would have been wrong with, say Paul Bettany? He's up and coming, would have cost the studio less and I'm sure would have played the lead role perfectly. More importantly he's English, so I'm sure he'd have a decent go at the accent too. (Plus he does a good blonde).
What makes Keanu's presence in this film so much worse is that the supporting cast is superb. Tilda Swinton is fantastic as always, playing the part she was born to play. Her Gabriel truly shines opposite the stunted thespiating of Keanu. (See I'm even making up words, that's how angry I am.) Swinton is one of those actors that manages to coast from blockbusters such as The Beach to arthouse films like The War Zone, always leaving the audience dying for more. Djimon Hounsou is fantastic as Midnite, and Peter Stormare takes an often coveted role and truly makes it his own.
The script is pretty good, and certainly much better than the majority of recent comic adaptations (Hellboy springs to mind). The film starts with a bang, and sags about three quarters of the way through before picking up right at the end. One of the best aspects of Constantine is that very little time is spent on blatant exposition we've come to expect in mindless special effects movies.
I'm hoping that Constantine will be successful enough to get more of the Vertigo titles to the big screen. I'm sure everyone's dying for a film version of 'The Sandman', although 'Preacher' would inevitably be toned down, and 'The Invisibles' would simply NEVER get made in the Hollywood studio system.
Reader Feedback - SB reviews Constantine:
I agree with Stuart's review.
This is a better film than recent apocalyptic efforts (Hellboy and End of Days come to mind), however Keanu does nothing to lend it any credibility. Much of the problem comes firstly from showing us Hell and the demons. Hell is much scarier as a concept than as a CGI with Keanu wandering through it. The effect of demons on the possessed - especially little girls whose heads spin around and vomit nasty green stuff - is more disturbing than seeing Gollum-like creatures running about. In this way, Constantine falls far short of classics in the genre such as Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, where much is implied or alluded to.
The other aspect I thought was disappointing was the mixing of imagery. On the one hand, Hell and the damned were depicted very much in the Bosch-style , reminiscent of classical tradition, but the Devil was a fat, bald bloke in a white suit. SPOILERS: The scene of Keanu ascending into Heaven (classically inspired - clouds etc.) while flipping the bird (Top Gun inspired?) to the Devil was appalling. END SPOILERS. Also, the wings on the angels reminded me of Dogma, a film of which I dislike to be reminded (it stinks). Hard to recommend this, unless bored and have seen the half dozen films it resembles and everything else in the cinemas.
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