Angels and Demons
With the new Constantine series coming out next week I felt that it was the right time to re-watch the film. I have to be honest, shamefully I'd never heard of John Constantine before watching this film, besides that he was a comic book character from the series Hellblazer, as I wasn't adventitious with my graphic novels (didn't get comics) back then, only sticking with the normal DC, and Marvel stuff. I did however like nearly any comic book film at the time, and got this on DVD.
After Detective Angela Dodson's sister Isabel commits suicide, Angela tries to find out if she actually comited suicide, as she doesn't believe that she would. With the help of a chain-smoking exorcist named John Constantine she finds the truth to her sisters death, and something much bigger unfolds.
I'll just say from the start that I haven't read any Hellblazer comics, or graphic novels so I don't know exactly how accurate the film is, but I have read up on the characters background so I know that it isn't spot on. This was my introduction to John Constantine as a character, and I liked him enough in the film to read up on him, and I've always meant to get the Hellbalzer series (whenever I considered getting it, it was half way through a story, and I'd forget again when a new story started), but I've finally getting round to it now that a new series is coming out. Anyway, as a film this is brilliant. Like I said I don't know how accurate it is, and I actually think it's probably inaccurate (from what I've read), but as a film it's brilliant. For an action horror film it was very exciting, and entertaining, and I really enjoyed it.
Now I'll move onto the cast of the film. The obvious place to start is John Constantine himself, played by Keanu Reeves. Although I've not read any of the comics I have since read up on the character, and know a fair few things about him, like for-instance that in the comics he was from Liverpool, something that you wouldn't guess from Reeves' performance. Another distinguishing difference is that in the comics Constantine has blond hair, whereas Revees' has back. Besides these two things I felt that Reeve's did a good job of the character. I've always thought of Constantine as a bit miserable whilst reading him (I've read him in things like Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing), but that may very well be due to seeing this film. I was however very happy that Constantine was still a chain smoker, as that's one of the things I liked the most about the character, as it made him more rough, and gritty than he'd be otherwise. Basically although he isn't necessarily the best choice to play Constantine he did a good job.
The rest of the cast consists of many well known actors, with Rachel Weisz playing both Detective Angela Dodson, and her sister Isabel. These are characters that didn't appear in the comics so there's nothing to compare. I think she did a good job, but to be honest it wasn't much special. I liked Weisz in the Mummy films, but her performance in this film wasn't exceptional, and to be honest any actress with limited talent could have played the role. Shia LaBeouf played Chas Kramer (Chas Chandler in the comics), Constantine's driver, and student. I've not been a huge fan of LaBeouf's work over the years, and although I liked the first Transformers film, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (even though it wasn't as good as the other three Indiana Jones films) it wasn't for his performance. I have to say however that I didn't mind him in this film, although at the same time having not read the comics cant judge on comparison. Like Weisz, LaBeouf's character could have been played by anyone, although he did add some comic humour. I did however think that Tilda Swinton did a fantastic job of Gabriel, and Djimon Hounsou of Papa Midnite, although again I can't judge on comparisons.
Although the story was overall good, and enjoyable it did have some faults. The story itself had a good structure, but there were times were it felt a bit week, and slow. I did however like that the story took plenty of time to introduce the characters, mainly Constantine. At the same time, although I liked the story it was nothing special, and there are ton's of better action, horror, or even crime stories out there. The building up of certain scenes was however a very nice thing, and done very well.
The CGI in this film was amazing, and it really made the film look awesome. I've seen plenty of horror movies in the past, with a good few of them having Hell as a setting, but none of them were as good as this visual wise. Hell just looks phenomenal, and I loved how it looked like a burned out version of our world. I also really liked the demons in the film, and loved that whilst possessing a person that they could be seen in their true form in a mirror. The way that Constantine, and Dodson crossed over into hell was also very interesting, and although I know nothing about how Constantine got to hell in the comics (if he did) I really liked it in the film.
Constantine has many weapons during this film, with my personal favourites being the Holy Shotgun, and Cross Knuckleduster. Now I don't think that Constantine had an array of weapons in the comics (don't hold me to that as I only know what I've read on the internet), and defiantly didn't have a Holy Shotgun, but in a film you need to add something to make it unique. I especially liked the Shotgun, and Knuckleduster, as it made for some really nice scenes, and I also loved that the Shotgun was loaded with gold bullets, with what I believe was holy water (may be wrong with that last part). I really liked the weapons, and even the lesser used weapons like the Dragons Breath was also very nice.
I didn't speak about Peter Stormare as Lucifer (First of the Fallen) during the cast section of this review, as I wanted to leave him till the end, seems he only appeared at the end. I have loved Stormare's acting throughout ton's of great TV series, and films, including How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Armageddon, and Prison Break. He's one of the best actors at playing a bad guy, and I think he nailed the role of Lucifer. Although we've had some great actors playing the same, or similar roles in the past, including people like Al Pacino as Satan (also known as Lucifer) in The Devils Advocate (also staring Keanu Reeves), Peter Fonda as Mephisto in Ghost Rider, I don't think they were as good in there roles as Stormare's was in this. Don't get me wrong, they were brilliant, but where I think Stormare excels more than them is that he manages to get this dark sinister character across in a much more subtle way, having just as much affect as Pacino or Fonda in the movies I mentioned. Stormare's also showed how smart Lucifer is, whilst showing that he could still be naive. It was also nice to see him in a white suit, which is what you'd expect from a messenger of God instead of Lucifer.
Although not necessarily the best comic book adaptation this was a brilliant film, and very enjoyable. For an action/horror film it was spot on, and I personally loved it, but it may not appeal to hardcore fans of the comics. I'd still however recommend this to anyone whether fan or not, as it is a good film, and if the hardcore fans forgot that it had any connection to the comic then they'd probably enjoy it as well.