Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The comic book character, John Constantine, originally made an appearance in DC Comics’ Swamp Thing. In 1988, he began starring in his own series entitled Hellblazer, which ran for 300 issues between 1988 and 2010, and he can currently be found in the DC Universe Publication Constantine. This film, starring Keanu Reeves as the title character, is just one of the many works that have spun off from that original series. Fans of the comic book series generally complain that this movie doesn’t have the bite of the comic book. Fans of the sci-fi/horror genre, however, seem to like the film just fine. So, who’s right? Let’s take the scientific approach and let the nanobots settle the Constantine dispute once and for all.
  • We open on some box text about this movie’s Tchotchke of Importance-The Spear of Destiny. It has been missing since World War II, by the way, in case you need a reminder that Nazis were evil. We don’t. = -4pts 
  • As two scavengers are poking around in the sand in a religious ruin in Mexico, Manuel hits the motherlode and discovers The Spear of Destiny wrapped up in a Nazi flag. Unseen forces take control of Manuel and walk him right in front of a moving car. Whoopsie. = +2pts. 
  • The car, however, is completely destroyed and Manuel keeps right on going ‘cause Manuel’s got shit to do. = +4pts. 
  • John Constantine arrives at an L.A. tenement to perform an exorcism on a girl. This movie doesn’t go in for that “maybe they’re possessed, maybe it’s a mental condition” shit. This girl is fucking possessed. = +8pts. 
  • Constantine’s apprentice is Shia LaBeouf. Please take a moment to watch this very important PSA about Shia. It may save your life one day. = +7pts.
  • Constantine lives above a bowling alley. Even so, his apartment isn’t as sad as that statement implies. = +2pts 
  • OK, it’s mostly that sad.= -1pt 
  • Constantine smokes in a manner that Don Draper would consider a cry for help. = -7pts. 
  • Angela, the movie’s female lead, discovers that her twin sister, Isabel, has committed suicide while she was committed to the psychiatric ward of Ravenscar Hospital. Meanwhile, in Ravenscar’s Oncology Dept., Constantine is told that he is dying. We’ve gotten better news at BurnedGrandpaBabyCancer Hospital. = -5pts 
  • Manuel continues his pilgrimage on foot. Hey, it ain’t The Kite of Destiny. = +9pts 
  • Gotta admit, we were not expecting Tilda Swinton to be in this movie. = +11pts. 
  • When the Catholic Church denies Isabel Catholic funeral rites due to her suicide even though she was a mental patient, we realize that the writers of this film have created fictional Catholics even more strict than the real ones. = +2pts 
  • On the Grumpy Scale, where 1 is how your Grandpa feels about taking his pills and 10 is how Batman feels about the guys who killed his parents, Constantine comes in at about a 9. = +7pts. 
  • Papa Midnite – the pimp daddy of morally neutral, Voodoo Witchdoctor, supernatural nightclub owners. = +13pts. 
  • One of the more interesting features of Constantine’s bowling alley apartment is the wall lined with 5 gallon water bottles filled with holy water. He must have a connection with a supernatural Culligan Man. = +2pts. 
  • When Angela first experiences real “I saw it with my own eyes” proof that Demons exist, she vomits. Pretty sure we would have the same reaction. = +6pts. 
  • Angela is 100% positive that Isabel wouldn’t commit suicide yet can’t prove it. Constantine’s answer to the problem? “Let’s see if she’s in Hell.” You gotta love a can-do type of guy! = +4pts. 
  • Constantine enlists the help of Isabel’s cat to assist him in his journey to Hell. The cat makes it through the ritual completely unharmed because not even John Constantine is a big enough dick to use an animal sacrifice. = +3pts. 
  • Finally, Constantine is putting some food in his smoke-hole. = +9pts 
  • Constantine’s friends consist of Father Hennessy, an alcoholic Irish Priest and Beeman, lover of insects. And the award for Most Obvious Character Names in All of Cinema goes to… = -4pts. 
  • Beeman has a serious collection of weapons of holy smiting in his workshop, which is located in the same bowling alley that Constantine lives in. One wonders where the owner of this bowling alley was advertising for tenants--Supernatural Weirdo Weekly? = -3pts. 
  • Turns out Beeman is also the bestower of Arcane Knowledge of Plot Development. He lays out that the goal of the evil-doers is to bring forth Mammon, the son of Lucifer, onto Earth as Mammon makes a power play over his father, kind-of like Game of Thrones’ Tyrion and Tywin, only less evil. = +6pts. 
  • Keanu’s detached acting style really pays off here. John Constantine – zero fucks given. = +18pts. 
  • When John Constantine gives you a protection amulet and calls it, “your bullet-proof vest,” maybe you make sure you don’t leave it in the car. Just sayin’= -9pts 
  • Balthazar, a half-breed demon, is played by Gavin Rossdale, the lead singer for Bush. If you feel that you have heard that “Glycerine” song one too many times in your lifetime, Constantine’s got you covered. = +17pts.
  • Remember The Spear of Destiny? It’s back in play! = -2pts. 
  • In order to find The Spear, Constantine and Midnite perform some freaky mojo with the electric chair that used to be at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. This gives them a psychic-eye montage of Manuel’s journey to the Promised Land, which is kind-of like American Tale II: Lord of the Dead. = +10pts. 
  • Manuel’s journey ends at good ol’ Ravenscar Hospital, which is now overrun with half-breed demons. Agents of Evil = worst coyotajes, ever. = +6pts. 
  • Remember Chas? He’s back in play! = -5pts. 
  • When Angela is attacked by Manuel at Ravenscar, she shoots him with the gold-standard of action movie weapons: The Handgun of Infinite Ammo. = -3pts. 
  • Putting an ancient holy relic in the water tank of the hospital and setting off the sprinkler system is a fairly ingenious, and effective, Holy Water delivery system. This was Chas’ idea. We warned you about him. = +12pts. 
  • …although, the water tank has the “Flammable” symbol on it. Seriously, what kind of hospital is this? = -7pts. 
  • Introducing Constantine’s arsenal of weapons:

    Meet The Brass Knuckles of Jesus...
    The Shotgun of Holy Fuck You...
    And the Tattoos of Divine Kickass!
  • We finally meet Mammon who is so ugly, we can only assume that Lucifer has a thing for Uruk-Hai. = -4pts. 
  • Constantine’s plea to God for assistance in saving mankind from total annihilation at the hands of Mammon goes unanswered. That’s such a God move. = -14pts. 
  • Looks like a double-cross deal with The Devil himself is what it’s going to take to win the day. All-in-all, it’s hard to complain when you get to flip off Satan. = +17pts.
Total Score = +107pts.
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and in the new series Fridays this Fall on NBC!

As supernatural anti-heroes go, Constantine is actually a fairly relatable character, which is probably why he has been so popular for so long. He’s a guy who feels he is trapped in between forces he can’t control and is beholden to a set of rules that only he is following. This movie does a fairly good job at telling us who Constantine is and how he manages to persevere even when the deck is stacked against him. With a two hour running time, this movie gets a little theologically thick at times, but at least it tries to do a little more than the typical action movie. Now, we’ll just have to see if Constantine will do as well when he makes his TV debut next month.

Score Technician: Stacey Hanlon

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