Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I watched Constantine last night to satisfy my curiosity after skimming through a couple of Hellblazer issues and also after getting some good reviews from friends and acquaintances who've already watched it. The story of the movie was loosely based on the series' Dangerous Habits storyline where the main character, John Constantine, is dying of lung cancer and the Devil just couldn't wait to get his hands (claws?) on him. The story starts ominously enough with the discovery of the "Spear of Destiny" (the spear used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus) in Mexico by a scavenger. He runs away to the desert towards the direction of Los Angeles. Cut to a grimy and decrepit apartment building where an Asian housewife is being haunted by the image of her demon possessed daughter crawling the walls and snarling viciously at her. Constantine (Keanu Reeves) enters and promptly exorcises the demon solider out of her. But the whole exercise leaves him troubled and asking a lot of questions because according to known rules in order to maintain balance between heaven and hell angels and demons cannot directly interfere with the world of man. Somewhere someone is tipping the scales. Meanwhile, Police Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) grieves and grasps for answers while investigating a suicide of her twin sister, Isabel (Weisz). Their paths cross in the course of their search for the answers but it would be some time later before the detective finally turns to Constantine for answers. Constantine shoos her away at first in between smokes but changed his mind right after seeing a whole army of winged demons coming after her. After defeating the army of demons he now tries to make her understand what's going on by giving her a crash course on theology, the occult and giving her an evidence from the other side to show her that her twin sister indeed is in hell. Constantine's two contacts were eliminated soon after prompting him to go ballistic the on the demon he knows murdered his friends, Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale). Angela soon goes flying out the building soon after that prompting Constantine to force voodoo priest Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounsou) to help him find out what's going on. From there he races to the one place where a confrontation between good and evil will take place if he is to postpone the coming of the Anti-Christ.

That last part rubbed me the wrong way among other reasons. It's something like the End of Days all over again where man races against time and the forces of Hell to prevent the birth of the Anti-Christ. I didn't like that movie, not one bit. I'm talking about the story and how everything turns out. To be fair, production wise, Constantine has more things to offer. Their vision of hell is something to behold and thankfully they didn't over saturate the whole movie with spiritual beings which could have brought the movie further down. While they did touch the subject of theology and got some things right on the mark, the fact that the misses far outnumber the hits should be a cause for concern. I've taken down some notes right after the movie so's not to miss out on what they were:

1. A voodoo high priest mediating the balance between heaven and hell? - What's up with that?
2. Angel Gabriel as a free agent (heralded the birth of the Christ, now heralds the birth of the anti-Christ?) - so the angel gets jealous of the easy way out God has provided man with salvation and the fact that man was created higher than the angels. This last part is totally false. And besides, for a mighty angel that gets to dwell in the presence of the Lord what's he jealous about? Shouldn't fallen angels be the jealous ones since they are denied any means of salvation?
3. Gabriel confronting the devil recklessly - even the archangel Michael wouldn't dare to be as bold or careless.

The other things I put on my list but after much thinking decided to drop them from the list and discuss it personally with those who are interested. I do have a lot of questions though like how come the angels they've shown have black wings? This caused some confusion on my part when I first saw the trailers, thinking that it was either the devil or some demon spreading his wings in front of the fireplace before a showdown with Constantine. Creative license? Weird. Oh yeah, that was a family of Filipino immigrants Constantine dealt with at the opening of the film. You could catch the possessed girl screaming, "Papatayin natin sila!"

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this movie.

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