Comic book films have become a staple in yearly cinema now, thanks to Marvel’s incredible cinematic universe and their dedication to crafting such a large franchise. People love it, each time there are heroes or characters to look up to and fall in love with simply because they represent the good in the world is important. However, long before comic book films were considered such a huge thing within cinema, Constantine pushed the boundaries of what comic book stories had in store for us.
Though it must be said, these film adaptations would have to be done by people who were passionate about the stories. In the case of Francis Lawrence’s debut film Constantine, he knew, loved, and respected the source material and crafted a film that I can say with certainty, is pure cinema.
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The Movie Review
Constantine follows the story of an occult detective named John Constantine, who in the original stories is much cockier than in the film. However, this more reserved Constantine has a penchant for finding himself in trouble with demonic entities. When he’s approached by Detective Angela, who requires his assistance in investigating the death of her twin sister, Constantine hesitatingly agrees. As careful as he can be, he’s a magnet for trouble as his investigation leads him to a dark conspiracy that threatens the balance of the entire human world.
Francis Lawrence is a great director, as can be seen from his filmography containing some iconic films such as The Hunger Games franchise, I Am Legend, and Red Sparrow. However, for the most part, Constantine is paced very blandly. It jumps from scene to scene, in a much slower way than you’d expect from an action film and develops until it blows out into its explosive climax. I cannot state this enough; if you’re watching Constantine then please be patient because the finale of this film is worth the whole wait.
Keanu Reeves plays the titular protagonist, with a certain charm to him. Keanu is most famously known for playing characters that are quieter, not cocky, and just normal people put into desperate situations. Constantine is anything but those things, he’s brash, cocky, and highly insensitive to everyone.
I’ll just say it, Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of Constantine is by far the best interpretation of him aside from DC’s Animated Universe. He just fits the role so perfectly in live action, especially because of how different he is from the source material Constantine.
The film also has a banging soundtrack, it will keep you engaged throughout the film and make sure you’re thrilled and excited for every single fight sequence or revelation that comes to happen. The cinematography is one aspect where Constantine fails miserably though, which is what takes away from the experience a whole lot. The film looks like it is shot inside of the Matrix, but there are no fantastical elements to it. It does have a ton of great usage of CGI though, and while it doesn’t use it as much as it should have, there are still a ton of sequences that highlight it in a great way.
The Bottom Line
I can’t go on and say that Constantine is a great film by any means, in fact, it’s actually a very average film overall. However, the one thing that Constantine does differently from most conventional comic book films is being uniquely mature. It’s a film that isn’t created for children to watch, and for good reason too. It’s a fun film, but it’s full of moments that tackle subjects of mortality, death, and the existence of good and evil. It’s a challenging film that stands out amongst the crowd for an ending that will shake you to your core.