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Constantine

DVD Three Stars

Constantine was quite a surprise for me, the excellent Rachel Weisz paired with the usually monotonous Keanu Reeves in a comic book adaptation, what does that spell to you? Not much to me with Weisz being the only enticing aspect for me, I'd never even read about the character before hearing of this film, and on release I was just turned off to it.

Then I got it out on DVD for some light entertainment and that gave me a big surprise. The film is good, the adaptation turns out to be one of the stronger ones, and I was taken in by the story. I think the fact that I had dismissed this film before watching it I think helped me enjoy it even more as I came to it with no preconceptions or beliefs.

Movie

The story is a strong one with a well thought out and intriguing plot, seriously, it was surprisingly good. The representation of the world of Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, is quite a fascinating and accessible one. Looking much less at the idea of a balance and more at a constant war with a long running equilibrium constantly balancing on an edge.

It's this representation of angels and demons that leads us to one of the best characters and casting in the film, the angel Gabriel as played by Tilda Swinton. She is just superb in this role, dripping in self-delusion and righteous belief, you could almost mistake her for a real fundamentalist, and the way she is brought to the screen as the angel is wonderful. The moments when those wings appear and her aloof and powerful manner takes to the screen make you want this character never to walk off camera.

Reeves doesn't do much else than any of his other roles to be quite honest, but this role suits him perfectly and demands that very type of performance. If you look closely at some scenes though he does show a bit more human connection and emotion that has been missing in many performances before.

Weisz is, of course, superb. I think she's such a natural and believable actress, and it's apparent throughout the film. I'm honestly not biased because she's gorgeous...really. She delivers a range of emotion that shows she was destined for good things in more serious films.

One other notable piece of casting deserves a mention, and that's Peter Stormare as Satan himself. He's, and I only now pick this word as it just seems so apt, delicious in as the devil. His performance and look gives us a totally different ultimate evil to any portrayed before and was another character that I didn't want to leave the scene.

Throughout the film the effects are really well done, from the falls into the hospital hydrotherapy pool to the visualisations of hell and demons, and that incredible opening scene that really gets you into the film. The cinematography is good, something that you don't always expect in a comic adaptation, and it's these aspects that make it such a leader on the comic adaptation genre. Serious attention and care has been paid to the script, the effects, cinematography and the characters themselves that it becomes a much more rounded film.

Picture

Presented: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Colours are used well and appear bold when needed, and washed out in other scenes. Black levels are well represented with night scenes coming through as night time, not washed out grey. These two aspects coupled together give for some well filmed scenes, the hospital pool area looks sterile and cold, and hell looks blisteringly hot.

Audio

Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
The range of the speakers is used well here with effects moving around you and some background sounds appearing from the rear speakers. There's nothing too strong though and it doesn't take over from the scene itself.

Extras

Presented: Audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence and Akiva Goldsman, Frank Cappello & Kevin Brodbin; 'Passive' music video from A Perfect Circle; Teaser, and Trailer.
This is perhaps one of the more enjoyable informative commentaries I've heard. There's plenty of joking and banter between the people involved, and there's a lot of information to be had on the filming and in particular on the script and various revisions it went through. Hearing how the character develped in other versions and what scenes were taken out and reworked makes for an interesting second viewing. I even stopped ironing to listen!

Overall

It's no masterpiece, but as comic adaptations go this one ranks highly and provided for a good evenings entertainment. I was surprised at how much I was taken into the story and the well conceived characters, and it leaves me in no doubt that Constantine deserves another outing.

The single disc version that I've reviewed was weak on extras, and that's why it gains a three, but the commentary it sported was one of the better ones I've heard. Definitely worth a rental and even stands up well to a second viewing. The two disc version might score a four from me.


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IMDB UK movie details





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Comments

I love this film! I saw it twice in the theatre..and I was completey taken by Keanu's performance as Constantine. I love the story - it's so interesting that I didn't know time was flowing. I love the chacters too, especially that of Constantine, who is sort of dwelling upon his conscience - and Keanu did great in showing Constantine's inner conflicts.

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