Most helpful critical review
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
More clever and intellectually stimulating than exciting, but I guess that's not bad
on August 4, 2005
I missed "Constantine" in theaters and thus looked forward to discovering for the first time via home viewing a quality motion picture adaptation of a popular comic book character. And, in the end, I did enjoy the film. Just be warned that it isn't like the "Spider-Man" movies. Unlike those earlier films, "Constantine" is more interesting and intellectually stimulating than exciting.
In particular, I enjoyed the film's somewhat subversive vision that the goals and objectives emanating from Heaven and Hell are sometimes laced with the same base political motivations that are often the springboards for the official positions held by powerful organizations here on Earth. I liked how the bad guys could be charming and somewhat sympathetic despite their Hellish origins, and how the holy characters (I'm mostly thinking of Tilda Swinton's Angel Gabriel character here) can come up with questionable and truly bizarre plans to rid the Earth of evil, even if it means something close to apocalypse has to result in the meantime.
The film skillfully mixes several genres and flavors (horror movie, detective thriller, and romance story among them), which successfully results in an entertaining whole. It's just not a wildly entertaining whole, and you'll probably have more fun disecting the movie with a friend afterward over a beer than you did when you were watching it.
I bought the two-disc special edition, and the extras on the second disc are very well done. In fact, if you don't know much about the Constantine character beforehand it's perfectly safe to watch the first couple of featurettes on the second disc before you watch the movie; they discuss the comic book origins of the character and the goals the film makers had in adapting the character to the screen. These featurettes don't give away any major plot points and may make it easier to appreciate the film a little more when you watch it. As a John Constantine novice I wished that I had watched those extra features first; I would have gotten more out of my first viewing of the movie.
Still, I enjoyed "Constantine". After all, one has to have a soft spot for a movie that suggests that even death isn't an escape from the mundane bureaucracies of daily life, that one just trades dull rules and regulations administered by earthbound bureaucrats with mundane rules and regulations administered by angels and demons. That whole riff was pretty funny, actually.