21
Jul
09

Constantine & The Prophecy

constantine

I was excited to catch Constantine on TV a few days ago since I remembered it getting decent reviews when it originally came out and, contrary to how it may seem based on the movies I have reviewed on this blog so far, Horror and Cult movies are really my first love. Fair warning, I’ve never read the comic book for this one so I have no idea how much of the film was built around the source material and I realize some allowances must be made when a film is trying to do justice to a pre-existing work. I will say, from the Google imagesearch I did of the Hellblazer comics, the drawn Constantine looks a lot more like a noir-ified version of Kiefer Sutherland’s character from Lost Boys than a Matrixified Keanu Reeves and I’m sure the fans were less than thrilled with the casting here. Like many of the lead characters in the Vertigo pantheon, it seems like Constantine is intended to be more of a dark anti-hero with a troubled past, which doesn’t fit with what we see of his character in the film.

This movie was definitely overstuffed with plot and I feel like it lacked a lot of background exposition which could have made some of the plot progression less confusing. The audience does not have a clear sense of Constantine’s abilities/personality or the rules governing the world of the movie until fairly deep in. While some of the visuals were cool, I also thought the action in the film was too heavily emphasized over the horror aspects. Lastly, it was a touch disappointing to see Rachel Weisz’s character be little more than a pretty, useless tag-along for most of the film, despite supposedly being a tough, city detective. I think if her relationship with Constantine was more balanced out, more akin to an amped-up Scully/Mulder dynamic, it could have brought a lot more charm and interest to the movie. In general I think one of the biggest deficits in some recent action movies, Constantine included, is that they lack the sense of humor which has made other action films like Die Hard, so much more fun to watch. More of a tongue-in-cheek attitude works much better, especially if what you’re expecting the audience to follow and buy into is really over-the-top like in this movie.

In terms of the positives, I will say I was pleasantly surprised to see Tilda Swinton playing Gabriel, who of course steals all the scenes she’s in and I wished there had been more of her throughout the movie. Her level of acting ability and charisma in comparison to Keanu’s weak lead is kind of ridiculous. Even Pruitt Taylor Vince, who is a great character actor and plays a minor side role, has more life to him than Reeves. As an aside, Gavin Rossdale is also in the movie (making his acting debut here as one of the villains) which I found kind of bizarre and random. Anyway, overall the movie was pretty bad and made me have an intense craving to watch cult classic, The Prophecy again, which is a similar concept with a much stronger execution.

the prophecy

I always think of The Prophecy as being like Christopher Walken’s Silence of the Lambs. Even though he is the villain of the series, he really captivates you every time he’s onscreen with some great lines and a kind of jokey, crackling menace that is wonderful. There is actually a lot of good acting in the film though, with Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Hytner, and Adam Goldberg all doing a good job in their supporting roles and only the two leads coming off a little wooden.

In contrast to Constantine, there are some genuinely tense parts in The Prophecy, in addition to some dynamite action sequences and the script is well-written enough to keep you engaged. The movie offers enough background about the characters and the main conflict for you to basically understand what’s going on, without giving away the plot twists that keep the movie hurtling forward. There are also a lot of nice, unexpected details to the script, such as how Gabriel stalls begrudging, unfortunate souls from crossing over so they can operate as his servants to great comedic effect. And there is interesting playfulness with Christian mythology in the kernel of the story, which raises the idea that angels might be jealous of humans for their souls and for being God’s best loved creation. It’s definitely a cult movie worth picking up at your local video store if you’re in the mood for a horror/action movie with some off-beat touches or just for Christopher Walken being awesome.

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2 Responses to “Constantine & The Prophecy”


  1. 1 Kim
    July 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I think Rachel Weisz was the only good thing about “Constantine”. I thought her performance was just better than the entire film.

  2. 2 vickyvengeance
    July 22, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I wasn’t complaining about her performance as much as the fact that I thought she should have had a meatier part to work with instead of just the formula damsel-in-distress.


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