Constantine is a 2005 American action horror film directed by Francis Lawrence as his directorial debut, starring Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, with Rachel Weisz,Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, and Djimon Hounsou. The film is based on Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer comic book, with plot elements taken from the “Dangerous Habits” story arc (issues #41-46) and the “Original Sins” trade paperback.
The film, which was met by film critics with mixed reactions, portrays John Constantine as a cynic with the ability to perceive and communicate with half-angles and half-demons in their true form. He seeks salvation from eternal damnation in Hell for a Suicide.attempt in his youth.
Constantine exorcises demons back to Hell in a bid to earn favor with Heaven but has become weary over time. With death looming, he helps a troubled police detective learn the truth about her sister’s death while simultaneously unraveling a much larger and darker plot.
Constantine was released in Hong Kong on March 8, 2005, and in the United States and Canada on March 18, 2005.
After a case involving a full-fledged demon trying to break onto the “Human Plane,” Constantine (Keanu Reeves) seeks an audience with the androgynous half-breed angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton). Gabriel advises that because he performs the exorcisms for his own benefit, they are vain acts that will not spare him from Hell. After his meeting with Gabriel, Constantine is attacked by a full-fledged demon. After a meeting with a former witch doctor known as Papa Midnite (Djimon Honsou) fails to produce answers, Constantine begins investigating the situation with his associates Beeman (Max Baker), Hennessy (Pruitt Taylor Vince), and Chas Kramer (Shia LaBeouf). L.A.P.D Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) shows up at Constantine’s condo seeking consultation regarding her investigation of the death of her twin sister Isabel, who leapt from the roof of a mental hospital. Constantine tells Angela that God and Lucifer are engaged in a Proxy war; a standing wager for the souls of all mankind. Neither true angels nor demons can manifest on Earth, but they are allowed to possess and influence humans.
Through Hennessy and Beeman’s findings, Constantine learns that Mammon, Lucifer’s son, seeks to create his own kingdom on Earth by breaking through onto the human plane. To do so, Mammon requires a powerful psychic, Isabel, who was provided by the half-demon Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale). After reporting the information, Hennessy and Beeman are found dead and Constantine concludes that Balthazar was responsible. Angela reveals that she possessed the same gift as her sister but denied it to the point that it became inactive. Constantine reawakens Angela’s psychic ability through a near death experience, then hunts down and interrogates Balthazar who reveals that Mammon has obtained the Spear of destiny, which has the blood of Jesus Christ encrusted on it. Angela is abducted by an unseen force and taken to Isabel’s hospital to be used as the portal for Mammon’s entrance to Earth. Constantine storms Midnite’s club and Midnite allows him to use “The Chair”, an old electric chair from Sing Sing Prison that had killed over 200 inmates, and it shows Constantine a vision that the Spear was discovered in Mexico and has been brought to Los Angles. Constantine and Chas head to the hospital and interrupt the ritual, but Chas is beaten to death by an unseen force in the process.
Using incantations and sigils tattooed on his arms, Constantine reveals the force to be Gabriel but the angel promptly subdues Constantine. Gabriel laments God’s favoritism towards humans and believes that bringing Hell to Earth will enable those who survive to become truly worthy of God’s love through repentance and faith. Gabriel then throws Constantine from the room and begins to release Mammon. As Gabriel moves to stab Angela with the Spear and release Mammon, Constantine slits his wrists. Time stops as Lucifer (Peter Stormare) arrives to personally collect his soul. Constantine tells Lucifer about Mammon’s plan and Lucifer sends Mammon back to Hell to keep Mammon from conquering Earth before him. When Gabriel attempts to smite Lucifer, the angel’s wings are burned away and Gabriel becomes human. In return for helping Lucifer, Constantine is owed a favor and asks that Isabel be allowed to go to Heaven. Lucifer obliges and begins to drag Constantine to Hell, but his self sacrifice has redeemed him and he begins to rise into Heaven. Infuriated and wishing to reacquire Constantine’s soul, Lucifer heals his wounds and cures him of his lung cancer so that he may live again. Constantine departs with the Spear after refusing the temptation to kill Gabriel, and gives the Spear to Angela instructing her to hide it. In the closing scene instead of smoking a cigarette, like in the past, he starts to chew on some nicotine gum. In a post credit scene Constantine visits Chas’ grave and watches as he rises into Heaven as an angel.
- Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a chain-smoking cynical individual with the ability to perceive the true visage of half-angels and half-demons on the human plane. Constantine is damned to Hell for committing suicide — a mortal sin — and has terminal lung cancer.
- Rachel Weisz as Detective Angela Dodson & Isabel Dodson:
- As Angela Dodson, a troubled Los Angeles Police Department Detective investigating what she believes to be the murder of her twin sister, Isabel.
- As Isabel Dodson, a powerful psychic and involuntarily committed mental patient with the ability to see half-demons and half-angels. She is damned to Hell for committing suicide.
- Shia LaBeouf as Chas Kramer, John Constantine’s driver and student. Kramer has a strong interest in the occult and helps Constantine whenever possible in order to gain knowledge and experience from him.
- Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, an androgynous, half-breed angel with a disdain for humanity.
- Pruitt Taylor Vince as Father Hennessy, an insomniac, alcoholic priest with the ability to communicate with the dead. He constantly drinks in order to “keep the voices out”.
- Djimon Hounsou as Papa Midnite, a former witch-doctor who once fought against Hell. After swearing an oath of neutrality – unless one side should tip the balance of power – he opened a nightclub to serve as neutral meeting ground for both sides of the war between Heaven and Hell.
- Gavin Rossdale as Balthazar, a half-breed demon with a special penchant for, and personal history with Constantine.
- Peter Stormare as Lucifer, a fallen angel who is in a proxy war with God for the souls of all mankind. Lucifer loathes Constantine with such vigor that Constantine’s is the only soul which he would ever come up to the Earth plane from Hell to personally collect.
- Max Baker as Beeman, a friend of Constantine’s with a liking for exotic materials and insects. He serves as both a supplier of holy objects and relayer of information to Constantine.
Other differences to the character were made, such as giving him the psychic ability to see “half-breeds” as they truly are. That ability, in the film, is what caused him to attempt suicide and which led to his damnation rather than his role in summoning a demon that killed a young girl. The resolution of the lung cancer plotline in the film was also amended, with Lucifer saving the redeemed Constantine to give him a second chance at falling rather than being tricked into doing so as was seen in the comic book. Scenes with actress Michelle Monaghan as Constantine’s lover, a half-breed demon named Ellie, based on the succubus Ellie in the Hellblazer comics, were cut from the movie to make Constantine more of a lonely character.Constantine was written using some elements from Garth Ennis’ “Dangerous Habits” story arc (issues #41–46) and others—such as the inclusion of Papa Midnite—from the Original Sins trade paperback. However, the film changed several aspects of the source material, including a number of cosmetic changes to the lead character’s appearance: Reeves played the role with his natural accent and hair colour whilst the original character was intentionally drawn to resemble English musician Sting and originally came from Liverpool.The film was also set in Los Angeles, with the director pointing out that the comic book was not exclusively set in London either.
The film’s title was changed from Hellblazer to Constantine to avoid confusion with the Clive Barker Hellraiser films. The comics series itself was originally to be titled Hellraiser but was also retitled to avoid confusion with the film, released the previous year.
Director Francis Lawrence decided to base the idea of Hell “on the geography of what’s around us now.” He further explained:
That was actually a combination of me and the visual effects supervisor and the production designer sitting down and sort of coming up with the biological growth that’s growing all over the cars and what that looks like and the color palette. And we started to look at the nuclear test films from the 1940s of the nuclear blasts and just decided that it would be great if the landscape was not only violent with these creatures, but also the atmosphere. So we decided that it was kind of an eternal nuclear blast except nothing ever really gets obliterated because it’s eternal and it’s constantly going.
The novelization further ascribes Hell’s setting in that the buildings are lined with blood instead of mortar and built with the souls of the damned rather than brick.
|Constantine: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Brian Tyler andKlaus Badelt|
|Released||February 15, 2005|
Constantine: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a 2005 soundtrack album from the film of the same name. The soundtrack is a orchestral compilation of songs in the film, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony and composed by Brian Tyler, composer for films such as Eagle Eye andFast & Furious, and Klaus Badelt, composer for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film series.
The songs “Passive” by A Perfect Circle (released in conjunction with the film and heard in the walk through Midnite’s bar) and “Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet (heard on a record played by Constantine) were not included. The soundtrack was panned by Allmusic, who referred to it as “clichéd and religiously formulaic.”
|2.||“The Cross Over”||2:42|
|3.||“Meet John Constantine”||2:39|
|5.||“Deo et Patri”||1:16|
|7.||“Into the Light”||2:54|
|8.||“I Left Her Alone”||1:40|
|10.||“Circle of Hell”||5:38|
|12.||“Encountering a Twin”||1:06|
|13.||“Flight to Ravenscar”||0:52|
|16.||“Someone Was Here”||1:44|
|24.||“Constantine End Titles”||2:39|
||This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2011)|
Constantine was a financial success, grossing $230,884,728 in worldwide gross sales. To tie into the films release, a novelization by John Shirley and a video game adaption of the film was also produced. Warner Home Video announced that the film was to be released on HD DVD on March 28, 2006.[dead link] It would be one of the earliest titles to be released on that media format. However, following delays to the launch of the HD DVD format (which pushed back the release of many of the initially announced titles), Constantine eventually made its debut on HD DVD on June 6, 2006. Warner Home Video released a Blu-ray Disc version of the film on October 14, 2008.
Constantine was met by critics with mixed reviews. At the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a normalized rating of 46% based on the reviews of 214 critics with an average rating of 5.5/10. At Metacritic, an aggregation site which assigns a weighted average, the film holds a rating of 50 out of 100 based on the reviews of 41 critics.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine praised the film calling it “a one-of-a-kind hybrid: a theological noir action film”. In crediting the actors, he specifically cited Keanu Reeves’ ability to “retain his charisma in [a] weird-silly moment” in addition to the performances of Tilda Swinton whom he referred to as “immaculately decadent”, Rachel Weisz, and Peter Stormare. He also praised Francis Lawrence’s usage of a significant number of camera locations and angles. He was, however, critical of the movie’s climax, referring to it as “irrevocably goofy”.
Ella Taylor of L.A. Weekly gave the film positive feedback, as did Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times who each respectively stated, “Constantine, which opts in the end for what I can only describe as a kind of supernatural humanism, is not without its spiritual satisfactions.” and, “Keanu Reeves has no peer when it comes to playing these sort of messianic roles—he infuses them with a Zen blankness and serenity that somehow gets him through even the unlikeliest scenes with a quiet, unassuming dignity.”
Pete Vonder Haar of Film Threat gave the film 3 stars out of 5, stating that “the film (barely) succeeds, thanks to impressive visuals, the idea of an uncaring God wagering with Satan for souls, and two immensely enjoyable scenes (one with Weisz, one with Stormare) in which Reeves actually plays his character as the cynical asshole he really is.” He further lamented Keanu Reeves’ acting by stating that the film hinged upon Reeves’ ability to portray the character of John Constantine—and fails upon his inability to pull it off. He compared his performance to being in a “dazed countenance”. “John Constantine is supposedly a world-weary cynic, unsentimental and aloof thanks to his years of demon busting, but Reeves seems incapable of projecting this. He manages well enough during the fight scenes, and had Constantine been more of a straight-up action picture, this would be sufficient. Horror seems out of his league, sadly.” He was highly in favor of the performances of Djimon Honsou and Peter Stormare, though he found them to be underutilized. Additionally, he applauded the work of Rachel Weisz in the film. He praised Francis Lawrence’s ability to set up a horror environment, citing the film’s environmental depictions—especially of Hell, its CGI work, and “creepy” atmosphere but took issue with numerable plot holes and inconsistencies depicted in the film.
Jack Matthews of the New York Daily News gave the film a 2.5 out of 5, stating, “For all its spiritual angst, Constantine is about as silly as fantasies get.”Michael Sragow of The Baltimore Sun also gave the film a 2.5 out of 5, stating, “It all comes off as a case of filmmakers wanting to have their communion wafer and eat it, too.”Desson Thomson, a writer for The Washington Post, had similar sentiments of the film, specifically panning the film’s distancing from the series of graphic novels upon which it is based:
If you are a fan of the “Hellblazer” comic book series, on which this movie is based, you’ll definitely need a distraction. The relation between Constantine and its source material is, at best, superfluous. The disparity starts with the original John Constantine (Reeves’s character) being from Liverpool, England. Reeves from the city of John and Paul? As if.
Leonard Maltin’s annual publication “TV Movies” gives the film a BOMB rating, describing it as “dreary, to say the least.”
Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, panning the depiction of hell (“a post-nuclear Los Angeles created by animators with a hangover”), the premise of the film itself, (“You would think that God would be the New England Patriots of this contest, but apparently there is a chance that Satan could win.”), plot holes, inconsistencies, and general actions depicted throughout the film. He was not particularly critical of the film’s acting, only mentioning it by stating, “Reeves has a deliberately morose energy level in the movie, as befits one who has seen hell, walks among half-demons, and is dying. He keeps on smoking.”
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