Friday, February 25, 2005


Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Wiesz
Category: Horror, Action

Spiderman and X-Men set the standard for comics to movie conversions. Before Spiderman and X-Men, a movie conversion meant death to the comic's storyline, characters and all that was sacred to comic readers. They were sacrificed by Hollywood execs who claim to know what sells a movie, what we want see. The comic license was just another face, another costume to wrap over a formula which sold 10 million tickets.
But they don't GET IT. If the comic is successful, surely somebody did something right. Is it too hard to focus on that and make that the same ingredient that will make the movie successful? People buy it, it is popular = a lot of people like it. That is what got their attention anyway. Why change or strip out the very thing that makes it popular? Spell C-O-U-N-T-E-R-I-N-T-U-I-T-I-V-E. Or do these people think that they can actually make it better? I agree that comics and movies are two different mediums. Make the adjustments for that but no more than that. We need to go no further than Punisher to see what went wrong. Twice.
Of course there will be comics that will be harder to be accepted by the mainstream. Get a clue. These comics fill a niche. These comics are different. These stories are probably comics because they are not mainstream. Well, not when they were first conceived. But as people change, these comics too, become closer to the mainstream.
Fortunately, I haven't read Hellblazer. So, I didn't come in with an expectation. But I came out of it realizing that whatever made the comic into what it is, that was there. Of course, the Hollywood touches were there. There was a gadget supplying guy (a Q, as in James Bond's) and the emotional puller (someone who dies in the end but spends the whole movie gaining your sympathies). But it had the right touches and didn't treat the viewer with kid gloves. I hate it when the pace pauses to explain things to the viewer (actually it does at times in this movie too). In Constantine, things just happen that you need to figure out yourself. It forced you to think while watching, which is not easy to do or to create either. Maybe the whole point is to get you in to the theater a second time.
A lot of people complain on-line about John Constantine, about how unlikeable he is, or how contradictory he was. There is a point to whole unlikeable-ness. He was mean. He was skeptic. He was condescending. Despite all this, he still wanted to go to heaven. Problem was, he is technically destined for hell. The problem with John was that unlike the rest of us, he knew how things work. Or at least the heaven and hell part of it. And like most people who know how the system works, he wants to exploit it. To use it for his own end. And what is that? To get into heaven. The whole 'buying your way into heaven' sub-plot.
Another thing is that I thought John being contradictory only made him more believable. As humans we can be contradictory. A lot of people question why isn't he pious because he has seen Hell. Ok, so he knows that he is going there. He need to not go to hell, that is go to heaven. So how do you get into heaven? Like everybody else? Not when all those half-breeds keep pointing out to him that he is going to hell regardless. That is when he realizes that what put him in that position is just a system. So the only way out he saw was to work that system. Find a loop hole somewhere. John sees piety has nothing to do with getting into heaven. Thus his vocation.
Another contradiction is the way John abuses himself like he doesn't care about himself but at the same time spends all his efforts in the chance of redemption. Wouldn't you want to live long enough to get the redemption, the ticket into heaven? Why is he cutting his own fuse? That is a contradiction worth thinking about. And I love movies that make me think.
The other actors were great. While I very much enjoyed their performances, the main beef I have with this movie is the main plot. The spear and what it is supposed to do. Totally unbelievable. Of course, there is probably a story of how the spear got to Mexico but at the beginning it was a chance that brought it back to light. To have such a coordinated plot be triggered by chance is just bad. What if it wasn't found?
All in all a good movie to watch. Enjoy the ride once but if you get to watch it again, put yourself in John's shoes. It may just be scarier than the movie itself.