This review is of the edited TV-14 version. All thoughts below should be read as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative.
Well well, it’s time to look at a horror film that also happens to be a comic book film. I’m not sure about this combo and it certainly didn’t work out this time. Constantine ends up being a very weak title which contradicts its own message and spends a lot of time wondering just where the plot went. One thing’s for sure, this isn’t the sleeper hit of 2005 and it even makes the recent Ghost Rider film look good.
The film’s about a guy named Constantine who exorcises demons. He wants to be allowed into Heaven since he has done a good job of keeping the demons away, but the angel Gabriel reminds him that one cannot enter into Heaven on good works alone. Constantine shows his contempt for this by slamming a Bible on the ground, insulting and berating a lady who is trying to save her sister, and then torturing a spider that he found in his house. Yeah….I wonder why they aren’t letting this guy into Heaven….It’s impossible to root for Constantine from this point on, but one thing leads to another and he’s the only guy standing in the way of a mad quest for power with human lives in the balance. Looks like it’s time to fight again!
It’s hard to know where to start on how bad this film is. We may as well get the ball rolling with Constantine since I’ve already started taking shots at him. He’s just a horrendous main character. Constantine doesn’t seem to even pretend to follow the Bible’s teachings. He spends the entire film being mean to just about everyone and his opening scene where we’re supposed to be impressed with how he handles the exorcist just makes him look bad. He’s not even that good at his job and barely manages to scratch out wins. Constantine loves smoking as well and even after he gets lung cancer, he decides to keep on smoking anyway. Once he gets a sidekick, Constantine tries to be a little more heroic when he’s not pulling guns at demons at a bar where there’s a truce, but it’s too little too late. I’ll never forget the spider incident. Sure, he had a bad day, but taking it out on another living creature is way past crossing the line.
There’s also this subplot in the desert where a guy finds a spear which mind controls him and forces the guy to come over to the city. Not only does this plot go nowhere until the very end of the film, but it is immensely boring and just slows the film’s pacing down even more. The film never really gets good or exciting so it may not matter all that much while you’re watching, but it doesn’t help matters.
The film can also be pretty violent at times and also just grotesque with the various demons running around. Supernatural films like this one love going for those crazy visuals. There were some good ones here like when Constantine went into hell. I liked how the place looked and the film had potential with some of the fight scenes and other special effects. It was one of the few positives that this title had to offer.
Back to the negatives, the film decides to make God (Yes, the film actually decided to go with the real God in this film. Big mistake considering that they decided to make him look terrible) look incredibly unintelligent and he spends the entire film getting tricked by everyone around him. Part of the premise in this film is that God and the Devil are having a chess game with humans being the pawns in it. Neither one of them can affect the humans directly, but they can tempt them. The Devil tempts them to do wrong things with his demon hybrids while God has the half angels. Full fledged Demons and Angels are forbidden from interfering. Aside from the moral ambiguity of this game, you’d think that God would ensure that the match is fair right? Nope, he doesn’t realize it, but the Devil has rigged the match from the start.
He’s not even subtle as he just summons a bunch of Demons to Earth and directly attacks people. His allies even go to bars and start indiscriminately murdering people. They also murder one of Constantine’s allies and an angel can do nothing but watch since he’s heavily outnumbered. Of course, the fact that the angel was watching and doing nothing the entire time is another negative. It gets even worse as one of the higher ranked Angels turns out to be crazy and evil. God appointed him as one of the 4 big Angels so you’d think that the interview process would have been more rigid. The Angel believes that he’s still a good guy and that genocide will help the human race turn to God before they die. He believes that suffering always has this effect, but you can see how crazy he is.
Also, the Devil is portrayed as incredibly strong and while God won’t set foot on Earth, he has no qualms about it. He shows up and wrecks everybody. The final straw is the fact that he can mess with Heaven as well. So, remember the part where Constantine can’t earn his way into Heaven with actions? Yeah…the film forgot about that. By being heroic and helping someone out, he was able to earn his way into Heaven, but the Devil can’t have that. He literally reaches up and just pulls Constantine back to Earth. Wow…..I can’t even….
So…yeah, this movie had a very warped idea of how Heaven and Hell works. It’s always nice to see a film actually bring Christianity to the forefront and tackle these concepts, but it was done so horrendously that it backfired completely. I don’t believe we even got any lines where the characters remind Constantine that he can only get into Heaven through Jesus Christ. It seemed to completely revolve around being a nice person instead, which is 100% false. No matter how many good deeds you do or how nice you are as a person, it will never be enough to get you into Heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. The whole point of faith in Christianity is that you know that you can’t make it to Heaven on your own. You need Jesus, but this film decides to go around that. Also, the concept of an Angel being evil is pretty terrible. Lucifer was an angel once and there are other Fallen Angels, but they are fallen. There aren’t any evil Angels still lurking or anything like that. That’s just Hollywood trying for an epic plot twist, but there isn’t any to be found in Heaven. I don’t think for one minute that any bad guy can trick God into letting him in.
As for the rest of the supporting characters, the main heroine was decent. Angela was certainly a big improvement over Constantine and she goes through a lot of trials in order to help her sister out. Her sister committed suicide, but Angela knows that she would never do such a thing and it finally helps her to believe in the supernatural. This brings another negative to light which I almost forgot about. All right, stay with me here since the film decides to use its crazy logic again.
So, a demon possessed Isabel and forced her to destroy herself. That wasn’t her own free will so she surely wouldn’t be penalized for it would she? Nope…she actually is. See, as part of the match, this falls into the whole “Satan influencing people” part so it’s actually a legitimate victory for him with Isabel now being doomed to Hell for eternity. Now you can see how this whole game is so rigged right? Luckily, Isabel ends up having a happy ending, but once again, the Devil was just portrayed as way too powerful here. Essentially, he was the one with power over Heaven and Hell in this version given how he can influence the game to such a degree.
So, Angela’s a good character. I also liked Chas, who’s the comic relief character of the film. He did a good job in the role and helped out as best he could. Things didn’t go too well for him, but he does get a big plot twist in the post credits scene…which may or may not be canon as I also read that it was an alternate ending. I’m pretty sure that it is canon though, but I don’t really care enough about the film to do any searching. If you see the film you can stick around past the credits and tell me if it’s there. None of the villains were particularly likable and the demons didn’t have great designs. The final fights were pretty decent, but Constantine was so far out of his league that it was scary. He’s a human with a gun….there’s only so much he can do against a very fast/powerful demon. Plot hax is really his only weapon at this point.
Overall, Constantine is pretty terrible to be honest. I’d stick far away from this film if I were you. The film defies its own logic and the logic is already super flawed and fake from the get go. You won’t learn anything from this film because there is nothing to learn and the actual movie isn’t well made anyway. Constantine is a very unlikable main character and even the edited version can’t save the film’s writing and the excessive violence that shows up at times. All of Constantine’s allies (One of which is a priest who likes to drink a lot. Gee….the film had to fit that in didn’t it?) are doomed to painful and unfortunate ends at the hands of the demons and since the heroes never had a shot from the beginning…what’s the point? If you want a better comic book film, I recommend Batman V Superman, the original theater version. That film has it all, hype, action, and an epic soundtrack!