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Review - Constantine (DVD-2005)
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Constantine (DVD-2005)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski

The theological thriller, Constantine, enjoyed a decent international run when it was released theatrically. Now available on DVD, in both a single disc and double disc edition, the film makes its home video debut.

Based on the Hellblazer graphic novels, Constantine stars Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a spiritual warrior whose job it is to seek out half-breed demons that have violated the rules of balance between God and Satan which govern the worlds above and the worlds below. Constantine vanquishes the demonic entities back to hell from whence they came. So good is he at this task that Satan himself proclaims that Constantine is the one soul for which he is willing to come up from the depths and claim personally himself. But Constantine desperately hopes that his demon hunting will atone for his own past misdeeds and allow him entry into heaven when his time comes.

Such is the religious underpinning for the story—a world where both half-breed angels and half-breed demons can influence earthly affairs as long as they stay within the bounds of the rules—something they find difficult to do. But an even greater danger manifests when the spear of Longinus, better known as the Spear of Destiny—which pierced the side of Christ during his crucifixion, is discovered by the bad guys. The spear, because of its contact with Christ, has the power to rend the fabric separating the material and immaterial worlds at just such a time when Satan’s son would love to be born on earth and bring about the destruction of the world.

Filled with Catholic religious symbolism, detective work, soul searching, special effects and action sequences, Constantine is quite a mix.

The DVD contains 18 minutes of deleted scenes. Some of these scenes would have provided interesting background information; others would have needlessly tangled the plot. The deleted scenes can be watched with comments by the director, Francis Lawrence, who explains how he adapted certain ideas from cut scenes into other areas or parts of the film. Watching the scenes with the commentary will give the viewer real insight into the process of filmmaking. The two-disc edition of the film, which contains numerous extras, was not available for review.

What can we say about the film by way of recommendation? Splendid performances including a bravura turn by Tilda Swinton as an angel and Peter Stormare as Satan. Solid acting by Rachel Weiz and Shia LaBeouf and the others help elevate the sometimes problematic material. And Keanu Reeves, in his best post-Matrix manner, does what he does best, with that unique deadpan swagger of his. Striking cinematography by the gifted Phillipe Rousselot, a demon hangout called the “Midnight Club”, and some imaginative life and death situations will keep up your interest. Constantine works hard to be clever and the film honestly tries to be different. Whether or not it fully achieves its goals, it holds your attention and entertains and it looks terrific. It is certainly worth a peek.

2005 Dennis Kwiatkowski/ Celluloid Dreams

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