TL: So, it would seem that Constantine enjoyed a bigger budget than Dog Soldiers, but I think it may have been ahead of its time in terms of Angel popularity. This kind of pseudo-religious apocalypse at the hands of an angel movie has been done a few times, most famously in The Prophecy and most recently in Legion. Constantine fits right in the middle time-wise, but was, in my opinion, the best of the three.
What did you think of the movie?
KW: I agree. Putting aside all bias toward werewolves, I have to admit this was a stellar movie.
One of the things I usually dislike about film adaptations of graphic novels is often the attempt to capture the look overrides other elements of the movie. The result is usually high art for the sake of high art, celebrities thrown into the mix making the the high production value fall flat for me.
Movies like Sin City, for example, wind up being nothing but a second-rate imitation (from which I frankly wanted to walk out of). Graphic novels have the ability to depict things that are unimaginable in real life and that can entail some horrific scenes. But, nobody wants to see the real Wile E. Coyote actually get smushed by the falling anvil. My measure of success for adaptations of graphic novels is balancing the art with the storyline and acting. Constantine was able to pull it off. And then some.
That said, there were a significant amount of changes from the original source, particularly the character of Constantine. What are your thoughts on filmmakers drastically altering or mixing content in the process of adapting novels for the big screen?
TL: That kind of thing doesn’t bother me that much. What works in a book doesn’t always work on-screen. The Da Vinci Code for example. They were too true. In Angels and Demons, they changed more and the movie benefited from those changes. It’s interesting to see what another mind does with the original story, what compromises they choose to make, what works and what doesn’t.
I haven’t read Constantine, so I can’t compare them, but I also appreciate the fact that the movie isn’t overdone. I found it very appealing visually but I also really enjoyed the story, the humour and the mythology. The final confrontation in this movie is fantastic – the motivations of each character and the role they play is so… cynical? Is that the word I am looking for?
KW: Agreed. The original source can’t be translated literally. I appreciate when a filmmaker can “interpret” the original source so it’s true without being literal. Keanu Reeves, though great to look at at, is not the finest actor but he did a good job. Overall, I enjoyed the acting. The cinematography and special effects were especially cool. As for cynical perspective of the characters: maybe. I think there had to be an aspect of hope to pull the protagonists out of the frightening prospects that lay ahead of them though. Don’t you think?
TL: Hope is there. But Constantine hopes that if he commits suicide (again), that he can save the girl. Lucifer hopes that if he saves Constantine’s life, that he will mess up again and go straight to Hell next time. Gabriel hopes that Hell on Earth will make humanity worthy of God. It’s a pretty grim set of hopes.
KW: Yeah, but hope is hope, grim or not. The darkest hour is before the dawn and all that. I actually like the bleakness of it in a way because despite the cool special effects, the overarching premise of the movie wasn’t heavy-handed in the way that a lot of big budget Hollywood films are with an obvious pulling at heartstrings or morality.
TL: I will tell you a secret: I Love Keanu. He picks movies that work with his Ted vs the Matrix legacy. They are always burnt out a little, they speak slowly, but they have an inner stregnth that I think he actually works quite well. So maybe he didn’t quite pull off being Buddha. He is apparently a reaally intelligent person and voracious reader.
And the young Shia Lebeouf! I had forgotten about his role in this movie. He does a great job at annoying sidekick.
What did you think of Gabriel being played by a woman?
KW: Since we’re admitting to secrets, I too will admit that I love Keanu. He’s not likely to win any Oscars but you can’t fault him for knowing his limitations and picking characters that he’s able to portray honestly. I feel that critics who find his acting wooden or reminiscent of some of his earlier roles, are biased in their reviews and pan anything in which he appears. As for Shia Lebeouf, I also forgot about him in the film and with reason. He was the biggest cliche in the movie, right up to how things end up for him.
As for my thoughts on Gabriel being played by a woman: fantastic! However, I think it worked only because it was Tilda Swinton. Any other female actor might not have been able to pull it off. She was able to balance the androgyny of this character with playfulness that was more charming than creepy. You?
TL: When I first watched this movie back in the day, it made me a fan of SWINTON. She is fierce and beautifu but androgynous, exactly. She’s perfect – a brilliant choice for this role.
Constantine was the kind of movie I wanted Legion to be – smart, dark, a little bit mystic. I’m going to give it 9/10 – it’s a contender for top of this (hopefully!) burgeoning genre.
KW: Yes, this was an enjoyable movie and one that Hollywood producers should be mindful of when creating the next films of this theme. It had all the right elements of both story line and style without being over-the-top. So, I’m going to agree with you here and give it a 9/10 also in the hopes that we see more films of this calibre in the future.