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Constantine

In this sci fi fantasy, Keanu Reeves plays John Constantine, a chain smoking exorcist who has been battling demons both real and imagined, for most of his life. As he was growing up, he could see angels and demons walk the earth and tried to commit suicide because of this. However, he was sent back to earth from Hell, and has made it his purpose in life to rid of enough demons back to hell in order for him to go to Heaven. In this, he’s helped by the angel Gabriel, who gives him guidance and also by a nightclub owning witchdoctor who runs a club for angels and demons alike. Mixed up in all this is a cop played by Rachel Weisz, who is after clues about what happened to her twin sister, who committed suicide. She wants Constantine’s help in retrieving her sister back from hell. They then stumble onto a plot by demons to retrieve the ‘Spear of Destiny’, which grants the user powers to control the earth. Both of them race against time to get the spear and avert worldwide chaos.

The best fantasy films are ones that tell an engrossing story and make you believe in the characters and the situations they are in, no matter what the setting is. Unfortunately, ‘Constantine’ is one of the more dull fantasy films of recent times. The film is based on a cult comic book called ‘Hellblazer’, and while it’s quirky characters might be suitable for comics, on the cinema screen, it just doesn’t come together as well as it should. Keanu Reeves is hardly the world’s best actor, but he gives a performance that’s so low key, you would think he was asleep! Plus the fact that he mumbles every word he says, and you just can’t develop any sympathy for the character - which for him playing the films ‘hero’, - is a disaster. He is at least better in this than the last Matrix film, which was a total disappointment and proof that the last 2 Matrix films should never have been made. Keanu tries to inject some humour into his part as Constantine, but it feels forced and just isn’t funny.

Rachel Weisz is definitely the best thing in this. Unlike Keanu, her character is more sympathetic and believable. She was the main female lead in the Mummy films, and has certainly developed into a good actress since that time. Her two roles in this are well handled, and she does her best, given the quality of the script she’s been given. The rest of the actors in this are unknowns and do their best in clichéd parts. Satan himself makes an appearance in the film - in human form - wearing a white satin lounge suit - which was probably the most entertaining aspect of the whole film!

‘Constantine’ seems to take forever to get going, and when it does get to a story, it doesn’t get anywhere. The acting in this is generally pretty bad, with only Rachel Weisz being any good. The script is uninvolving, and confusing at times. To be honest, it would have been better, had the script been turned into a comedy. A lounge suit wearing Lucifer, and a witchdoctor who looks like something out of Shaft, sounds hilarious. As a comedy, this would have worked. The film shows hell on earth, but this was definitely hell on earth for me to watch!

Rating out of 10: 3

Cellular

Cellular starts with the kidnapping of a science teacher (Kim Basinger),
who is taken to a house and locked up in the attic by 4 thugs. The thugs
are after something to do with her family, and threaten to kidnap her son
and kill her husband if she doesn’t tell them what they want to know. One
of the thugs smashes the attic phone, but unknown to her captors, she
manages to piece together the broken wires of the phone, and connect with
the mobile phone of a young surfer (Chris Evans). At first this guy doesn’t believe her story, but as time goes on he believes her, and tries to find a way to save her family, without making sure his mobile doesn’t get lost along the way. In the midst of all this a near-retirement cop (William H Macy), gets involved and slowly pieces together who the thugs are and goes on the hunt after them.This is meant to be an edge of your seat thriller, with some action and
laughs, but as far as I’m concerned, this film is incredibly funny and tacky for all the wrong reasons! There are a few car wrecks in this film, but the main car wreck is actually watching the film go thru to its final
conclusion. Kim Basinger has had a long film career, starting with Never
Say Never Again in 1983. How she’s lasted this long I’m not sure, as her
performance in this is strictly from the Bette Davis Book of Ham Acting!
First, it’s hard believing Kim Basinger as a science teacher for a start,
secondly she seems to think that being a captive victim means screeching at the top of her voice and waving her arms about all thru the film. Her
acting is quite funny in this, but so is her permanent ’stunned look’
expression, which registers no emotion whatsoever - even when she tries to
‘act’.

William H Macy is usually a very steady performer who has done great
work in many Coen Brothers films and is very respected. You could be
forgiven not believing that after seeing him in this though. He’s
definitely the best thing in this, but his performance is pretty lazy, and
he seems to act as though he’s auditioning for the role of Ned Flanders from The Simpsons! According to the story his near retirement cop wants to quit the police force to open up a make up salon - huh?? He gives the role a light touch to it, that isn’t to be taken seriously at all, and is a nice contrast to the over acting of Ms Basinger. The young guy who gets involved in the whole story is played by Chris Evans, not someone I’ve seen before and not likely to again after this effort! Again, like William H Macy, he doesn’t take the film seriously at all, and looks as though he just took the pay cheque and ran.

The guys playing the ‘rent a thugs’ are no one special and are there to
keep the body count up to an acceptable level for a film like this. Despite the bad acting and hokey storyline, this is quite enjoyable because of all this! You can’t help but laugh at the performances (as did the audience in the session I went to did). This is definitely the perfect film to rent on a rainy afternoon, so bad it’s very funny. Usually I would give this type of film a 0, but because it’s so ridiculous I’ll be generous!

I would say that this is a low grade film that has heavy doses of high
grade camp - enjoyable fluff.

Rating out of 10 - 5

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