Horror review: Constantine



The Vancouver-shot Catwoman may be up for a record-breaking seven Razzies at this weekend’s 25th annual Golden Raspberry Awards-Hollywood’s tribute to the very worst in movies-but there’s already a buzz on about the major contenders for next year. One likely nominee is yet another locally lensed stinker, Alone in the Dark, which stars Christian Slater as a cool, detached tough guy bent on stopping hell’s demons from advancing into the mortal realm.

The other candidate, just added to the list, is Constantine, which stars Keanu Reeves as a cool, detached tough guy bent on stopping hell’s demons from advancing into the mortal realm. The former is based on a series of video games, the latter on a run of graphic novels, but both are tacky, CGI-driven action-horror flicks with some of the most vacuous writing and wooden acting to ever torment damned theatregoers.

Reeves plays John Constantine, a sarcastic, chain-smoking Los Angeles demonology expert who was born with the unwanted ability to distinguish between Satan’s spawn and normal little old ladies on buses. Driven by this burden to attempt suicide in his youth, he spent a long two minutes in the pit of hell before being resuscitated, so now-dying from lung cancer-he desperately wants to earn entry into heaven by eliminating as many of Lucifer’s earthbound minions as he can identify.

Every so often, Constantine reluctantly makes a return trip to hell, as when he decides to check on the recently deceased twin sister of LAPD detective Angela Dodson (The Mummy‘s Rachel Weisz). He crosses over by sticking his feet in a tub of water and staring into the eyes of Dodson’s cat-I’m not making this up!-then returns from the flaming abyss steaming but unsinged, therefore able to stay fashionably noirish in his black-on-white ensemble.

Dapper Bush vocalist Gavin Rossdale looks even sharper as the smirking, pinstripe-suited Balthazar, the devil’s emissary, until his tanned face becomes melted green goo due to Constantine’s liberal application of holy water. As expected, the film’s grisly gore and monster effects become its main attraction once the Con man builds himself a shiny gold shotgun and starts blasting the demonic hordes to tiny bits.

At the height of the carnage, Reeves should have reverted to the role he was born to play, that of vacant teenager Ted Logan in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and stared dumbfounded at the weapon’s smoking barrel before goofily proclaiming “Whoooa, wicked dude!” That would have injected at least one badly needed moment of fun into music video-trained director Francis Lawrence’s witless and overblown feature debut.

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