It seems like every ten years or so, there’s a rush of comic book movies. Lately, those films have been closer to the source material. Then there’s Constantine, a movie that most movie fans may not realize was a comic and also a film that fans of the original comic will instantly not want to see because of how different it is. I always wonder, why even spend the money to license the story if you’re just going to make your own movie?
Based on DC Comics’ Hellblazer, with plot elements taken from the “Dangerous Habits” and “Original Sins” stories, this movie is all about John Constantine, a magician who can see demons and angels. The character originated in the comic Swamp Thing and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bisette and John Totleben. Yes, this is another Moore creation that was made into a movie that he probably despises.
I have a weakness for Keanu Reeves showing up in supernatural films, as he always seems bemused by the action that surrounds him.
In Hellblazer, he’s helping Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), an LAPD detective investigating the suicide of her twin sister. This, of course, brings him to Hell and into the orbit of Tilda Swinton as the Archangel Gabriel, who wants to unleash demons on Earth and Peter Stormare as Lucifer.
This movie is packed with some recognizable actors, like Shia LaBeouf as Constantine’s student Chas Kramer, Djimon Hounsou as nightclub owner Papa Midnite and Bush singer Gavin Rossdale as a demon named Balthazar.
The Spear of Destiny used in this movie is more than just the same occult object mentioned in Hellboy. It’s the same physical prop, too. That said — the Spear — which was used to stab Jesus’ side — has great significance to the DC Universe, as it was how Hitler was able to keep the superpowered heroes of Earth-2 from attacking his country, as Superman should have been able to stop the war with a few punches.
The demon Ellie, who was Constantine’s lover, was shot for the movie but is cut out. She was played by Michelle Monaghan.
Director Francis Lawrence would go on to make I Am Legend, three of The Hunger Games films and Red Sparrow.