Constantine: Film vs TV Show
A review by @CdnMountainMan (Follow on twitter @CDNMountainman)
Now there has been large buzz about Constantine hitting the TV airwaves. Especially since the
last we have seen Constantine on screen was 2005 (almost 10 years ago) when it hit theatres
starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, a young Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou and a rare
appearance by Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush. Now I know I have a general tendency to rage
about comic book adaptations on film but I will admit I never read Hellblazer so I cannot make any
direct ragefilled comments about how they screwed up the storyline or characters.
I remember watching Constantine in theatres and I really enjoyed the movie I thought it was pretty
solid overall after I while I added into my movie collection and have watched it a couple of
additional times since. Now I hadn't watched it in a long while so I did crack it out and watch it
again to make some comparisons between both the movie and TV show
Constantine was born with the ability to see angels and demons. During his teenage years he
attempted to commit suicide and was clinically dead for 2 minutes during which his soul is bound
to Hell for the sin of trying to take his own life.
Constantine exorcises a demon from a young girl trying to break through to Earth which is
apparently not possible. He seeks audience with the halfbreed angel Gabriel to gain a reprieve
from his lung cancer for the work he has done in the name of God. She declines stating he has
been acting selfishly and won't earn him a spot in Heaven. He then meets with Papa Midnite and
is informed that all of Hell is waiting for him to die and that he is the one soul that Lucifer himself
would collect. Constantine is left on his own due to Midnite wanting to maintain the balance
between Heaven and Hell.
Constantine gets a visit from Angela Dodson who is investigating the death of her twin sister after
she leapt from the roof of a psychiatric hospital. He dismisses the death but after demons chase
her in the open he agrees to help. Constantine takes a trip to Hell briefly to see if Isabel is truly in
hell and he does manage to find her. The acquaintances of Constantine manage to find out that a
demon, in fact Lucifer's son Mammon is attempting to take over Earth for himself. But for that to
happen he needs a psychic and assistance from God.
Angela reveals that both she and her sister has visions when they were younger. Angela
repressed and denied them where as Isabel embraced them which lead to her family
institutionalizing her and eventually to her death. Angela's ability is reawakened with
Constantine's help and through further investigation realize that Mammon has the Spear of
Destiny which is stain by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Angela is abducted after the awakening of her visions and power. Mammon has both pieces he
needs to complete the ritual and break through to Earth. John goes back to Midnite to use a chair
to only find out that Mammon had the Spear already and was beginning to break through to
Earth. Chas is killed during the encounter (I admit this time I cheered when Shia bit it) with
Gabriel. Just as Gabriel was ready to release Mammon by stabbing Angela with the Spear that
Constantine slits his wrist and kills himself at which point Lucifer comes to collect his soul.
Mammon's plan to come through to Earth is revealed by Constantine and Lucifer sends him back
to Hell and burns off Gabriel's wings.
Lucifer grants John a favor; but instead of asking for longer life he asks Lucifer to allow Isabel to
go to Heaven. Lucifer agrees but then finds out he can't take Constantine to hell because of his
noble sacrifice; and he begins to rise to Heaven. Filled with ire and anger for his trickery Lucifer
resurrects Constantine and removes his terminal lung cancer figuring that he will eventually work
his was back into his clutches. A now demon free Angela leaves with Constantine leaving behind
a human Gabriel. But as they exit for the first time in the movie Constantine doesn't reach for a
cigarette but grabs a piece of gum.
I swear Keanu must have smoke at least a couple cartons through the course of the movie you
constantly see him butting out or lighting up in any scene. It's insane, had I thought of it I was
going to count the amount of smokes he has just in the course of the movie.
Now in the television he starts off in an asylum that he put himself in. Now in the show he has
been damned due to a botched exorcism that conjured a demon and killed a girl named Astra.
Another patient is possessed by an entity and leaves Constantine a message. He leaves to find
Liv Aberdine, who is unaware of this particular threat. The entity happens to be Liv's dead father
trying to save her. Constantine gives Liv a pendant from her father which allows her to see spirits
and trapped souls around her.
Chas is seemingly killed quickly in the television version trying to save Liv. John learns the name
of the demon and quickly begins to teach Liv some new skills such as scrying to learn about
demonic activity. We learn that Chas didn't die after all and helps Constantine to trap the demon.
With the help of another acquaintance they weaken the demon but he attempts to offer up Astra's
life for Liv's. Liv through the use of her pendant realizes that its a ruse. Constantine vows that he
is coming for Astra and the demon responsible for her death. He casts a spell and sends the
demon back to Hell after which Liv decides to leave town. Constantine admits that he pushed her
away but only because exorcism isn't for everyone. At the end you see a woman sketching with a
number of drawing all picturing Constantine almost as if she were a prophet or seer of some sort.
The show is still quite dark and gloomy just not 'as' dark as the movie a lot of scenes in the show
were done during the day unlike the movie but still had quite the dark undertones. The one major
difference is that with all the regulations and being PC you never see him smoke. You see him
playing with his lighter on occasion but that is the extent of it. I actually don't mind the television
actor Matt Ryan. He has the darker side to him as did Keanu but he appears a little more
aggressive and emotional. Perhaps a bit more manic than depressive where I would tip the
scales in the other direction for Keanu. Both make a good fit based on the direction they both
take on the screen.
I had always liked the movie and when I heard they were turning it into a show I had my doubts.
That was until I caught the leaked pilot approximately 23 months ago. It peaked my interest
quickly and I was mad that I had to wait that long for it to be on regularly. In addition to which that
it adds to the fact that DC Comics has had a decent rate of success on television with their shows.
Film: 4.5 out of 5 Beards (Had to be that good for me to watch it multiple times)
TV show: 4.0 out of 5 Beards (Really wish it was a little darker; lightwise not storywise)