Constantine trailer – reaction

John Constantine may not be in the top rank of comic book heroes, or even antiheroes, but he has been ploughing a dedicated furrow for over twenty five years since the launch of Hellblazer in 1988. Originally a supporting character in Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, the standalone title was originally crafted by writer Jamie Delano and artist John Ridgway with covers by frequent Neil Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean, and indeed Gaiman is one of many high profile writers who have contributed stories, others being Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison. With the 2005 feature adaptation largely dismissed by fans of the comic for both its deviation from the source material and its own failings as a film, the announcement that a more faithful television version had been proposed was greeted with cautious enthusiasm. With the first trailer now revealed, how does the future look for the endlessly cynical occult detective?

Kevin Gilmartin – I quite liked the movie Constantine as a separate entity. It was a good film; it was just a crap Hellblazer film.

As a fan of the comic I’m excited by this new series; Constantine looks the part with his scabby raincoat and blond hair, he’s English – which immediately puts him an order of magnitude above Keanu – and from the trailer he seems to have Constantine’s trademark lack of giving a fuck unless it’s personal.

Visually it looks amazing but it doesn’t give us a whole lot to go on with regard to the story – there’s a girl he’s looking after because of a promise to her (presumably dead) father, “something” is coming and the underworld can sense it. Tired tropes hopefully used well.

I like urban sorcery and I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift books, the former had a short-lived run on telly and the rights to the latter were bought a few years back with no movement since.

Constantine is a bit more visceral than either, and I hope the small screen does it justice.

Michael Flett – I’m absolutely loving this – it has energy and personality and an attitude that just doesn’t seem to care for appeasing anyone, it just does what it wants, and that’s the way it has to be.

My concern would be that has to be more than just wandering through damp forests, otherwise it’s just going to look like Stargate SG1. Some of the effects look very good, others quite cheap, which indicates they have hopes for it but not quite enough confidence, which with audiences so unpredictable and divided, is understandable. There used to be so little genre programming any quality show would be guaranteed to have a large following but the market is packed pretty tight these days, but if this trailer is anything to go by, underneath the odour of brimstone I smell a hit.

I don’t know Matt Ryan at all but he seems to be having a blast in the part, the pilot is directed by Neil Marshall who gave us Dog Soldiers, The Descent and the Battle of Blackwater a couple of years ago, and it’s produced by David S Goyer who gave us the Blade films, Batman Begins and Man of Steel and Daniel Cerone who worked on Dexter. Okay, Goyer also gave us the Blade television series and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Cerone worked on… Charmed. Let’s move on.

I’ve known of the comic for years but never had the chance to read it, and the film (can it really be nine years?) pretty much beat out any desire to investigate further. It affirmed the eternal magnificence of Tilda Swinton, Shia LeBeouf was approaching a level of tolerance which is rare for him, and I realised I liked Rachel Weisz when she wasn’t in a Stephen Sommers film, and Gavin Rossdale was a revelation – he was so good I didn’t even recognise him.

But Keanu – how does this man have a career? Other than Ted “Theodore” Logan he has been impentratingly awful in every performance he has ever given. How does he get cast? What could have been a good, if compromised, adaptation was willfully crippled by his presence. Director Francis Lawrence then pulled the short straw with I Am Legend, though he’ll likely have more clout now he’s done three Hunger Games back to back.

Keanu Reeves – begone! This looks to be the reincarnation it deserved. Count me in this fall.

Dario Persechino – That looks really good! It seems to have a good blend of humour, action and spine tingling creepiness that will now be waiting for me when I close my eyes (‘Grandma’ gave me the heebie-jeebies). Matt Ryan looks good as Constantine, and I’m so glad they’ve chosen a Brit for the role. I’m looking forward to it starting 🙂

Stephen Sutherland – Looks like it could be fun, though “fun” is rarely a word I associated with John Constantine. I’m looking for this to be harrowing, a supernatural True Detective.

I don’t think I’ll get that, sadly, but for the action-adventure genre tinged with darkness and the dark arts, this could be good. Not blown away, but not put off. I’ll give it a shot at least!

Glenn Jones – I love Hellblazer and I think it’s the perfect vehicle for a television series. Constantine is the perfect anti-hero and it’s nice to see him portrayed as being English (and not surfer duuuuude).

I’m sure the initial episodes will be the ‘monster of the week’ variety but as the series grows I hope it becomes more like American Horror Story than Supernatural. If it’s done right I expect good things!

Adam Dworak – I don’t know the Hellblazer comic books and without this comic baggage I can judge the trailer for what it is.

My first experience with Constantine was the movie from 2005 with Keanu Reeves and I loved it. Angels and demons, secret worlds hidden in front of our eyes, a magical war about which we don’t know, possessions, exorcisms and violent deaths, everything shown in the fantastic special effects.

I fell in love with all those elements a long time ago when I saw The Prophecy with Christopher Walken for the first time and Constantine felt to me like a continuation of that, celebrating that duality of the world in the same way China Miéville did with Kraken, for example.

I just hope they will keep the right proportions between the darkness, the grimness, the horror; my only concern would be the clever humor of Matt Ryan who is playing John Constantine, which for seems to dominate the trailer. A little is fine, but it needs to be kept in check – I don’t want NBC to change Constantine into another Buffy Summers.

Constantine launches later in the year




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