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Constantine

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And while I don't have the time to say much just yet -- I've been catching up on these threads all day, and I have to start paying attention to my wife again at SOME point soon -- I do have to say that my first reaction to this film was that it was sooooo Catholic, even if it got its Catholicism wrong.

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The more I hear about this film the more depressed I get. (Still haven't seen it, still plan to though).

The thing that really bothers me is that the people who make this film are trying to "woo" Christian audiences in the first place.  The Hellblazer comic books are not particularly pro Christian at all, in fact they use the Christian concepts of God and the Devil and the rest to critique Christianity as seen through the filter of self-proclaimed Christians revelling in hypocrisy. It's has some of the more intelligent criticisms of *Christians* I've read... and the "hero", John Constantine, is one of the most flawed characters I've read in a comic.  In the comic, he didn't try to commit suicide... he

went INSANE because he was arrogant enough to believe that he had what it took to exorcise a demon from a girl, failed, and watched helplessly as she was pulled into hell as a result

.  He very rarely manages to solve a "problem" without seeing a little bit more of his own world fall to pieces, because while he's smart and charismatic and knows what's going on he's still very mortal and fallible, and he wrecks friendships and relationships because of it.

It's not the kind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with nonbelievers. In my opinion. It *is* thekind of story you'd use to spark discussions about Christianity with other Christians, however, not to mention that the stories are excellently written and, for all its hostility toward Christianity in general, a lot more care is taken to get the specifics of the theology right.

Honestly, what was it about the comic books that interested them in the first place? It sounds like this movie could have been made without referring to Constantine at all -- the character bears no resemblance to John Constantine, aging punk, dabbler in the occult, "Rake at the Gates of Hell" who alternates between saving the world at large and making his own personal world increasingly more miserable as time goes on.

I guess that kind of stuff doesn't really translate well into a two hour film. In which case, I ask again, why did they even bother? Just write a script about

a guy who sees dead people and tried to kill himself because of it so he wound up in hell for two minutes

and cast Keanu Reeves as that guy, let's call him Elijah because that's a cool name, and hey -- I'd be interested in seeing it.  But when you option a creative work that is popular for a specific reason and then ignore the reason entirely what you're saying is "we really have trouble coming up with movie names, and we're willing to spend way too much money to get around that by using someone else's."

OK, I'm done ranting. For the moment...

Warren Ellis commented on this on his Bad Signal mailing list a week or so ago. I believe his line was, "I'm constantly fascinated at how Hollywood can always find the hook of an Alan Moore work and then toss only that hook away." It was in reference to the upcoming adaptation of V For Vendetta but it seems to appy here.

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SDG wrote:

: : It also occurs to me that the notion that Hell and Heaven are two distinct places in the

: : afterlife is also a western / Latin / Catholic idea (which Protestants have inherited) . . .

:

: Now I think you're reaching, especially since the film doesn't portray Hell and Heaven

: as spatially distinct from one another, or even spatially distinct from Earth. Earth,

: Heaven and Hell all occupy the same space in the film; "Heaven and hell are right

: here, behind every wall, every window, the world behind the world."

Good point, as far as it goes, though Heaven and Hell ARE portrayed as at least DIMENSIONALLY distinct -- they each have an OBJECTIVE reality that can be beheld by people who do not share that SUBJECTIVE reality (e.g., Satan can apparently actually SEE Heaven).

Thanks for the quotes. FWIW, I wish I had the text of a speech that Fr. Thomas Hopko delivered at Trinity Western University (an evangelical institution) during his visit here a few months back -- it was not the first place where I heard the Orthodox position articulated, but it was perhaps the clearest articulation of it that I have heard so far.

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Chris, you might not hate this movie.

But man, you're gonna hate Keanu in that role...oh yes indeed.

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David Denby starts throwing punches after seeing Constantine.

Read it right away before the New Yorker updates the page.

You have to scroll through his Be Cool review. The Constantine review is at the bottom of the page. I'm with him on some points, and definitely not on others ... well, one in particular...

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He's lumping Constantine in with Passion of the Christ?

blink.gif

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Well, you know. They both had people with dark hair in them.

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Don't say it. I know I'm a little behind the curve, but I just saw Constantine last night (I'd been waiting forEVER in the library queue).

Jeff O's review pretty much sums it up for me, with the following additions: I didn't see this in a theater with a superduper sound system, but my duct tape & bailing wire home theater is pretty kick butt and I had to turn on the close captioning to understand a good portion of the dialogue! I've NEVER had to do that with a movie before. Purty visuals, messy sound. It was like the sound engineer never got around to sweetening the voice tracks or something.

:spoilers: (I know, the movie's been out long enough, but it doesn't hurt to be polite.)

First of all, here's another dualistic "balance between good and evil" thing which I really find boring in the long run. It's a world view that just doesn't go anywhere for me, and it's been done to death. If God & Satan are equal but have a hands-off position, then they might as well not exist. Yawn. Real theology is so much more interesting, why not run with it? Fooey.

Unbelievers performing exorcisms: I have a HUGE beef with that. It's such a pop theology conceit that anybody can cast out demons if they chant the right Latin. Yikes.

The so called "angel Gabriel" does have one teeny phrase that was a pleasant surprise. In JC's first meeting with him/her, where he's griping and saying he's just fine, thank you, he's going to get to heaven on his own merits, Gabriel says, "You know it doesn't work that way." If you blinked, you missed the only attempt at real theology in the whole mess. And what's with this "Gabriel" being a weird, vindictive, morally ambiguous, bi-polar putz? I guess this is "a" Garbriel vs. "the" Gabriel.

And that brings me to this "half-breed" thing. What, are these Nephilim? And then there's that piece of murky, fairy-tale drek (yes, it didn't make it into the final cut of the film, but I'm going to whinge about it anyway) of Chas becoming an angel. Don't stop there! Give the boy a harp, too! Gak.

O well. It was a diverting two hours, but ultimately disappointing. Rachel Weizs is super, but the weird scriptural mistakes and theological fantasy had me (and my hubby when he came home in the middle of it) saying "What the...?!" about every five minutes.

Oh, and the "death by flies" thing was really icky (which is what they were going for, I'm sure).

Neb

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I stumbled in from the Archangel thread...I guess I must have been on hiatus when this was being discussed.

Unbelievers performing exorcisms: I have a HUGE beef with that. It's such a pop theology conceit that anybody can cast out demons if they chant the right Latin. Yikes.

Technically, Constantine

is a believer. He believes in God, the devil, demons, etc. He also has a direct connection to the supernatural because of his trip to hell. So, the film doesn't really show that anybody can be an exorcist.

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