Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Matthew McGrory

Constantine (2005)

Cigarettes are the devil.

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) was born with a gift that gave him the ability to recognise the half-breed angels and demons that walk the earth in human camouflage. It’s not something he wanted, but it was the hand he was dealt, so there’s not much else he can do with it other than drive the demons off of this Earth from hurting humans, and just smoke his life away. He seems pretty content on spending the rest of his days like this, that is all until police detective Angela Dodson’s (Rachel Weisz) twin-sister jumps off of a balcony, plummeting to her death. However, right before she decided to go sidewalk-diving, she apparently turned to the security-camera watching her uttering his name. Dodson knows that there’s something more powerful going on here than just a sudden burst of suicidal thoughts, so she decides to ring Constantine up, despite his best wishes to, once again, be left alone to smoke and fight evil for the rest of his days. But now, Constantine realizes there may be a way to save Dodson’s sister’s life, even if that does mean putting himself clearly in harms way.

A lot of people have made a stink about this movie and the choice in which Keanu Reeves was to play the titular character of the famous comics, John Constantine. While I have never read the comics, meaning I don’t have much of an opinion as if he perfectly solidifies this character or not, it doesn’t matter because Keanu Reeves, no matter what bad stuff you may hear about him, is STILL a movie star, and can take any piece of material, find a way to make it interesting and be able to get people to watch him do what it is that he’s doing, despite us all knowing he’s not-that good of an actor. That’s the reality of it, but we should all just get by that right now and move on. Shall we?

Hey, at least she didn't leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Hey, at least she didn’t leave Darren Aronofsky for THIS co-star of hers.

Anyway, what this movie does do well is that it sets its story up with a unique tone. Seeing this movie and material from afar, some would probably bet this to be an overly-serious, religious-themed thriller that’s all about demons, gods, angels and all sorts of other biblical references to where you feel like you’re back in Sunday School, but the movie has a little bit of fun with itself, right before it dives right into that cheesiness. Constantine’s played-up more as an anti-hero that always has something nifty to say, has his pack of smokes handy and basically knows what it is that he has to do next, at any given time. The movie sets us up with this cool-as-molasses character right away, gives us a tone that’s at times goofy, but darkly so, and has us feel like if the rest of the movie continues on like this, we may just have ourselves a clear-defined winner of religious-themed, action-thrillers, among the other religious-themed, action-thrillers (of which there are many, I think).

However, about half-way through, once the real bulk of this story gets introduced to us, things begin to slowly go downhill. For starters, the movie is over two-hours long, which already gives you the impression that no matter what it is that this flick does with its story, it must do it quick and easy, just so it doesn’t feel like a three-hour epic along the likes of Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments (and yes, I know those two are way, WAY longer than just “two-hours”). But needless to say, despite him having a clear-eye for what it is that he wants to tell us about this story and this main character, director Francis Lawrence still can’t seem to get himself away from all of the constant-exposition that usually brings these types of movies to a screeching-halt.

With a story of this matter, it’s not like you don’t need to know the ins, the outs and whereabouts of when Satan was born, how, where and why he matters now, it’s just that there is a more efficient way to tell that, among many other parts of the story, without having it seem like a total snooze-fest that’s so repetitive, you don’t even care if it makes sense or not. Instead, you just want to see this Constantine guy put his feet into water, grab a cat, start meditating and all of a sudden, be thrown into this dark after-world, where all he does is battle demons. Yes, that scene does happen and it’s pretty cool, but it’s in the middle of non-stop dialogue-heavy scenes where people just use a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, that can easily get passed off as “religious”.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, I say!

As we all know though, once the middle-half of a movie goes by and we feel as if we’ve been more-than introduced to this story and the characters that inhabit it, then things begin to get fun, and that’s the truth with this flick. While it does get really goofy and cheesy by the end with all of the CGI, the movie still kept me entertained and feeling as if I was just watching a piece of science-fiction, rather than something that was supposed to have a deeper-meaning because it used biblical-figures like Gabriel or Lucifer himself (perfectly given the nickname of “Lou”; whatta cool guy). Some may be enraged by me saying something like that, but it helped me get through the movie a lot easier. So crucify me if you must, but I was just trying to make the pill go down easier.

"Did I hear somebody talking about 'a machinehead'?"

“Did I hear somebody talking about ‘a machinehead’?”

And yes, I did use a “pill joke” there because Keanu stars in this and yes, he is like I said before: Stiff, tired and dull, but he’s still fun to watch. He makes Constantine the type of witty bad-ass a movie of this nature needs to move along and survive by, and without him, I don’t really know who else I could see doing it. Maybe if I read the comics I would know, but for right now, it seems like Neo was a pretty solid choice in the first place. Rachel Weisz, despite her credible acting-abilities, is sort of left without much to do other than work-off of the blank piece-of-paper that is Keanu Reeves’ screen-presence, but she makes it interesting enough, to say the least. Still though, this would be released in the same year that she won her Oscar, so I guess all was forgiven after awhile.

As okay as these two are in the lead roles, they’re sort of given the standard-roles where all they have to do is all act all plain and simple, amongst all of their crazy, bat-shit surroundings, which doesn’t just limit itself to the atmosphere and the story, but the fun and energetic supporting cast as well. Shia LaBeouf gets his first, real taste in mainstream cinema as Constantine’s lacky and shows that he has the ability to be charming and a bit annoying at the same time, but rightfully so; Djimon Hounsou plays a strange, voodoo-like conjurer called Papa Midnite, who doesn’t take sides between the angels and the demons, yet, sees himself leaning more towards the demons, just because the plot needs him to do so; Gavin Rossdale is charming as the cunning Balthazar, showing us that in the year 2005, he was still staying relevant by doing this and Gwen Stefani at the same time (bastard); Tilda Swinton shows up early on as the angel Gabriel, and isn’t heard from in quite awhile, until she shows up later and does what she does best; and Peter Stormare plays the infamous Lou, giving him all the likable, but evil charm we’d expect to see when Peter Stormare is playing the man also known as Satan himself. If that isn’t what the devil’s really like, then I have no clue what a better personification truly is!

Consensus: Juggles itself around with being overtly-serious at certain times, and campy-but-fun at others, but at the end of the day, Constantine is just a fun, cool-looking and feeling religious-themed action-thriller that somehow benefits from the deadly-charm of Keanu Reeves and the rest of his able cast.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"WOAAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

“WOAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Advertisements

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Those psycho-hillbillies with knives in their shoes, yeah don’t worry; they’re just serial killers on the run.

After their ranch gets raided by the police, Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon) and Baby’s father, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) escape and decide what better way to feel as if they have fought the law and that they won; then going around, and killing more people than they did before! However, it’s only a real matter of time until the law catches up with them, and eventually tries to win. But these three aren’t going down without a fight or a murder, that’s for damn sure!

Rob Zombie definitely has a lot going for him in terms of what he uses with his sick, twisted-mind that so many people thought was just good for yelling, “Draaagullaaaaaaa!“, but the guy wanted to prove us wrong and ended-up making his directorial-debut with House of a 1000 Corpses. Even though it’s been awhile since the last time I saw that movie, I do remember fondly being a tad scared but also thinking that it was pretty stupid, overall. That’s why the idea of a sequel to a movie I didn’t really care for in the first place, let alone a horror movie I didn’t care for, was not something on the top of my list to see. Somehow though, Zombie not only proved me, but everybody else wrong as well. Maybe people do like to see other human-beings mutilated and murdered on-screen. My mistake.

"Happy birthday, Johnny! Now, let's go sign you up for that psychiatrist."

“Happy birthday, Johnny! Now, let’s go sign you up for that psychiatrist.”

If Zombie does anything right here, it’s that nails the look and feel of this movie with a really cool, ultra-retro 70’s-vibe that plays throughout the whole run-time. You can just taste the sweat; you can just smell the dirt; and most of all, you can imagine you yourself being in a wrong place, at the wrong time, and not having any clue what to do, especially when these bag of psychos walk through the front door. That’s something that Zombie does well here, and that’s getting us right in the mood right from the start with a bunch of dark, but ironic scenes of murder, mutilation, torture, and psychological and physical-games that aren’t right for everybody to play. Trust me on that. Zombie may be a crazy/scary lead-singer of a metal band (a pretty bad-ass metal band, I have to say), but the guy has a fine taste in classic-rock and mixes a lot of choice-tunes from the likes of Allman Brothers Band, Muddy Waters, and the best usage of all, Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don’t want to give away where, why, and how the song finds it’s way into the movie, but once it kicks in; you have to trust me that you’re going to be stunned. I was and it may be awhile until I hear that song the same ever again.

However, this is a horror movie no matter how much funny, zany things Zombie throws in to lighten-up the mood and it’s not a typical horror movie where your shorts will be scared off. It’s more like one of those horror films that has a bunch of freaky people, that do bad, violent things to innocent people, but plays more on the unpredictable-factor of the whole story rather than the actual torturing of those said, innocent people. This idea for a horror movie is a lot different than what we are used to seeing in horror movies nowadays like Saw or Hostel, where everything is all about the torture, the pain, and exploitation of people being torn to shreds, as we all sit and watch with our popcorn in our laps and our extra-large sodas by our sides. This one is more about putting you on the edge of your seat and have you wondering just what the hell is going to happen next and in that regard, it does it’s job very nicely. Or should I say, Mr. Zombie does his job very nicely.

Mind you, I didn’t watch this movie in it’s infamous Unrated version and that kind of makes me curious just how freakin’ dirty and disgusting it may have been because with this rated-R version, Zombie over-stepped a shit-load of MPAA rules that was sure to make those old-timers keel-over in their fine, leather chairs. To an extent, all of the blood, guts, action, violence, bushes, boobs, asses, and murders all work in making this flick one hell of a ride from Zombie’s mind. But it can only go on so far until it becomes a bit repetitive. Let me just state this: I get that a horror film has to feature a bunch of crazy killers on the road, torturing people and not leaving anybody for granted, but after the third scene of human-torture, it got to a point of where I sort of had enough already. I mean I wasn’t tired of it because I couldn’t handle the sight of somebody getting emotionally and physically ‘effed with, but more of the fact that I just didn’t care for it much. After the hour-mark hits it’s, things just begin to feel like Zombie was pulling something out of his bag of tricks that he kept on using, mostly because it pleased the same damn people in the theater. Move on with the story, give me some plot, and most of all, show me more than just a bunch of acts of unneeded torture.

"There's a creek up ahead? Wanna get a wash? Nope? Okay, let's go kill. some d-bags in a 2-star motel."

“There’s a creek up ahead? Wanna get a wash? Nope? Okay, let’s go kill some d-bags staying in a 2-star motel.”

Then, something strange happened. I guess Zombie heard my complaints (I wish) and decided, “Hey, maybe it is time for a little bit of a story to get thrown in here!” Well, the story that I had in my-mind, was definitely a lot more entertaining and thought-provoking than the one Zombie had on-display. See, the first flick had these three pieces of shit look exactly like that: pieces of shit. They were essentially, a bunch of villains that you could only get in a sick, sadistic horror-movie straight from the mind of Rob Zombie and there was nothing else to it than that. Somehow though, Zombie got the bright idea in his ass and decided that maybe it was time to make these three pieces of shit, seem like they have souls, make it seem like they have lives that are worth living, make them seem like, well, dare I say it: human-beings. Well, sort of. Zombie tries to make us care for these characters that don’t do a single, good thing throughout the whole hour and fifty minute time-limit and because of the fact that they are able to tell witty jokes when they are about to off somebody is why we’re supposed to care for them? I don’t think so, and to be honest, I wasn’t buying it. They are pieces of shite that I wanted to see dead regardless of what they tried to make us think otherwise. Instead of standing behind their backs, the whole time I was cheering for the police officers, for the poor, defenseless people they tortured and messed-with, and even Zombie himself to actually grow a pair and not let these characters get all sentimental and have us care for them.

Even though their characters aren’t worth loving, the performances from the trio of leads may have you think otherwise. Sid Haig is a riot as Captain Spaulding and is weird, sick, twisted, and a bit believable as the old man of the group that seems to know the most, seems to have the most sense, and even seems to be the only one who doesn’t kill people right away. Bill Moseley is also good as Otis and has some funny-lines here and there that have us shocked by his character, but I felt like something was missing to really have this guy play with your mind and play with the conventions of the usual, horror-film bad-guy. He sort of just acts like a dick and does bad things, but there isn’t anything else more to him than that. Wish I eventually got that and didn’t just sit around and see him torture the hell out of people. Then again, it’s a horror movie so I can’t go too crazy asking for much. We all know why Sheri Moon Zombie is in this flick as Lady, (other than the fact that she is freakin’ smoking hot) and it’s kind of a sad reason too, because the girl kind of blows. She tries way too hard to be this witty, weird girl that can stand-up on her own, but also doesn’t take shit from anybody else, either. I didn’t really care for her, feel fear from her, and instead, just thought she was trying a bit too hard, just like her hubby who was sitting behind her probably slapping her as the whole way through. And holy hell, I do not blame him!

Consensus: The Devil’s Rejects definitely shows an improvement over House of a 1000 Corpses with a cool and fun direction from Rob Zombie that makes the guy seem like he has his head on the right shoulder this time around, but yet, it is a horror movie that feels a bit repetitive and doesn’t have us give a single-lick about our three leads, no matter how hard it tries to manipulate us into feeling that way.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Come on, law!! You got this!

Come on, law!! You got this!