Constantine 1.1 -Non Est Asylum (Pilot)

pronunciationThey got his name wrong.  I can’t believe, they *actually* got his name wrong.

Well, okay.   Yes I can.   They did in the movie too but as the picture shows, it’s clearly set out that the  ConstanTEEN pronunciation is incorrect.

Mind you, the movie got pretty much everything  wrong. Everything. It was so far away from the source material that I was more than willing to let the pronunciation slide simply because it wasn’t Constantine. Once you get over that shocker, it’s actually a really good movie.

Constantine, the TV show, is a lot closer to the source material. There are some deviations and a couple of characters that have been mashed together – notably Chas who is no longer a hen-pecked cabbie, but a cabbie who appears to exhibit psychic abilities and also able to cheat death.   Bit of a difference there, but it really doesn’t bother me in any significant way.  Zed showing up at the end looks tacked on.  Maybe she’s a Liv replacement, but I’m not sure this is the Zed we know from the comics.   Again. this doesn’t really bother me.  Lets just see how it goes.

What bothered me was that this pilot episode didn’t seem to quite know what it was doing, particularly odd as the director is more than able to do something amazing.  It really was just a series of possessions and explosions desperately searching for a plot.  Or a point.

The one thing that was staggeringly obvious was that Liv, was being set up to be a recurring character. Having her ‘leave’ off screen, in an aside from Chas was, frankly, just shoddy and probably means the makers agree that she was annoying, ill-formed and just… whiney and wrong.  The only thing she really brought to the show was to unlock the Winters house.   Was that Baron Winters from Night Force?   And was that Doctor Fate’s helmet?  The Ibis stick? And was all that backwards writing a reference to Zatanna?  And if so, that places a reference to all the major players from the “American Gothic” storyline in that building . . . all except Swamp Thing and Sargon, anyway…

If this suffered from anything, it suffered from the usual Pilot Episode malady: the need to impress. It was so busy trying to do that, it forgot about a plot and just provided fan boy shocks and references.  The direction was lacklustre, the performances wooden, the script was rooted in the seventies in tone, seemingly written by someone that hasn’t quite grasped that comics have moved on a bit since then and yet . . .

I couldn’t help but think that there is a lot here to build on and once the cast gets to grips with what it is they are doing, once the direction becomes more confident and once an actual plots kick in, it could be something quite extraordinary.

One thing that lacked a certain televisual flare is that in terms of defeating demons, he basically holds his hand up and shouts a lot. I could tire of that very easily. I’m not suggesting he goes full on ‘Doctor Strange’, but something a little more interesting would really, really help. Of course, the funniest thing was seeing Constantine use his lighter to set a demon on fire, knowing that he was unable to use it for his trademark Silk Cut, because of stupid TV rulings.  I suppose that effectively cuts out the lung cancer storyline.

Did I enjoy it?   I don’t really know.  Will I be watching again?  Yes, I’m intrigued enough to give it another go.  I’m sure it’s quaking in it’s boots at the thought of disappointing me, but it’s on very thin ice.  I’m going into Yorkshire gig mode, standing at the back, arms folded saying “Go on then.  impress me”.

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