An Essay on Character and Motive
An Essay on Character and Motive
CONSTANTINE - WOW! This movie Kicked Ass! I totally LOVED this movie! Wow…oh wow.
The story is that heaven and hell made a bet on who could get Earth – the only rule is, no direct influence. Half-breeds, half-demons and half-angels can walk on earth but no full demons or angels.
In this movie, John Constantine’s personal mission is saving lives by taking out the half-breed demons that interfere with people – for a completely selfish reason.
The movie CONSTANTINE is a Vertigo Comics rip-off of 'HELLBLAZER - Dangerous Habits'. The comic book character’s personal talent of shaping synchronicity – coincidence – to suit him, is utterly missing, and so is the fact that the guy is supposed to be blond and British…
But I don’t care. I LIKE this story. In fact, I like This story Better than the comic's story.
In this version, Constantine is so very Not all that special. He’s pretty much a normal guy with a few fancy toys, a smoking habit that’s literally killing him, a few interesting friends, and a few very interesting enemies. His talent is seeing demons, angels, and the dead – but anyone can see them things if they have died.
“You see them. They see you.”
-- which of course, is what causes all the trouble.
Constantine is presented as a very interesting, and very complex character… Until you discover his motive, and then he’s not quite so complex -- only very, very human.
In this story, it’s not “magic powers” that wins the day, or even faith – but brains and heart.
The climactic ending -- John verses Satan -- is actually quite subtle. It’s not a battle of wills with fighting and such, but a battle of wits. If you don’t pay attention to John’s real motive – which is presented over and over, but never said out loud – you won’t get what actually happened.
I got it.
I sat back in my chair and went: “Damn…! That was better than the book!” Because it was. The movie’s ending was MUCH better because it was deeper. The ending in the movie actually meant more than the same (kind-of) ending presented in the book. For once, Hollywood actually out-did a book! Damn…
There are of course many, many "Hellblazer" purists who will bitch and moan about the book being so much better because the movie had NOTHING what so ever, to do with the book.
Well, they're RIGHT. Other than the characters' names, the movie wasn't anything at all like the book -- not plot, not character, not even location.
That doesn't change the fact that I liked THIS story Better than the one in the book. So, argue away purists. I have a delete key on my email. I'm good.
Character verses - Themselves
CONSTANTINE is very much a “character-driven” movie where a character’s personality (and personal neuroses,) ruled the results of any given crisis.
- Those that changed and adapted – lived.
- Those that couldn’t – died.
- Constantine's static trait was chain-smoking.
- Angelica used a gun to fix all her problems.
- Balthazar a half-demon, flipped a coin between his fingers.
- Gabrial, an angel half-breed, liked to pontificate on how very noble human-kind could be -- if their natural selfishness didn't get in the way.
- Beeman John's buddy that supplied interesting toys, and hard to find artifacts -- collected bugs.
- Chas a young cabby, and John's other buddy, wanted to be an exorcist like John, so he was forever trying to follow John into dangerous situations.
- Father Hennessy, another of John's buddies, was an actual exorcist with a talent for sensing evil - though he couldn't actually see them the way John could -- was an alchoholic.
Of course, only a few people in the whole movie fixed their issues and changed their static trait -- the rest died, regardless of whether they were demonic, angelic, or human.
Heroic Evil and Evil Heroism
In addition to a pet neurosis, just about every character (good and evil) was in role reversal in one way or another – it was So COOL!
- John Constantine played true middle of the road, but rather than dead neutral – (neither good nor evil) he did Good for evil reasons and Evil for good reasons.
- Angelica killed people - to save lives. She was a cop.
- Chas was a highly educated, complete innocent.
- Doctor Midnight was a voudun priest who ran a bar that allowed the angelic and the demonic to drink side by side. He was firmly dead neutral and offered his services, and a safe haven - to both sides...to a point.
- Father Hennessy was an exorcist TERRIFIED of demons.
- And then there was the angel Gabriel -- but that would be telling.
I LOVE stories like that.
Premise - Good verses Evil?
Not many movies have a strong Premise - a meaning inherent in the story. Constantine did - more so than the comic-book story they took it from.
This was not a story of Heaven and Hell, or even Good and Evil. This was a story that revolved around the human heart and the motive that drives them to act. The movie was constantly weighing a character's Actions against their Intent. (What they DID verses WHY they did it.)
The final answer seemed to be that Good or Evil depended on both the Action and the Intent behind it. Some Actions were unforgivable, no matter the Intent – and some Intents outweigh their Actions!
If you want to write about Reversed characters and character Motives, what drives the human heart to act, CONSTANTINE is a MUST SEE. Seriously.
Oh, and there were really cool special effects too. But as far as I’m concerned, those were entirely beside the point.