Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Am the Man of Constantine Sorrow

Based on its well-executed trailer, I had high hopes for NBC's adaptation of DC's antihero Constantine. But while the show benefits from excellent casting and creepy atmospherics, the pedestrian storytelling cripples what could have been an excellent pilot.

As in Guardians of the Galaxy, the writers attempt to create a sense of drama through backstory. We learn Constantine is so troubled by his failure to keep a little girl from being damned that he's committed himself to an asylum, where he willingly undergoes shock therapy to help him forget.

The trouble is, we're given no reason to care about this little girl. The writers take it for granted that because she's a child there's automatic sympathy and jeopardy. But without proper character development, she's just a plot device, a prop. Nor are we, the audience, shown exactly how Constantine failed to keep her out of the devil's arms; he just failed, without any real explanation.

Constantine's use of magic is pedestrian - he just shouts Latin phrases at demons and they recoil like vampires from the sunlight. In the comics, Constantine's relationship with magic is far more nuanced, and he relies on his wits and his cruelty and his willingness to sacrifice innocents to overcome evil.

That being said, the lead seems well-cast and the show has tons of atmosphere. But without better scripts, it's going straight to...well, you know where. 

1 comment:

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Sometimes It is best to judge genre shows by their second episode (or sometimes season!) rather than their first.

I haven't watched it yet, but I'm already saddened by their choice to mispronounce his name as Con-stan-TEEN rather than con-stan-TINE, but whatchagonnado?