Constantine Review by John Keegan

Constantine 1.01: Non Est Asylum

Constantine 1.01: Non Est Asylum

Written By:
Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer
Directed By:
Neil Marshall

The biggest problem with the pilot for Constantine is that the property isn’t particularly well-known.  Unless one was a reader of Hellblazer or well-versed in DC Comics lore, the only real point of reference is the Keanu Reeves film from a few years back.  And that wasn’t a terrible film on its own, but largely considered to be a poor representation of the character.  I don’t know that anyone would feel differently by the end of this premiere.


Despite being full of exposition and liberally drenched in scares and blood, I came out of the pilot wondering why I should care about John Constantine and his mission at all.  Sure, there are demons and dark magic aplenty throughout Atlanta, apparently, but what makes me want to watch Constantine fight them?  Constantine’s most recognizable character trait, right now, is his absurdly variable “British” accent.


The biggest problem is that there is already a well-beloved television riff on Constantine, and his name was Spike.  If Constantine managed to meet Spike even halfway in the demon-hunting, attitude-tossing Brit camp, maybe the series would be off to a better start.  Constantine, however, goes through so many different tonal shifts throughout the hour that I can’t even be sure if Constantine as a character is taking things too seriously or not at all.  From scene to scene, it’s a mystery.


Not to mention that I love Lucy Grittiths, between her turns on Robin Hood and True Blood, yet the character of Liv somehow managed to have even less personality than Constantine.  Her reactions and choices felt far more driven by plot needs than consistent character motivations, and if she is meant to be a viewpoint character for the audience, it doesn’t quite connect.  Of course, that doesn’t matter, because she apparently tested so poorly with audiences that she is going to be replaced post haste with a completely different character, thus making the time and energy spent on introducing her in the premiere a complete waste of time!


By the time that Constantine sets his hands on fire to face down his enemies in a dark alley at the end of the premiere, I was left wondering why I should care.  And that’s a big problem for a pilot trying to sell the audience into spending another hour’s worth of time (or DVR space) on a new show.  I have nothing holding my interest going into the second episode: no major plot hooks, no characters of interest, not even a world mythology to sink my teeth into.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • It probably wouldn’t take much to add something worthwhile to the mix
The Bad:
  • This was the very definition of a bland, uninteresting pilot
  • None of the main characters were particularly memorable
  • Why bother sticking with this pilot if it centered on a departing character?

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Constantine by - 10/27/2014 11:47 AM259 views

Your Responses


Grade: B
I can understand your point about the pilots poor introduction to people who are not hellblazer fans, it does start in a strange place and sine if the characters are not as fleshed out as they should have been. That being said, from a fan of hellblazer I think the pilot started in an excellent location and I think they started it there as an ode to constantines general character in hellblazer. He is DC's greatest con-artist and his magic is secondary to that.

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