Two Reviews

I saw a couple of movies on Friday night – Million Dollar Baby and Constantine.

Million Dollar Baby, despite all appearances, is not a boxing movie. It’s dressed up like a boxing movie, it walks like a boxing movie, and it talks like a boxing movie. It’s not a boxing movie but rather a movie about a boxer. Like Mystic River before it, there are no special effects, no fancy camera work, no flash. Just a simple story, told in a straight-forward fashion. Long lingering conversations allow the characters’ personalities shine through, and sometimes there are just silent scenes that are more revealing than any dialogue could allow. Million Dollar Baby is mostly a quiet, contemplative movie, that plucks at heartstrings but still can make you laugh. It’s not a flashy movie, but like Hillary Swank’s character, Maggie, it’s got a lot of heart.

Constantine, on the other hand, is all flash. A lot of my friends told me that if I could get past the fact that it was based on Hellblazer it was a pretty decent movie. I wouldn’t go that far, but it wasn’t terrible. I’ll skip all the bits that have been changed from the comic and treat the movie as standalone. The high points: Tilda Swinton was marvellous as the archangel Gabriel, Rachel Weisz looked like she actually believed her role, and Djimon Hounsou, as Papa Midnite, was the king of cool. The low: Hell is Los Angeles, only on fire. Really. I suppose that’s better than the cheap Nine Inch Nails video vision of Hell that was Event Horizon, but really, it was pretty lame. The half-skull demons were also rather less than intimidating. Aside from those two, the special effects ranged from pretty okay to really impressive. Of course, the impressive effects were all hiding in the background, so you had to be paying attention to see them. Reeves was, unsurprisingly, pretty wooden. The story was convoluted, and the dialogue often utterly vapid. Despite that, however, I kinda liked the movie. How often do you see a Hollywood action movie where the hero doesn’t walk off into the sunset with the girl?

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