A Peddler of Shabby Magic

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“There are worlds beyond ours…
parallel planes of existence…
entities among us.”
— John Constantine

Well, I had me a sneak peek at the pilot for Constantine. Probably not on the up and up, but then that’s fitting considering the source material. John’s a bit of a rule dodger, and a right foul and sodding git to boot… a petty dabbler of the dark arts, if he does say so himself (and he does).

So how does the episode play out? Let’s talk about the man at the center, first and foremost. The show will live or die based on the character of John Constantine, so how does Matt Ryan come off?

Quite well, actually. He’s got the look and swagger, to be sure. His accent’s not quite Liverpudlian, but it’s close enough for rock and roll. Overall I think they fairly well nailed his character faults and manipulative tendencies. As for the smoking, which the lack there of has been making the rounds on the web… well, considering network rules, I think they handled that as well as can be expected. He is seen drinking in a bar, snuffing out a fag, with his smokes and lighter prominent. Best we can hope for on that end, I suppose, and serves well enough.

CONSTANTINE

“You’re a sideshow attraction…
a peddler of shabby magic.
Your decisions are questionable
at best and without conscience.”
— Manny

The script could have used a bit of a tweak, methinks, but it’s a serviceable pilot, ably captained by Game of Thrones veteran Neil Marshall. Marshall does the most he can with the limited budget and fledgling outing for the cast. It put me in mind of Syfy’s Dresden Files in its best moments, which isn’t a bad thing.

As for the cast, I quite liked True Detective‘s Charles Halford as Chas. All but washed the bad taste of Shia LaBeouf from my mouth. True Blood‘s Lucy Griffiths was suitably doe-eyed and can see her grow into the role as she’s a driving part of the narrative. And the Angel Manny, played by Lost‘s Harold Perrineau is still too much of a cypher. He can go either way.

furcifer

All in all, the magic was solid and well represented. Hopefully they can dig deeper as the series finds its sea-legs. The square off at the end with the demon Furcifer was a tad cheesy, but that was due more to budget constraints than anything else. They need to not fall into the Supernatural trap. Write the stories with budget in mind. Don’t over reach. That said, the scene recapping the loss of Astra and the appearance of Nergal was bloody brilliant. I only wish the whole episode could have captured that same bit of magic.

Oh, and there was a nice little easter egg concerning a certain DC sorcerer that I quite liked. It right tickled my inner fanboy.

In the end, I enjoyed Constantine. As a long committed fan of Hellblazer, I was not disappointed. As an obsessive occult detective fanatic, I was thrilled.

There’s tons of potential here… and so far they’re pulling the proverbial rabbit from the hat.

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2 Responses to “A Peddler of Shabby Magic”

  1. I still believe I’d make a finer version ;)

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