November 4, 2014 Constantine – Non Est Asylum (Episode One Review)
Based on the Hellblazer Comic Book, run by DC Comics, John Constantine found his way into the movies with 2005’s Warner Brothers film that featured an all-star cast. Starring Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin 2013, John Wick 2014) and Rachel Weisz (The Lobster 2014, Idol’s Eye 2015), fans have long awaited a sequel, which unfortunately has not made its way into reality yet. However, viewers have a chance to get reconnected with John Constantine in the new television series on NBC launched October 24th. To recap the movie, John Constantine is a very talented but troubled man. Since he was young, he has had the ability to see both worlds, the good and the evil, and the creatures that dwell therein. To appease God, he sends demons and the occasional ‘half breed’ back to hell, a place he is likely to end up after trying to kill himself when he was a teenager.
Written by Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist, Dexter), David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight 2008, Man of Steel 2013), Carly Wray (Mad Men 2013), Jamie Delano (Constantine 2005), Garth Ennis (Constantine 2005, The Darkness 2007), Alan Moore (Jimmy’s End 2012, His Heavy Heart 2014), and Directed by T.J. Scott (E.M.S 2014, Death Valley 2014), Romeo Tirone (Mind Games 2014, Once Upon a Time), Nick Gomez (Unforgettable 2014, Chicago P.D. 2014), Neil Marshall (Doomsday 2008, Centurion 2010), Constantine the series has been a long time coming. Set in England, the series begins with the episode entitled Non Est Asylum where John Constantine is receiving shock therapy in a mental hospital he has volunteered to be in. Rather than having to appease God because he tried to kill himself, in the series Constantine was involved in an exorcism of a young girl named Astra. It went terribly wrong, ending with Astra being damned for eternity with the demon Nergaal, unless someone saves her. Played by Matt Ryan (Flypaper 2011, Assassin’s Creed IV 2013) Constantine receives a disturbing message from within the hospital, thrusting him back into the world stated on his business card “Exorcist, Demonologist, and Master of the Dark Arts.” He is compelled to go to travel to Atlanta Georgia where he meets a young lady named Liv Aberdine (The Numbers Station 2013, Winter’s Tale 2014).
Liv, like her father before her, Jasper, has a unique gift, being able to see and communicate with the dead, and scry for trouble. Liv is being pursued by something dark and evil, and without Constantine, she may not survive. Constantine is accompanied on his journeys in a taxi cab, like the movie and comic, with his friend Chas (Charles Halford: Agents of Shield, Small Time 2014 ), who is markedly older than Shia LaBeouf’s (Nymphomaniac 2013, Fury 2014) character from the full-length film. Constantine is also aided in the film by an Angel named Manny (Harold Perrineau: Growing up Fisher 2014, Sabotage 2014) who, while helping John, seems to have his own motivations that are yet to be revealed.
There are other differences in the series aside from Constantine being English, and Chas being older. John does not smoke, nor does he have lung cancer, he is more cynical and sarcastic, and the characters’ history and timeline is different. This does not make it bad however, and there is some enjoyment in watching episode one. The special effects are a little jolted and out of place, and Matt Ryan has a tendency to overact in scenes that calls for more restraint. In time, the series will likely find its feet, and pick up momentum as it builds suspenseful towards an explosive end. It is worth watching to see where it goes with the development of the characters, perhaps some more background from Constantine’s youth, and the doomed Astra, who is sure to have an integral part in the finale. CrypticRock gives Non Est Asylum 2 out of 5 stars.