Monday, August 31, 2015

My Review of Constantine's 1x01: "Non Est Asylum"

Written by Daniel Cerone And David S. Goyer
Directed by Neil Marshall

Constantine (to himself): "My name is John Constantine and I'm an exorcist. In my line of work, there are days you need to forget but some you never will."

With all the DC shows that came out over the last twelve months, Constantine (as well as iZombie) was one that somewhat slipped my radar a bit but with the title character slated to appear in Arrow rather shortly, I thought I'd get up to speed on this shortlived NBC show before the episode in question and for a pilot episode, this was pretty fine.

Unlike Keanu Reeves in that 2005 movie of the same name, it took less than five minutes to actually believe in Matt Ryan as Constantine, which was a good start. Visually he looks the part so much and unlike Reeves, he actually embodies it as well, which almost the cancellation something of a disappointment.

The opening story itself is pretty straightforward with Constantine checking himself into an asylum, exorcising a demon only then to go out of his way to protect Liv Aberdine from a particularly nasty demon named Furcifer who also managed to toy with Constantine's guilt over the loss of a little girl named Astra but at the end of the confrontation, it was Liv who was able to spur Constantine into defeating the demon once and for all.

It's kind of a shame though that this was the first and only episode to actually feature Liv. I thought the character worked pretty well with Constantine and it was nice to see her reaction to both his powers, his friends and the growing powers of her own but Constantine's own manipulations more or less spelled the end for the character before she could properly begin to be honest.

The pilot episode had a lot to achieve and managed to do it well enough. Along with two different demon battles/exorcisms, we were given enough insight into Constantine's history with the occult as well as his allies in taxi driver Chas and estranged Newcastle mate Ritchie along with the arrival of angel Manny for good measure. Not to mention the rather glorious hints of bigger things to come as well.

- Though we didn't see it, Constantine's chain smoking will be a thing in the series. However the exploration of the character's bisexuality might not be - boo.
- Some nice little Easter Eggs in that cabin - including Doctor Fate's helmet, Pandora's Box, the Ibisick, Eclipso's Black Diamond and so on. There was even a Zatanna reference too.
- The episode's title is latin for "there is no asylum".
- It's nice that we got an opening shot of the character in Northern England, even if it was him in an asylum at the time.

A strong enough opening episode. "Non Est Asylum" played homage to enough of the comics while at the same time managing not to alienate those (including myself to a point) not heavily versed in them either. The show might have gotten a little overshadowed by both Gotham and The Flash (despite having more ratings than the latter) but it was a pretty solid opening episode, though more trippiness could be needed to make it stand out a bit more.

Rating: 7 out of 10


noybusiness said...

I was really disappointed by the Constantine cancellation. It was a good show, Matt Ryan *was* the character (I've read a lot of the Hellblazer comics), and it fit perfectly with Grimm on the same night. Although they got the pronunciation of his last name wrong, like the movie, probably for the American audience (he himself says in the comic that it rhymes with "fine", as opposed to "feen"). I'm glad he's appearing in Arrow.

shawnlunn2002 said...

So far it's enjoyable enough and I am looking forward to the character appearing in Arrow soon.