Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Constantine: The Emperor: The Movie: The End

VEEE VILL SHTAAAHT with a story I wanted to tell on Monday. Constantine came up and it reminded me of this. But it warranted more than an aside, so I held onto it for later. Today is later. This particular story was cited by my old friend Geoff just last night, so I took it as a sign. I mean, shit...it's Constantine. Which I hate putting in italics over and over because I think that insults the dignity of italic characters everywhere. My handwriting is italic and illegible, so it seems appropriate to mention it in an italic and illogical discussion. And the pun was in italics. Pirate booyah (often articulated as "Yarrrrr").

I went with my college roommates to watch Constantine in the theater. We were running late and knew we'd miss the first 5 minutes. Nate Dogg was really fired up about the movie and got the rest of us similarly hot 'n' bothered. Yes, that's his name. If you've ever met him, you know. We got to the theater, bought our tickets, sat down...and had our MINDS BLOWN. There was so much crazy shit and special effects, and characters we didn't even know were getting killed, and then this crazy bitch comes down to stop Keanu Reeves from stabbing Rachel Weisz, whose name we didn't even know. Keanu Reeves was Constantine. We knew that. And holy crap, this was just the start of the movie! Imagine the rest of it: insane. Then Keanu Reeves is slitting his wrists and bleeding to death while he smokes a cigarette. He even stubs the butt out in his own blood pool. I've said it before, but don't watch Constantine.

Keanu's impending demise made two of our foursome (Geoff and I) realize that we weren't watching the beginning of this movie. We were watching the end. We'd walked into the wrong theater and not realized it because, being late, we expected the movie to already be playing! It wasn't remarkable that we'd seen no credits and gotten dumped into the action. It was remarkable that we considered the possibility of a post-Matrix Keanu actually appearing in the sort of brain-searing life-altering movie we'd extrapolated from the first 20 minutes (which were the last 20 minutes).

This was a serious bummer. We were on a tight schedule to get back to campus and couldn't make it through a full showing at this point. Maybe we could get our tickets refunded. But the biggest problem? Nate Dogg and Dave, the other two guys. We looked over and they were enraptured. They were so happy to be watching these pretty sweet things in a complete haze of sensory overload and confusion. Moreover, the rest of the movie had to be even more awesome! This was one of the high points of their recent lives. Could we take it away from them?
"What do we do?" I whispered to Geoff.
"Dude, Nate is gonna freak out if we tell him."
This was probably true. "But they're gonna find out soon! The credits will roll."
"Should we just wait it out?" he was right. We were on the same page.
"Ugh...yeah we should."
"I don't want to deal with Nate screaming WHAT?!? in a quiet theater."
I nodded. We waited.

The movie resolved itself. I won't go into it because I'd hate to ruin a completely retarded movie with spoilers. If it can't even offer its putrid stew of plot giblets, there's no product at all. Geoff and I kept nervously looking over at our compatriots, trying to gauge their reactions. Dave seemed confused. Nate looked very concerned, which was understandable because the final events of the movie were pretty somber. And then...fade to black. The credits started to roll. People were getting out of their seats and collecting their belongings. Nate Dogg was working through some stuff in his head, attempting to reconcile the awesome he'd just witnessed with the lame he found himself suddenly surrounded by. Finally:
"WHHAAATTT??!?" It was pretty damn loud. There was more yelling afterwards; I don't remember exactly what was said. Nate Dogg was upset. So was Dave, but Nate was demonstrative enough for both of them and Dave seemed satisfied with his rage.

We did get our money back, which calmed Nate down just enough to be trusted with the responsibility of driving back to campus. In the car on the way back, we had something of a revelation: this had actually been a positive experience. First, we had seen twenty-ish minutes of movie footage that was objectively pretty sweet. It was stupid too, but much like Dante's Inferno or a CW drama they provided just enough eye candy to keep you from having a stroke. We realized another thing: as odd as our journey had been, it was still objectively better than any alternative. Because our original plan, if executed correctly, would have led to approximately two hours of Constantine viewing. We would have had to endure the parts of the film that weren't over-the-top climactic action--and having seen the entirety of the movie since, those other scenes don't help it.

Did you know Gavin Rossdale, of former Bush and current Gwen-Stefani's-uterus fame, has a speaking role in the movie? It's true! We'd seen only the most awesome parts of this movie, and still came away with a sour taste in our mouths. Imagine how we'd have felt after a complete viewing. AND! We got our money back after all, so the entire experience cost only as much as gas. We'd seen a nonzero amount of entertaining film for a zero amount of money. And God dammit, in America that's something. Nate and Dave determined they'd have rather the movie was, in fact, only twenty minutes long and only comprised the footage we'd seen with maybe sixty seconds of pre-ownage exposition. You know, to introduce the characters. Because that's where the magic of the movies really happens.

Finally, because I mentioned CW shows (Classic Warner, formerly "the WB" back when people were actually calling things "the X" in earnest. Like the keyboard guitar, this was a slice of American culture we were happy to lay to rest. In case you aren't familiar, this was a network devoted to producing shows with the emotional range of a 2-minute Twilight trailer. They might charitably be described as over-wrought. At the same time, they are excellent in their own particular way. Just watch this actual footage from the actual show "One Tree Hill," which will not be receiving any fucking italics. I cannot emphasize enough: this show, and this scene in particular, were not produced or shot with any kind of irony or satire. Everything you are seeing is 100% effort, and you are expected to react to it in earnest. Enjoy. It is magnificent.

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