Constantine is a classic example of a movie that needs and uses special effects to carry the story forward; make it believable to an extent; and somewhat enhance the look of the movie and scenery of such that could not exist in real life. However, in any sort of SFX/VFX film there is the drawback that the special effects can hinder the movie and make it unrealistic. Because of the type of story being told in Constantine the film relies on the special effects to carry it forward. Even though one could suggest that the acting in the film is quite good, many other critics would suggest films like this rely more on the CG graphics to bring the film to life.

CG image

CG image

For actors and talent to act in a film with a lot of special effects, it takes a lot of skill to perform in scenes and shots, when sometimes they are the only one actually being filmed. The CG image is inserted through the post production stage and this means the actor must first and foremost be as believable as if they were acting with a real person.

Since Constantine is the genre that it is, the film required much work with green screen and VFX. Stunt work (where the man gets hit by the car at the beginning of the film), the colourising of the veins in actors, the distortion of faces in the exorcism, eyes changing colour, digitally enhanced faces, and morphing of characters are all very clear examples of visual effects used in the movie.

Demonised girl; coloured veins and demonised face

Demonised girl; coloured veins and demonised face

An even more clear example of the CG images is the bug man that fights with John near the gas station. When watching the behind the scenes part on the DVD we are shown how the creature is created and brought to life through SFX. The crew shot not only Keanu acting with a stand-in for the creature but also shot more footage of Keanu acting and basically fighting with himself. It is here that the actor is applauded in his talent to carry the scene, but without the CG images and SFX the scene would not be believable (who wants to see a guy fight mid air?!?!).

Bug man is just about to attack

Bug man is just about to attack in the background

If SFX is used properly and precisely it can work in synthesis with other parts of the film to enhance the look of the film and scenes. Though VFX has been used throughout the entire of the film it does not make it unbelievable but adds to the film in the sense that you think it is real. It makes you question yourself after you’ve watched the film in the sense that sometimes during the film you become unable to distinct what is CG and what is not. The SFX tricks you in a sense but that is the beauty of CG. As long as you can’t tell it’s CG then I think it works.

Everything stopped even broken glass except for Lucifer

Everything stopped even broken glass except for Lucifer

I recently watched the movie 21 (Blackjack MIT kids) and in the opening scene the shot is seamless, yet it uses two types of filming; one being shot in a helicopter; and one being shot on the road. You know that the shot can’t be shot all just in one medium yet the shot is seamless and fluid like running in from helicopter to the road shot. However if you look closely enough you can see that a transition occurs and the shot is actually digitalised to make a seamless shot (Pure genius!!). Like this other shots in Constantine like the stopping of time (broken glass stopped falling but the character keeps moving), and the changing from earth to hell all are such great work to make a great seamless fluid shot.


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