constantine’s saving grace

Finally saw “Constantine.” And you know, it wasn’t that bad a movie. Really.

But it’s better if you’ve never read the Hellblazer comic books and have no idea who the real John Constantine is (and I’m not just talking about his being a Brit but the different facets of his personality) as he was portrayed over the years.

Otherwise, part of you will be protesting that the character Keanu Reeves is portraying barely has anything in common with JC. And yes, banzai cat, I agree — that has to be one of the worst portrayals of onscreen smoking.

Still, I can say that “Constantine” was kind of entertaining, because the special effects were OK and the movie offered glimpses of the great flick it could have been (the mirror exorcism and some of the other scenes with the demons). But the main saving grace would have to be Gabriel and Lucifer.

The way they portrayed Gabriel was particularly noteworthy, and the frightening thing is that in real life, I believe a number of self-righteous religious fanatics would do what she/he/it planned to do. So yeah, even though the plot twist wasn’t particularly unexpected, this Gabriel was more interesting as a character than The Snob of Garth Ennis’ Hellblazer run.

And I guess that’s where “Constantine” failed to deliver even though it was a stylish flick and had its moments. Because the movie wasn’t really able to make Keanu’s Constantine or Rachel Weisz’s Angie and Isabel interesting characters — maybe it’s just me but I didn’t find myself empathizing with them.

Let me put it this way: Keanu’s a cool guy and he was great in “Speed” and the first Matrix flick, but whenever he’s on screen he’s Keanu, not whichever character he’s playing. That’s something I’ve come to expect, so I don’t blame him, but I do blame the filmmakers for casting him. And for some reason Rachel seems doomed to be an actress you don’t really care about, whichever flick she’s in — and having her and Keanu as the main characters acting out their strained non-relationship onscreen is really too much of a challenge for any film to hurdle.

What I don’t get with many flicks based on comic book characters is that filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to license a character that’s already had a following among comic book fans in order to get them as a captive audience, but at the same time they want to appeal to the mainstream public, so they change some things.

Which is fine: I don’t expect or want an exact movies to portray characters exactly as they are in comic books, because they’re different mediums. Things that work in the pages of a comic book would look ridiculous onscreen — think of having to see the exact comic-book looks of Green Goblin and Doc Ock on the big screen, or Wolvie’s real costume.

But to tamper this much with the character of John Constantine really takes the cake. Hell, they could have just named Keanu Jack Finkelstein and gone the whole action-I’m-trying-to-be-The-Matrix-except-with-demons-instead-of-a-thousand-stupid-annoying-Agent-Smiths route instead of mucking around with Hellblazer. It’s a pity, ‘coz this flick had style but just couldn’t make up its mind what kind of movie it was going to be.

John Constantine in the comics was one of the biggest bastards around, the guy you loved to hate because he was mostly a poor excuse for a human being who somehow ends up saving the world just the same. Not because he was some hero, but because he kept taking down the forces of evil for personal reasons. The kind of guy who had balls enough to say sod off to the Devil and spike his drink with Holy Water, and actually piss on the King of the Vampires. He had a lot more in common with the original character of Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before they made Spike a wuss.

Keanu’s character, on the other hand, is just a scowly-faced gumshoe depressed because he’s dying of lung cancer, who just so happens to have a gift (or curse) for seeing spirits and demons (“I can see dead people,” anyone?) and a knack for the occult.

And the only Conjob this film really offers is its futile attempt to make people believe that these two characters are one and the same.

more stories in itjourno

The Epitome column of ITJourno Asia again highlighted my stories and those of my fellow members of the INQ7 editorial team, Leo Magno, Erwin Oliva and Alex Villafania.

And yup, just as we say at, gaming is serious business.

RP boys and gals push the beat

Some great reports out of the Philippines today.

IT Matters’ Maricel Estavillo had one RP BPO player “close to buying a medical transcription (MT) company in India”, while at INQ7, Joey Alarilla had some gaming goss, following an announcement that Korea’s Webzen Inc. will enter the US market this year. Erwin Oliva then had the National Bureau of Investigations confiscating “about five million pesos worth of computer hardware from at least five computer shops”.

Joey Alarilla did a nice job highlighting why the “gold rush by Philippine companies to bring in foreign-made MMOGs” is endangering the nation’s software industry.

“It’s healthy competition to have so many publishers of MMOGs here. The sad fact, however, is that instead of supporting potential game developers here, the game publishers buy the MMOGs from abroad, and they can only do so much in customizing the game,” Alarilla had an RP gaming association head saying. Various gaming industry members were quoted as saying that the nation’s publishers and players and general gaming proponents must support local developers and entrepreneurs.

Finally, Alexander Villafania had a kinda disturbing piece on how the Senate President believes the country can get around the controversial “national ID system.”


Stories of the Day

MRT, LRT told to study possibility of 24-hour operations for call centres
By Jeffrey O. Valisno and Ana Barbara Lorenz, IT Matters
SPI to acquire Indian transcription firm
By Maricel Estvillo, IT Matters
Look beyond MMOGs, RP game publishers urged
By Joey Alarilla, INQ7

Lead of the day

“Micromanagers, multi-taskers, control freaks and obsessive-compulsive gamers unite! This devilishly cute and devilishly addictive game from Nintendo will keep you up till you get every last treasure and raise 10,000 pokos.”
From “He Got Game : Micromanage your way through Pikmin2” by Leo Magno, INQ7

5 minutes with itjourno

ITJourno Asia, the subscription-only trade site for Asian tech journalists, has been coming out every Friday with a “5 minutes with…” profile of different journos each week.

This Friday was my turn. Special thanks to Victoria Lea (who writes the Epitome column) and Sara Kim.

Nicole, I hope you’ll get to read this, hehe.

5 Minutes with Joey Alarilla
By Staff writers
25/02/2005 08:00:00 AM

He’s got a thing for Nicole Kidman, he’s ready for a mugging in New York, and he’s a self-confessed optimist. ITJourno has five minutes with the Philippines’ Joey Alarilla, columnist and editor at’s technology section, Infotech.

A stranger asks: What do you do?

I’m a contributing editor and Infotech columnist for online news company I’ve been working for them for over four years now, since I was part of the team of guinea pigs – oops, I mean, pioneers – who had the exciting task of helping set it up.

I churn out a weekly gaming column, edit our site for the youth and another one for Filipino expats, and write tech news and features and PC and videogame reviews, as well as occasional lifestyle, entertainment and business feature pieces.

I’ve been telecommuting for almost two years now so that I can work while helping take care of my now three-year-old daughter. And pardon the shameless plug, but an essay I wrote about my telecommuting experience won third prize last year in the English category of the Don Carlos Palanca Awards, the most prestigious literary competition in the Philippines.

First break into journalism?

I started out as a staff writer for the first Philippine IT trade publication, Metropolitan Computer Times, and later on also wrote for PCWeek Philippines when they got the license from Ziff-Davis.

Why journalism?

I guess I’ve always had a knack for writing, and I’ve always been interested in technology. I like being a tech journalist because we can make more people aware of the benefits of technology and help them understand how it’s changing the way we work and play.

Dream person to interview?

Does it have to be someone in IT? Because I’d rather live out my fantasy and interview Nicole Kidman.

Most tiresome thing about being a tech reporter?

Waiting for the changes we’ve been writing about for years to become a reality.

I mean, in an ideal world, everyone on this planet would have broadband and every home would have a PC or other device to keep us connected to the Internet.

Still, we’ve come a long way in the past few years, so I’m still an optimist when it comes to technology.

Who holds the balance of power in tech journalism in Asia – the
vendors or the media?

We journalists do, because we only answer to our readers. (OK, some of us may also answer to grumpy editors). At the end of the day, we’ll write a story the way it needs to be told.

Microsoft, Apple and Red Hat all call you up on the same day, offering you the same salary, for just slightly varying degrees of your ideal job. Which one do you take?

Hmm, I think I’d wait for Google to call.

London, New York or Hong Kong… Where would you choose?

New York! Sure, I’ll probably get mugged, but I’ve always seen New York as larger than life and the real capital of America. Hey, how come you didn’t include Singapore?

Favourite restaurant in your city of residence?

That would be a toss-up up between Han Pao, a Chinese restaurant, and Persia House, now known as Mr. Kebab. They’re not the kind of restaurants you’d go to in order to impress someone, but usually you’ll find the best food in somewhat seedy places.

Flowers or chocolate… what’s the way to a girl’s heart?

I’d say chocolate, but then again I love chocolate and would probably end up eating some of it as well.

Best way for PR to contact you?

Their best bet would be to e-mail me. They could also try calling me up or send me SMS. I don’t like snail mail.

Joey Alarilla is based in the Philippines. He can be reached at, or through his website The Babel Machine at

webzen enters us market

Yup, those South Korean giants are out to take over the US online gaming market. First NCsoft with City of Heroes and the highly anticipated Guild Wars, and now Webzen.

Webzen, best known to Filipinos as the developer of MU — which is distributed in the Philippines by — will set up a US office this year and unveil its US product lineup at E3 in May.

Webzen CEO Kim Nam Joo talked to to discuss the company’s US expansion.