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Constantine: City of Demons (2018)

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 10/9/2018

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/12/2018

If we are giving out As for effort, then Warner Bros. certainly deserves one for attempting to make John Constantine a part of the zeitgeist. The character first appeared in DC Comics in 1984 and developed a cult following, which continued into his own series, Hellblazer, which has been published off-and-on for three decades. In 2005, Warner made a feature film of the famous British occult detective with Keanu Reeves in the starring role. While the film had some cool visuals, it goes without saying that fans weren't thrilled with how it steered away form the source materials. A more faithful version of the character, essayed by actor Matt Ryan, was brought to television in 2014 with Constantine, a show which lasted only 13 episodes. So, this character jumped to Legends of Tomorrow (on another network!). Now, we are getting an animated Constantine (following an appearance in Justice League Dark) with Constantine: City of Demons.

John Constantine (voiced by Ryan) is approached by his old friend, Chas Chandler (voiced by Damian O'Hare), whom he has not seen in years. Chas' daughter, Trish, has fallen into a mysterious coma, and he's desperate for help. Constantine visits Trish's hospital room, despite her mother's (Emily O'Brien) protests, and immediately senses a supernatural presence, and receives a strange message. Summoning Nightmare Nurse (voiced by Laura Bailey) to watch over Trish, Constantine and Chas travel to Los Angeles. Once there, Constantine finds that demons are everywhere, and one in particular claims to have Trish's soul. Constantine is offered a deal to free Trish, but can he trust these demons?

For most viewers, their idea of John Constantine is what they got from the 2005 film. That incarnation offered a quasi-accurate portrayal of the character from the comics. That delivered a hard-boiled detective type who is haunted by his past, always wears a suit, and chain-smokes, all the while investigating the paranormal. The parts that they left out are that Constantine is British, has blonde-hair, and has a lot of connections within the horror-based DC Comics universe. In the world of animation, Justice League Dark offered a portrayal with fell more in-line with the comics, and things are taken ever further with Constantine: City of Demons, which offers a story which could have been taken directly from the four-color panels.

If only that story was told with any sort of gusto. In short, Constantine: City of Demons is boring. The movie offers an interesting, if not somewhat uninspired, story, but the pacing here is so incredibly slack that it's very difficult to get engrossed into the movie. To be fair, the opening is well-done, as we watch Constantine meet with Chas and then bring in Nightmare Nurse (who does her costuming?). But, once they go to Los Angeles, not only does the story become needlessly cumbersome, but things slow to a crawl. We simply watch Constantine go from one location to another, where he meets one odd demon after another. And, at one point, he has sex with an entire city. Yeh, I don't get it either.

Some viewers will walk away from Constantine: City of Demons feeling somewhat satisfied, as the dark ending is certainly memorable, and kudos to the film for having the guts to go with such a down finale. However, that doesn't make up for how challenging the rest of the movie is. The film doesn't get any help from the lackluster animation. As with many DC Comics direct-to-video animated features, we get a quasi-anime look here. But, the animation in Constantine: City of Demons is decidedly low-rent looking, with a notable lack of movement at times and a definite want for detail. John Constantine is certainly an intriguing character and he deserves a better movie than this.

Constantine: City of Demons does have an impressive moment involvement old movies on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 80 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. As noted above, the animation here does not impress and that may be a side-effect of this highly-detailed transfer. The colors in movie are muted, but they look fine, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works fine, giving the animation a multi-plane look at times. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences deliver impressive subwoofer effects, as well as detailed surround effects. These surround effects blend nicely with the front-channel stereo action, allowing the sound to move from back-to-front seamlessly.

The special features for Constantine: City of Demons are found on the Blu-ray Disc included here. "The Sorcerer's Occultist: Understanding John Constantine" (14 minutes) is sort of an odd featurette, as it examines the Constantine character, through comments about his appearance and demeanor, but there is also a serious discussion of magical and ritual here, with a look at how these ideas are woven in to the film. Occult Expert and Author Jason Louv brings his unique view to this conversation, pointing out how Constantine using specific forms of magic. "Constantine: City of Demons WonderCon Panel -- 2018" (21 minutes) features Ryan, Peter Girardi and JM DeMatteis, who, following a screening of the film, discuss the project.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long