Constantine Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 1080p transfer that has been VC-1 encoded. A very good picture with terrific detail, colour and blacks, marred by some slight softening occasionally.
Let's have a closer look at the detail which for the most part is excellent; skin detail reveals pores, hair follicles and a glisten to the eyes; moving to middle distance which is equally as good, street signs are clear and distinct, the bottles of drink have easily readable labels and the general hubbub behind the bowling ally is definite. Although the film rarely uses far distance, and when it does it's generally computer generated there is still plenty to see all with distinct edges. Unfortunately the image does soften on occasion, it's nothing dramatic but should be noted.
Colours are strong and vibrant, the pallet is generally warm giving some strong reds and oranges that neither wash nor bleed, but blues and greens also far equally well; look again behind the bowling ally with the myriad of different coloured bottles all looking lush and bold.
Brightness is set to give some incredible blacks and plenty of frame depth which is so necessary with a film as dark as this. There is still shadow detail within the dark shown up in both Hell and on Earth. Contrast is set to give decent whites with no boosting.
There is little of the 3D pop associated with the best transfers but this is still an excellent transfer. Digitally there were no compression problems but there was a whisper of edge enhancement in the desert scenes. There was no original print damage and only a light smattering of grain to give that filmic look. On the whole this is an excellent picture, although it doesn't quite match up to the best of the best there is very little to disappoint.
No less than eight sound tracks to choose from; English, French (Parisian & Quebec), Spanish (Castilian), German and Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Spanish (Latin) Dolby Digital 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; I concentrate on the latter. The track makes full use of the surround and LF effects and comes across as a decent and aggressive experience. There are plenty of excuses to place you in the centre of the sound field from the ambience of city streets or wind swept deserts to the excursions into Hell, all are peppered with surround effects, discreet or otherwise to really add weight and presence; when in Hell the mix is horrific - but in a good way!
There is a full range and plenty of bass although it's not quiet a deep as some of the best out there, and though the LF effects are layered through out there isn't the full on presence one might expect. Dialogue however is very natural sounding and firmly anchored to the centre. The score also comes across well utilising all the speakers. In all it is a very good sound track well detailed and dynamic, but it's not quite up there with the very best, not any more.
- Audio commentary
With director Francis Lawrence and producer Akiva Goldsman is a reasonably easy listen to, without many gaps. It's quite technical in places, which is good and the discussion takes in plenty of behind the scenes thoughts, designs, thematic persuasions and differences between the source material and the film.
- Audio Commentary
The second commentary is with screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello who, being writers, take a slightly different look at things, makes for a very engaging talk. Plenty of discussion on the various drafts of the scripts here and difference between the original comic and they way the film ended up. Of the two this one is the better listen even if it does contain the more gaps and does overlap in places.
Some ninty minutes of featurettes that cover everything you need to know about the making of the film. From their titles, Channelling Constantine, Conjuring Constantine, The Production From Hell, Director Confessional, Collision with Evil, Holy Relics, Shotgun Shootout, Hellscape, Visualizing Vermin, Warriors Wings, Unholy Abduction, Constantine's Cosmology, Foresight: The Power of Pre-Visualization (with or without directors commentary), Demon Face, Writer's Vision, it is easy to see what each contains and even though its covered in a rather back slappy, entertainment channel promo way there is plenty to get your teeth into if you persevere. One thing there is no play all function meaning each one has to be watched individually, so whilst that might not sound like much it is actually rather a pain to keep going back to the menu.
- Deleted scenes
Fourteen scenes, some new, some extensions, run for approximately eighteen minutes can be watched with or without a commentary from Francis Lawrence. Most were excised for pacing, as is the norm but its good to see them all included here especially Ellie the half-demon played by Michelle Monaghan, as this would have aimed the film in a slightly different direction.
- Music Video
Passive by A Perfect Circle
Theatrical and teaser trailers
- Picture in Picture
Several picture pop ups, sometimes at the same time, demonstrating behind the scenes filming, effects and stunt work as well as interviews with cast and crew. As PiP goes, this was an early effort and it shows being somewhat muddled and uneven in its distribution, sometimes with no information for minutes at a time. Thankfully things have improved, but as it goes this is not that bad an effort and as a one stop behind the scenes look this is probably the best option on the set. Profile 1.1 needed to view.
In all an excellent selection of extras covering all the aspects you want covered, it's just their execution that could have used some finesse - the complete lack of HD picture and lack of usability makes for a frustrating time and on this next gen format really isn't good enough.
As a comic book adaptation Constantine may not be particularly faithful in terms of characters or location but at least the spirit is there. With an obvious appreciation of the source material director Francis Lawrence maintains a credible threat and believable world and secures decent performances from all his actors. Don't come expecting a horror because, although the themes are there, it's very much in the thriller vein and a world where good an evil are angels and demons whispering their ideas is one of terrific abandon.
As a Blu-ray package Warner provide excellent picture and sound and back it up with a hugely expansive, if slightly ill thought out, extras package. A year ago this would have been top notch, now it's been knocked off by some exceptional discs; still a terrific buy but a shade away from the best there is.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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- Audio commentary