Constantine DVD Review
PictureComing in with a beautifully composed anamorphic 2.40:1 image, Constantine looks terrific. Boasting wonderful colour separation with no hint of smearing or saturation, the palette runs from the earthy sepia tint of daylight to the shimmering cool blues of the nights. Sunlight intentionally appears sickly and the opening sequence when the Spear Of Destiny is discovered reveals a tremendous black level too, as demon-instructed hands reach into an dark-as-ink hole in the ground. Constantine's apartment benefits from great shadow-play as well, and when the lights go out for the demon-swoop in the street the encroaching blackness is very well rendered.
Detail is well-maintained with lots of background information throughout and a great flair revealed for intricate shots like the glass shards frozen in space and the fly-man attack. Hell, although a clichéd image, ripples with heat and sears the screen expertly. Skin-tones are spot on with Constantine appearing sicklier as the film goes on. But I did notice that once or twice there was a slight blurring around the eyes - particularly evident on Gabriel when we first get to meet her/it. And there is some edge-enhancement too which was, at times, quite evident.
Thankfully there is no sign of print damage, motion-trailing or artefacts whatsoever with an image that is clean and, for the most part, very sharp.
SoundWhat, no DTS? Actually, it doesn't really matter, as you'll hear for yourself, when the great Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gets to work immediately on the Warner Bros logo, violently crumbling it from left to right into the Vertigo Comics emblem with a real crackling aggression. The soundscape created is a very immersive, room-filling design that is precisely channelled to each specific speaker with clear intentions to dominate. Voices, people knocking on doors, the hubbub in Midnite's club - all superbly steered. The sub gets utilised to great effect too - feel that bone-crunching car-wreck pummel you at the start and then Angela's jeans commercial-inspired quick route through the walls of an office block. Great stuff. Listen out for the terrific sequence when Constantine and Angela are attacked on the street (“Wings and ... talons.”), a good system really has those streetlamps winking out behind you, in front of, then left and right with a nice sense of actually passing over your head. The only effect that I wasn't entirely satisfied with was the breaking of glass, which happens a lot in the movie. Here was a real chance to have those shards explode all around the room Flying Daggers style but, strangely, each time it happens it sounds restrained, with the glass never really zipping past your ears. Not a fault of the disc I'm sure, but it could have been way more detailed. Also cool is the vicious hiss of the Amityville screech-beetle which made my German Shepherd dog leave the room immediately.
Dialogue is never lost or swamped, either. The score by Brian Tyler and Hans Zimmer protégé Klaus Badelt is always forcefully presented and adds immensely to the offbeat, heady and Satanic brew of the film. All in all, a very strong and dynamic mix, indeed.
ExtrasThis review copy is the single-disc version that sits rather pathetically beside its stuffed-to-the-gills counterpart. Lacking everything from its buffed-up brother, the only offerings here apart from the Theatrical Trailer and a trio of other promos, are 18 minutes of Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending.
The Deleted Scenes carry an optional commentary from director Lawrence, which seems odd when you consider that his chat-track has been hacked from the main feature itself, and he explains that most of the material presented here was cut for pacing reasons. Some of this stuff is quite interesting - a whole character that was craftily edited out and some more scenes from Constantine's troubled past - but, in the main, these are merely scene extensions and slightly altered versions of what we see in the finished movie, most lasting between 60 and 90 seconds. The vermin-demon that attacks Constantine is shown with early visual effects work and quite clearly needed a fair bit of work. What is nice though, is the Alternate Ending that provides a fitting epitaph to one character who doesn't make it all the way through - but perhaps it was deemed a little too upbeat and optimistic to make the final cut.
The Double-Disc version comes with all the above plus a full commentary, documentaries and a whole heap of galleries. I think it is safe to assume which edition is the one to go for, if you are a fan of the movie.
VerdictA great slice of demon-bashing fun. Keanu Reeves does the job well as far as I'm concerned, and there are some terrific little set-pieces on offer. Constantine is hardly your run-of-the-mill hero and, as such, we should be thankful for a refreshingly downbeat and cynical approach to saving the day. Neo, he ain't.
The single-disc version is a disappointment, though. The AV quality is pretty impressive, but why settle for less, when if you are interested enough to buy the film in the first place, you can get so much more with the two-disc version. Still, with the balance of Heaven and Hell at stake, you've got to decide whether or not you give in to temptation.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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