‘Constantine’ Blu-ray Review
‘Constantine’ is based off of the DC Comics/Vertigo character John Constantine from the ‘Hellblazer’ comic book. While the film isn’t based entirely on the comic books, there were changes made to the character’s origins. I never read the comic books, so going into this film I wasn’t as knowledgeable about the character’s past, except that changes were made to Americanize the film as originally he was of Britain descent. Many of the plot elements for the film were derived from Hellblazer ‘Dangerous Habits’ issues #41-46.The film did fine at the box office bringing in $230 million dollars worldwide, while having a $75 million dollar budget. On DVD, ‘Constantine’ would make more money on DVD proving that this could be a successful franchise.
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is a demon hunter/exorcist who can see half demons and half angels on Earth. These half-lings are the least of his problems, there is a greater power called the Mammon who is a full blooded demon that wants to get himself through Earth to wreak all Hell on Earth. Constantine has terminal lung cancer, so it is a fight to him taking out Mammon before the cancer takes him. As I mentioned the ‘Dangerous Habits’ storyline, this is the piece that is based off the comics story arc.
The film’s story begins with a Mexican guy searching through ruins in Mexico to find the ‘Spear of Destiny’. He becomes possessed by the super natural power of the spear which causes him to come to Los Angeles to wreak hell in the city of angels. Constantine is in Los Angeles, performing an exorcism of a young girl trying to pull out a demon as this thing puts on a hell of a fight with him. What would happen later on is that Constantine would meet L.A.P.D. Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), whose twin sister Isabel (Rachel Weisz) would commit suicide at the mental hospital that she was a resident. They would meet at the same hospital that her sister was being treated in as he was getting treatment for his lung cancer.
Then things shift to Constantine’s meeting with the angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) as he asks for God’s forgiveness and how can he get into Heaven. Gabriel tells Constantine that no matter how many good deeds that he does, he is only doing them for the reason to receive God’s forgiveness. Angela runs into the same problem with the Cardinal at the Catholic Church as she tries to have a funeral for her sister, but with the Catholic Church not believing in suicide her turns her down. This brings Angela and Constantine to align with each other against the forces of evil.
Many will argue that Keanu Reeves is a one dimensional actor, yet he continues to amaze me as he gets high profile parts. I think that Keanu does well with parts like this in ‘Constantine’ where there is more of a mix of action than dialogue. Rachel Weisz does an excellent job in both her parts, even though her part as Isabel is rather limited. Weisz has always been a good actress and as we saw her missing from Mummy 3, shows a detrimental piece that she was to the part of Brendan Frasier’s wife. I was rather disappointed that Tilda Swinton played the angel Gabriel, even though she does look the part of an angel. Couldn’t someone phone in the ultimate Gabriel, Christopher Walken for the role?
‘Constantine’ was originally released in high definition on HD DVD in 2006 and not on Blu-ray at the time due to the lack of Profile 1.1 features not being ready at that time. The print is presented in a 1080p/VC-1 encode with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The print looked absolutely stunning on HD DVD and the trend continues with the Blu-ray version of the film. I found the colors to pop off of the screen and very vibrant. These vibrant colors also help with the details in the film, as you see some of the most detailed aspects of the film come alive. Black colors are very strong and bold during the darker scenes with no loss of detail.
The audio is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix which is very excellent and engaging. The action sequences take advantage of the soundfield. From the opening sequence with the car crash, all the way through all the action sequences I felt very engaged by the soundfield as it was at work at all times. The sound effects from the rear speakers were quite impressive. Dialogue comes through the center channel very clear, except there are moments, especially the first 30 minutes of the film where it sounds like voice acting is coming from a concert hall. Also the dialogue part of the mix didn’t seem balanced to me quite right as it wasn’t as loud as I have heard other dialogue tracks. I have an issue with that as it just didn’t sound right with that kind of presentation. With the dialogue issue aside, I found the audio to be reference quality.
All of the SD-DVD and HD DVD special features have been ported over to the Blu-ray version of the film. While all the extras are in 480p, there is a wealth of Featurettes that will keep you busy for hours to go along with a wonderful PIP commentary with director Francis Lawrence.
- Conjuring Constantine Featurette
- Director Confessional Featurette
- Collision with Evil Featurette
- Hellscape Featurette
- Visualizing Vermin Featurette
- Warriors Wings Featurette
- Unholy Abduction Featurette
- Constantine Cosmology Featurette
- Foresight: The Power of Pre-Visualization Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Music Video
- Theatrical Trailer
- Picture-in-Picture w/ Director Francis Lawrence
- Digital Copy of the film for Itunes and WMP
I highly recommend ‘Constantine’ as a purchase and this is one of the better titles to finally hit Blu-ray after being on high definition HD DVD for 2 years. ‘Constantine’ presents an interesting story with a lot of action and reference quality picture and audio that is close to reference if it weren’t for a few small hiccups in the dialogue.
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