‘Constantine: City of Demons’ 4K UHD Review
Hellblazer has sat as a popular comic in the DC universe for some time. Because of which, the publisher has frequently tried to bring the character to screens, both big and small. It started with the 2005 feature film, Constantine, where Keanu Reeves was tasked with capturing the spirit of the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, drunk of a supernatural detective. His performance was solid, the film was well received, but he honestly was not the character from the comics.
DC continued the attempts by putting Matt Ryan, a near perfect John Constantine, on network television. Although Ryan captured him brilliantly, the aforementioned behaviors are not network television suitable and therefore the series did not make it out of the first season. But it seemed that fans still want(ed) Ryan as Constantine as he began making cameos in the CW series, now a constant in Heroes of Tomorrow, and has become the voice of the character in the animated features the sorcerer can be found in. Including the latest, Constantine: City of Demons.
Constantine: City of Demons follows a much darker path and deeper dive into Hellblazer than we’ve seen so far in any of the adapted materials. His role in Justice League Dark was fantastic, but as great as it was, the movie was still light enough the rest of DC could play ball as well. City of Demons is not a world where Batman or even Zatanna can coexist, as it is dark, gritty, and full of violent gore.
Based on the story arc from Hellblazer: All His Engines, Constantine: City of Demons was released online as a series of animated shorts, and the collected with additional footage for a full WB animated release. The story follows Constantine as he must recover his friend’s daughter’s soul while wrestling with his own demons, both literally and figuratively.
Constantine: City of Demons is a dark, dark, and dark animated feature. Not seeing the animated shorts, I am not even certain how they were released online without any rating guidelines, but then again I don’t know the laws governing those types of things. From the opening, there is an expected level of adult behavior from Constantine, a to-be-expected amount of violence, and an unneeded amount of gore. People with weak stomachs may not be able to handle it even though it is animation, as demons are shown torturing poor souls, bathing in dead bodies, and destroying each other.
The violence and gore does not take away from the story, although All His Engines was never one of my favorites. It’s a predictable and shallow story that carries on for some time. But even with those shortcomings it has a strong ending and meaningful resolution.
The movie is helped by Ryan remaining the voice of Constantine. As noted earlier, he is perfectly cast and continues to show that with his ability to capture the character even through only voice. The supporting cast was well rounded and delivered what I would consider strong performances, specifically Laura Bailey as Asa and Jim Meskimen as Beroul.
Overall it’s what you would expect from the straight to home video animated features. Which is good, as DC and Warner Bros. has yet to really let us down on one of these releases. But expect much more from that earned R rating than any of the previous animated films featuring the rest of the DC heroes.
4K VIDEO PRESENTATION
I have a solid set of 4K UHD titles building since I made the switch to the currently highest of resolutions, but Constantine: City of Demons is the first animated feature from DC and Warner Bros. I have seen on this format. The 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encode is about what I was expecting from Warner, with the 1080p animated presentation being fantastic and the 4K being an upconversion. The 4K video is slightly improved, but comparing it to the Blu-ray, I did not see a huge difference.
Saying that, I will say over all it is still a very pleasing presentation. Constantine: City of Demons looks good, and considering how dark the film is, that’s not an easy task. Shadows hold up, colors look true, and there are no signs of issue in the animation. Overall, the video quality is pleasing.
Constantine: City of Demons comes to both Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray with the same DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, as the change in video format hasn’t pushed the audio further. The track is good overall, but does have it’s issues. The bass can be a bit strong from music and action sequences, making lighter dialogue harder to hear at times. But the balance of the track is strong, with all the surround sound speakers being used appropriately.
As with almost all current 4K Blu-ray releases, even beyond DC animations, the set includes a Blu-ray copy of the movie where you can find the extras. It will probably be sometime before 4K extra features become a thing.
On the Blu-ray you can find…
- The Sorcerer’s Occultist: Understanding John Constantine
- Constantine: City of Demons WonderCon Panel—2018
- DC Animated Trailers: The Death of Superman, Batman Ninja, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay
I am a huge fan of what DC and Warner Bros. are doing with their animated features. Although Constantine: City of Demons, isn’t at the top of my list, it’s still good and comes from some great material. The video and audio are strong, so if you have an excuse to go 4K go for it. If not, the Blu-ray will more than suffice. Either way, DC fans should enjoy this dark, gritty thriller.
Great for Fans
- Movie Overall
- Video Presentation
- Audio Presentation
- Extra Features
A decade after a tragic mistake, family man Chas and occult detective John Constantine set out to cure Chas’s daughter Trish from a mysterious supernatural coma. With the help of the mysterious Nightmare Nurse, the influential Queen of Angels, and brutal Aztec God Mictlantecuhtli, the pair just might have a chance at outsmarting the demon Beroul to save Trish’s soul.