Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on August 19th, 2005
I’ll bet the script to this film read like a dream. The Exorcist meets Hellboy meets The Mummy. Surely this is the ideal vehicle for Keanu Reeves following his three picture run on The Matrix. Sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it is. Now, there is a lot that is admirable in this film. For example, the acting, which is is far above the tired bar set by most modern action/sci-fi flicks. Furthermore, the special effects in Constantineare simply fantastic. In fact, I would go so…far as to say that they are some of the most amazing special effects I have ever seen. These are effects so amazing that they actually help to convey the story on their own. It is one thing to hear people describe hell, it is quite another to experience it firsthand through a special effect.
It is a shame that for all of the hard work and thought that went into this film, the end result is so disappointing. The film starts off with such promise. Why must it go downhill? The simple answer is that brilliant visuals can’t cover a script that has been dumbed down to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the summer blockbuster movie going pantheon. This could easily have been one of the best comic book films of all time. I am just so disappointed by the potential that was squandered in this production.
This disc carries with it a full-on big budget Hollywood action movie soundtrack. The track is dynamic, with great low end. Sounds move accurately through space and around the room, anchored to their sources on the screen. The problem is, the dialog is really low in the mix, which makes the loud sound effects very, very loud.
Dialog levels aside, this film includes a powerful score and great sound effects, resulting in a very effective and engaging soundtrack. It is just a shame that the film doesn’t have anything better to say.
The video quality is pretty good, but there are some jagged edges. Color is used to good effect, with entire sequences devoted to particular tints, to illicit certain moods from the audience. Grain is virtually non-existent, as are film blemishes and artifacts. Black levels are great, which is vital to a film such as this one. This is a really clean transfer, and if it weren’t for the nagging jaggies, this would be an absolutely fantastic presentation.
This film was released in three versions; the lame single disc full screen version, the perfectly adequate single disc widescreen version, and this super-deluxe two disc version with bonus comic book. All versions of this film include the film’s trailer and eighteen minutes of deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) with optional commentary. This is where the similarities end, however. The big time version of this release adds a slew of additional extras.
First up is a commentary track that, while having some good things to say from time to time, is actually much more annoying than informative. This is not a live track, but one that has been edited together from a number of separate recordings. Conjuring Constantine is a documentary piece that focuses on the genesis of the film, including the character’s roots in comics, the script, casting and the shoot. The Production from Hell is a section that includes an interview with the director, an examination of one of the special effects from the opening of the film, and a look at the props used. The next section, Imagining the Underworld, includes sections on location and set design, creature effects, the angel wings effects and an examination of the “sucked through walls” sequence from the climax of the film. Finally, Constantine Cosmology is a documentary feature that discusses the religious and philosophical questions examined in the film. There really is a large amount of information included on this disc.
In addition to all of this, there is also a pre-visualization segment with optional Director’s commentary, and the aforementioned slate of deleted scenes.
This disc has everything going for it but the film itself. As strong as it starts off, it is a real shame that the last half of the film tanks as quickly as it does. However, if you are a fan of this flick, the choice of which version of the DVD to buy is obvious. A slew of extras, a nice soundtrack and video transfer, and a bonus comic make this one a dream buy for extras lovers.
Special Features List
- Trailers for Blade III, Seinfeld Season Four, Alexander, A Scanner Darkly
- Teaser and trailer for Constantine
- Commentary by Director Francis Lawrence, Producer Akiva Goldsman and Screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Capella
- A Perfect Circle
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Ending
- 10 Featurettes
- 2 Galleries
- DVD-ROM Content
- Collectible Comic Book