Constantine appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No real problems emerged in this solid transfer.
From start to finish, sharpness seemed very positive. Even wide shots came across as tight and concise. I noticed no soft or ill-defined elements here. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and only a sliver of edge enhancement was apparent. Source flaws seemed absent, as I saw no kinds of defects.
I expected a stylized palette from Constantine, and that’s what I got, though not as severe or over the top as often found in this sort of flick. The colors stayed low-key, as the movie went with somewhat desaturated tones much of the time. We got occasional golden tints, blues, and an almost Matrix-like green dependent on the circumstances. These all worked fine for the film, as they fit the production design and seemed appropriately clear.
Given the movie’s darkness, blacks and shadows became important. Dark tones looked nicely deep and firm, while low-light images were easily visible and not too dense. I found little about which to complain in this strong image.
I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Constantine. With all its demonic activity, the movie offered many opportunities for the soundfield to kick into high gear, and it took good advantage of these. In addition to solid stereo imaging for the score, the effects were accurately placed and meshed together smoothly. Various elements connected to the demons zipped and flew around the room, and the rear speakers offered strong delineation and involvement. All of these combined to make the soundfield vivid and engrossing.
Audio quality always kept up its side of the bargain as well. Dialogue came across as concise and natural, with no signs of intelligibility issues or edginess. Music was rich and full, and effects demonstrated fine clarity. Those elements were tight and dynamic, and the whole package showed fine dimensionality. All in all, the mix worked well for the movie and accentuated the action.
This two-DVD package includes a good roster of extras. On Disc One, we start with an audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence, producer Akiva Goldsman and screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Capello. This splits into pairs. Lawrence and Goldsman sit together for one screen-specific chat, while Brodbin and Capello provide the other. The commentary edits the two together for one reasonably seamless package.
And a reasonably lively and informative one at that. Story and character issues dominate. We learn about deleted and altered scenes, adaptation topics, and various plot and personality concerns. In addition, we get some information about casting, locations, effects, visual design, and general production data. The writers provide the strongest data, especially since Goldsman tends to get silly at times. Nonetheless, the whole thing coalesces into a useful discussion.
Next we find a Music Video for “Passive” by A Perfect Circle. This combines the usual collection of movie clips with some heavily stylized shots of the band. It’s more interesting visually than most of these kinds of videos, but it’s not exactly fascinating.
The first platter ends with two trailers for Constantine. In addition, DVD One opens with ads for Alexander, Blade: Trinity, A Scanner Darkly and Seinfeld Season Four.
From here we head to Disc Two and its collection of 14 Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of 17 minutes and 40 seconds. Some of these offer alternate versions of existing segments, but mostly we see new footage, including two different attempts to make the character of Ellie the sexy demon work and some other clips with her. Mainly we get minor expository material from the cut scenes. We can watch these with or without commentary from Lawrence. He provides solid notes about each sequence and makes sure we know why he axed all of them.
For the 15-minute and 35-second Conjuring Constantine featurette, we find the usual set of movie snippets, archival materials, and interviews. The latter include comments from Lawrence, Goldsman, Brodbin, Capello, producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Michael E. Uslan, Vertigo Comics executive editor/VP Karen Berger, Hellblazer writer Jamie Delano, DC Comics president/publisher Paul Levitz, and actors Rachel Weisz and Keanu Reeves. They discuss facts about the source material, the comic’s path to the screen and adaptation issues, story and character topics, choosing a director, and casting and the various roles. The program ends a bit abruptly, but it goes through the project’s basics well. It avoids too much filler and sticks with the facts to become a tight, informative show.
Three pieces show up in a “Documentary Gallery” called “The Production From Hell”. Director’s Confessional runs five minutes, 32 seconds as Lawrence compares making movies to shooting music videos and also discusses his experiences as a first-time feature director. He repeats some information from the commentary, but mostly he presents fresh notes here. I especially like his remarks about the learning curve required in his jump from videos.
Next we find the four-minute and 35-second Collision with Evil. It offers statements from Lawrence as we learn about the film’s opening sequence. It emphasizes the car crash shot as we see how they filmed it. Despite this myopic focus, the program proves valuable since we get a nice examination of the stunt.
”Production” ends with Holy Relics, an eight-minute and 18-second featurette. We hear more from Lawrence plus Reeves, production design Naomi Shohan and property master Kirk Corwin as they discuss some of the movie’s props. The show gets into the props featured in the flick. These range from the Spear of Destiny down to Constantine’s cigarettes. The show offers a fun close-up look at the pieces.
Another “Documentary Gallery” entitled “Imagining the Underworld” follows with its four clips. Hellscape goes for 11 minutes, 55 seconds and includes remarks from Lawrence, Shohan, visual effects supervisor Michael Fink, Tippett Studios visual effects supervisor Craig Hayes, lead animator Simon Allen, CG supervisor David DeBry and lead compositor Matt Jacobs. We learn about the design influences on the movie’s representation of hell and all the elements that went into its execution as well as the demons. This adds up to another tight and informative show.
After this comes Visualizing Vermin, a nine-minute and 32-second piece. It presents notes from Lawrence, Fink, lead effects artist Adam Martinez, and visual effects supervisors George Murphy and Greg Juby. As one might expect, this show concentrates on the Vermin Man sequence. We learn about his design and related issues. It offers a concise exploration of the effects challenges and other issues created by the character.
Warrior Wings runs three minutes, 15 seconds and features remarks from Fink, Lawrence, Murphy, and Juby. As the title implies, it goes over the look and creation of angels’ wings in the film. It’s not a great piece, but it delivers the basics fairly well.
We finish “Underworld” with the five-minute and 45-second Unholy Abduction. It includes info from Lawrence, Fink, Weisz, and stunt coordinator RA Rondell. This looks at the scene in which Angela gets yanked through the walls of an office building. The shots from the set are the best part of this piece, as they give us a great look at the practical stunts and effects.
Constantine Cosmology gives us a five-minute and 20-second chat with author Phil Cousineau. He looks at the literary base for heroes and takes a particular look at how John Constantine fits that mold. It’s too short to be substantial, but it comes across as thoughtful and intriguing.
The last program comes from Foresight: The Power of Previsualization. This shows 13 minutes and 50 seconds of previsualized sequences, with or without commentary from Lawrence. We watch the final film on top and the previs shots on the bottom. These allow for a good comparison for nine scenes. In addition, we get to check out three “abandoned scenes”. Lawrence lets us know how he used previs both in general and in specific.
Some Easter Eggs appear. First, click to the right from “The Production from Hell” on the main menu. This allows us to access a 74-second animatic created by writer Capello. He narrates this to let us know when and why he made it. This offers an interesting footnote.
Within the “Hell” area, click left from the “Main Menu” listing. This opens a two-minute featurette with stunt coordinator RA Rondell about the choreography of one sequence. Under “Imagining the Underworld”, head right from “Hellscape” to get into a one-minute, 56-second piece with actor Gavin Rossdale as he goes over his makeup effects and his work on the film. Keep an eye out for a glimpse of Rossdale’s wife, Gwen Stefani.
Finally, the package concludes with an Exclusive Collectible Hellblazer Comic Book. This includes three stories: “The Beginning of the End”, “The Gangster, the Whore and the Magician”, and “The First Time”. It also features some character biographies. The comic acts as a nice complement to the rest of the package.
Like many, I’d never heard of the Constantine character until this movie hit screens. I don’t know how the film compares with the comics on which it’s based, but the flick provides a pretty entertaining and intriguing experience on its own. The DVD presents excellent picture and audio along with a very nice collection of supplements. I recommend Constantine to those with a taste for dark comic book fare.
Note that Warner has released two separate versions of Constantine on DVD. In addition to this two-disc affair, there’s a single-platter edition. I assume this simply drops DVD Two from this set. The deluxe package retails for a mere $2 more, so I see virtually no incentive to go with the bare-bones release.