Constantine: Deluxe Edition

Constantine: Deluxe Edition (2005)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LeBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale
Extras: Commentary Track, Music Video, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Comic Book

Based on the DC Comics / Vertigo "Hellblazer" Graphic Novels, Keanu Reeves stars as John Constantine, a peace-keeper of sorts, wandering the streets of Los Angeles to ensure a somewhat equilibrium between God and Satan on Earth, in the supernatural thriller "Constantine."

After not being able to cope with his "gift" of seeing supernatural beings living amongst us and forced by his parents to undergo various tests for his supposed mental condition, an adolescent John Constantine commits suicide and finds himself damned to hell for all eternity. Later attempting to buy his way into heaven, so-to-speak, John continues his mission of warding off the demon-like half-breeds that are aiming to cross over into the real world. While performing his share of exorcisms, John teams with female police detective Angela (Rachel Weisz) who is trying to solve the apparent murder/suicide of her twin sister Isabel (also played by Weisz).

Pursuing the two is a determined, scavenger of the damned, by the name of Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale, from the rock band Bush). Bringing a bit of quirky humor to the mix is an ambiguous and slightly irregular angel, by the name of Gabriel (Tilda Swinton), which only adds to the chaos of their plight. John and Angela find themselves immersed in the ultimate battle of good versus evil, while John comes to terms with his own possible destiny, all playing out in the city of Angels.

Warner Home Video presents "Constantine" in one spectacular <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer, which reproduces all aspects of the film in tremendous detail. Color is well saturated throughout and flesh-tones appear natural. I was thoroughly impressed with the exceptional color palette present, from the greenish hues of John’s apartment and the vibrant reds and blues of the nightclub scenes, to the beige and gray tones on the various demons roaming hell’s brutal landscape, a true eye-candy extravaganza awaits. Blacks are rich in depth, while maintaining a good balance between vibrant whites to provide the transfer with near-perfect contrast and shadow detail, which only helps to enhance the lavish production of the film. The DVD transfer for "Constantine" did not exhibit any visible issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement.

If the picture isn’t enough to wow you, the sound will. Available in <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1, the soundtrack for "Constantine" provides a good balance throughout, with even use of all available channels. I did notice that the sound level appeared slightly lower than normal, but once you adjust the volume to compensate, you will be treated to a full sonic sensation. Vocals appear natural in reproduction and surround and low frequency channels come to life during the many action sequences contained within the film.

A good example of the soundtrack exhibiting nice detail is a street scene involving a swarm of demons that descent down upon John and Angela, the dynamic range is so intense that the potential of angering neighbors is quite possible, especially if you live in a smaller space. Sound-wise, the only thing that could have been improved upon would have been the inclusion of a <$DTS,dts> track, but overall, the soundtrack contained on this DVD provides a great sonic experience.

Warner Home Video brings "Constantine" to DVD in a few different incarnations. Available as a single disc <$PS,widescreen> or full screen presentation, with limited extras, or as a full-blown Deluxe Edition two-disc DVD, complete with exclusive collectable DC Comics / Vertigo "Hellblazer" comic featuring a reprint of issue #41 "Dangerous Habits" and a "Hellblazer" short story, all packaged nicely within a cardboard slip-cover.

A wealth of extras awaits you in the two-disc Deluxe Edition. Alongside the feature presentation of disc one, you will find a commentary featuring director Francis Lawrence, producer Akiva Goldsman and screenwriters Frank Cappello and Kevin Brodbin, a music video for "Passive", performed by A Perfect Circle, as well as a teaser and theatrical trailer for the film.

Special features available on disc two include; 18 minutes of deleted scenes, and an alternate ending to the film, which is worth viewing, but will lead you to understand why they ended up on the cutting room floor. The featurette "Conjuring Constantine" gives a good history on "Hellblazer" and how the elements of the story transform from comic book to feature-length film. Very informative "making of" documentaries including; "The Production from Hell" documentary gallery: "Director’s Confessional", "Collision with Evil" and "Holy Relics". If that wasn’t enough to keep you busy, there is another documentary gallery called "Imagining the Underworld" featuring; "Hellscape", which is a terrific look at how the filmmakers were determined to make the overall look and feel of hell, unlike anything else seen in film today and you can’t help but appreciate their drive to make that result possible. Rounding out the documentaries are "Visualizing Vermin", "Warrior Wings", "Unholy Abduction" and "Constantine Cosmology". Another good feature is "Foresight: The Power of Previsualization", which gives a nice look into the process of comparing computer-generated storyboarding to a selection of completed scene(s) from the film.

I was truly impressed with the well thought out and nicely produced behind-the-scenes material, that make up the plentitude of special features presented in this Deluxe Edition.

Having an almost "Matrix" feel, thanks in part to some of the most eye-popping special effects available, "Constantine" makes one exceptional comic book to film translation and one hell of an entertaining experience, if not taken too seriously.