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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Constantine

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#1 of 1 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted October 13 2008 - 05:52 PM

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Release Date: October 14, 2008
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case
Year: 2005
Rating: R
Running Time: 2h01m
MSRP: $28.99

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1May be in standard definition
AudioDolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1, French 5.1 (both Parisian and dubbed in Quebec), Spanish (Castillian 5.1 and Latin 2.0), German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Japanese 5.1Audio standards may vary
SubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish (movie and selct bonus materials)


The Feature: 3.5/5
John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) is going to hell. It's not for everything he's done, just one thing. But he's been trying to make up for it, chasing down demonic "half-breeds" that infiltrate our world in the hope that Someone will take notice when his time is finally up.

Unfortunately that time is imminent; 20 years of chain smoking has taken its natural course. But what looks to be his final job - helping Detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) make sense of her twin sister's death - could change things. Then it could also make death by cancer seem like a welcome walk in the park.

Adapted from the DC Comics "Hellblazer" series, "Constantine" plays pretty loose with Christian theology and Catholic beliefs, but it proves to be an entertaining piece if you're willing to forgive it of those faults. Incredible imagery, well executed CGI and effective pacing also help make up for a somewhat convoluted story that too often uses character exposition as a fallback. Interestingly, Reeves's and Weisz's performances have a common pitch, both seeming a bit too measured and cerebral - his with the terse and gruff line delivery and hers with the American accent that sounds a bit overly flattened in its tones. Nevertheless, as far as comic book adaptations go you could do a lot worse. The film sits comfortably alongside others like "Hellboy" and "Blade," solid genre entries but nothing more.


Video Quality: 4/5
The film is correctly framed at 2.40:1, encoded in VC-1 and free of blemishes. Black levels are deep and inky, but contrast suffers from black crush, precluding shadow detail. Colors also vary quite a bit. Though it largely seems intentional the variation in flesh tones can be a distraction as they range from exceedingly warm to quite cool and pale. Detail is very good however and grain structure appears intact with no signs of noise reduction or artificial edge enhancement.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5
The Dolby TrueHD audio mix is a dynamic and enveloping one, with plenty of activity across the entire speaker array and deep and clean LFE. Dialogue is mostly clear and intelligible, though the use of some rather obscure vocabulary and the accent of one particular character can be a challenge to discern.

The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 option is predictably more concentrated in its scope and flatter in its dynamic range, but proves to be a capable alternative in the absence of lossless playback capability.


Special Features: 4/5

In-Movie Experience: The video commentary gets off to a slow start and is fairly measured in its content, but for those who don't like the constant interruption that video commentaries usually involve, it may prove ideal. I found the audio commentaries more informative overall, though this feature is an efficient way to digest the majority of the special feature's components.

Audio commentary by Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Akiva Goldsman: Lawrence and Goldsman provide a highly informative track that provides, among other things, background information on some of the occult notions that often go unexplained in the film.

Audio commentary by Writers Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Cappello: The writers talk enthusiastically about the comic book origins of Constantine and its adaptation for the screen, which was not without some controversy for fans of the source material (he was British in the comics). As with the other track I learned some things about the film that I had totally missed in the viewing.

Behind the Story: Fourteen featurettes totaling over 90 minutes cover everything from casting to special effects pre-visualization. The latter piece includes an optional commentary by Lawrence.

Deleted Scenes (17m41s): Fourteen behind-the-scenes clips (a couple of which include Michelle Monaghan) with optional commentary by Lawrence.

"Passive" Music Video by A Perfect Circle (4m16s)

Teaser Trailer (55s)

Theatrical Trailer (2m22s)


Recap

The Feature: 3.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

A capable comic book adaptation gets a good video transfer, very good audio options and a thorough special features set.
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com





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