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(Widescreen Edition)

While CONSTANTINE ($28) may not be great cinema by any stretch of the imagination, it is a solid popcorn genre offering that this reviewer found himself liking a whole heck of a lot. Sure, Keanu Reeves displays his usual non-existent emotional range in the title role, but for some strange reason, it manages to give his character a certain world-weariness, which actually works somewhat well in the context of the film. Adapted from the DC/Vertigo Hellblazer comics and graphic novels CONSTANTINE tells the story of one John Constantine (Reeves), a chain-smoking detective who delves into the supernatural realm to help keep the balance between good and evil on Earth.

Gifted (or cursed) with the ability to see things beyond our reality, Constantine uses his abilities to fight evil in an effort to buy his damned soul into heaven. Discovering early on in the film that his thirty cigarette-a-day habit has given him incurable lung cancer, Constantine utilizes his remaining time to investigate the supernatural circumstances that drove the identical twin sister of police detective Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to an apparent suicide. During the course of his investigation, Constantine discovers that something dark, powerful and decidedly evil has designs on this realm and is very close to creating a new hell on Earth. The cast of CONSTANTINE also features Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton and Peter Stormare.

Warner Home Video has made CONSTANTINE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is another great looking transfer from Warner that produces a sharp and very well defined image throughout. Colors can be a bit off kilter at times, but that is the desired effect. Hues are strongly rendered and flesh tones are generally appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and the picture boasts good contrast and fine shadow detail. The film elements appear virtually pristine and there is little apparent grain. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

CONSTANTINE comes with a rather potent Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. With a few actions sequences and an occasional trip through hell, CONSTANTINE provides opportunities for aggressive implementations of the outlying channels, which the sound designers take full advantage of. Sounds are distinctly defined and move around the soundstage effortlessly to create lively sonic environments. Fidelity is very strong, with both the musical sound effects components coming across with a genuine sense of presence. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. The bass channel is full, deep and produces a nice rumble on occasion. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of nice extras. Roughly eighteen minutes worth of deleted scene are provided on the DVD, along with optional directorís commentary. A theatrical trailer closes out the extras on this single disc set. A two-disc version of CONSTANTINE is also being made available with more extensive supplemental features.

As I stated above CONSTANTINE isnít great cinema, but it is a genre offering that this reviewer found quite entertaining. As expected, Warner delivers the good in regards to visual and audio quality, making this the kind of disc genre fans will want to feed to their home theater systems. Recommended to anyone looking for a bit of genre movie fun.



Constantine (Widescreen Edition) (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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