Constantine: City of Demons started as an online animated series on CW Seed. It initially comprised of five, short, six to seven minute episodes with the promise of more to come. What this movie does is it combines and edits the five existing episodes with the seven new episodes, plus new footage to create a full, feature length film in the ongoing DC Animated Movie Universe.
Matt Ryan is Constantine. He first played the role in the short lived TV show, he then reprised the role in Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Justice League: Dark. The character is one with secrets. He’s somewhat mysterious and he has an attitude that often gets on the bad side of other characters. Despite this, Matt makes the character likeable and charming. Even though he engages in and talks about mystical, supernatural events, he’s weirdly down to earth.
The other characters in film are pretty good too. Constantine’s best friend provides much of the heart of the film. He’s a determined father, willing to do whatever it takes to rescue his daughter. Laura Bailey plays the role of Nightmare Nurse. It’s an interesting character but she never has much to do and she serves a very specific purpose in the story, little else.
The villain of the film is surprisingly likeable and engaging. He’s a demon trying to run the city of Los Angeles who isn’t worried about killing or kidnapping people. He can come across as stereotypical and one note, but there’s a key sequence halfway through the film that fleshes him out and adds a comedic element to the character.
Following a recent trend in some comic book based films, this film tries to push boundaries. There’s extreme violence, gore, sex and bad language. Considering the story, tone and characters, this works out fine. It never comes across as unnecessary or crude and it enhances the horror and realism of the film.
The film plays with tone pretty well. This is a comic book based film, but it’s not a superhero film. Constantine arguably isn’t even a hero. The film has horror vibes throughout, but it balances it with good comedic moments and supernatural action.
The weakest element of the film is the animation. That’s not to say that the animation is bad, because it isn’t. In comparison to other animated movies and TV shows, the DC animated universe often looks simplistic, cheap and limited. Perhaps even old fashioned and dated. The characters all look good enough, but the environments are often bland and lacking in detail and facial expressions and emotions are limited.
Constantine: City of Demons is the best Constantine film to date. The character is played and embodied brilliantly by the charming and likeable Matt Ryan. It has a villain that’s layered, an engaging story with a good, twist ending and it’s mix of horror and comedy works really well. Sadly the animation limits things a bit, but it’s by no means bad.