The occult investigator, John Constantine, is called on to solve another mystery that has all the bearings of a task too hard to handle. When his best friend from long ago shows up at his shows at his doorstep with a rather peculiar case, Constantine is dragged into yet another adventure down the alleys of dark magic. Is this installment of another Hellblazer chronicle worth watching or can you skip it? Read further to find out.
Constantine City of Demons – The Movie (2018) was directed by Dough Murphy who also directed the famed Constantine City of Demons series. Clearly, the movie had experienced people working on it – experienced not only in the realm of animation but also in the realm of the universe of Hellblazer. This experience may shine brightly in all the allusions it makes to the Hellblazer universe but feels lacking in capturing the spirit of the hit comic series.
Constantine City of Demons – The Movie does a fine job at designing the characters of the beloved John Constantine – a prickly and cynical man with incredible skills in dark magic and a kind heart. We are introduced to the character inside a psychiatric facility, trying to reel from a tragic incident that took place in the immediate past. His best friend Chaz is also introduced in this scene trying to comfort him and as a tool to allude to us that the tragic incident involved John Constantine using dark magic irresponsibly.
The title credits roll and we meet John Constantine almost a decade later in his shabby apartment dealing with his inner demons that have manifested themselves in a physical form as tiny ghoulish creatures.
So far so good. The protagonist has been introduced and we have established that he has some serious issues. And then begin the problems with this film. It is a gorefest. In the name of it being an R-rated movie, it goes above and beyond to prove its R-rated-ness. John Constantly squishes these tiny ghoulish demons and blood spurts out in all directions and the relentless squishy sounds add to gory animation.
There is nothing wrong with blood or gore. But blood and gore without a purpose seem too indulgent. There is a scene in the film where Constantine is shown around the hellish castle where Beroul (the masked main villain) resides. We are shown a buffet of demons torturing human beings and a pool of blood with dead bodies flowing in ridiculous abundance. The need for such an indulgently gore-ish sequence is quite questionable because instead of adding to the terror of the villain (which I hope was the aim of the sequence), it only makes you cringe.
Such bloody and gory scenes are spread throughout this film – they, more often than not, just serve the purpose of looking disgusting rather than inducing any terror or fear.
The film revolves around Chaz’s daughter Trish’s sudden bout of comatose. Chaz enlists his best-friend-of-the-past Constantine’s help to find a cure for his daughter’s affliction. The search leads them from the dark and dreary alleys of London to the underbelly of Los Angeles. Beroul, the monster who has kidnapped Trish’s soul, strikes a deal with Constantine for her release. This deal leads him into deeper waters with LA’s demons and dark magic practitioners.
The film sets up the ending quite early on. It is established that the ending will be bittersweet at best. And it indeed is. In order to not spoil the movie, I won’t go into any details but I will talk about the nature of it a little bit. The ending seemed very contrived and forced. As I mentioned before, my biggest problem with this movie is that it failed to capture the spirit of Hellblazer comics.
Throughout its runtime, it was so particular about showing blood and gore that it completely missed the point of the Hellblazer universe. Hellblazer series is more about exploring the dark and greed-filled nature of humans and society than about magic and gore. The magic of Hellblazer acts more like a blanket to keep us comfortable and hopeful through the exploration of all that can be considered dark. Don’t get me wrong. This film has extremely dark themes to work for it but they, just like all the gore, miss their mark because rather than being explored, they are showcased in a vile and proud manner.
The ending of the Constantin: City of Demons tries to tie all the ends and give its characters a bit of resolution but fails in doing so because their journeys were haphazard and unexplored, to begin with.
The Animation of Constantine City of Demons
The animation of Constantine City of Demons seems a little off. The animation can be of any kind as long as the story and the dialogues are good enough. But in many instances in the film, the dialogue and the expressions on the face of the speaker seem disjointed. Thus, making those scenes a bit distracting. A couple of scenes also have dialogues out of sync with the animation. I can’t tell if it was poor production or simply lazy production but it definitely made the movie a bit more distracting.
In conclusion, Constantine City of Demons is a fine watch if you are a fan of the Hellblazer comic series but, even then, it will exhaust you with its R-rated-ness. If you aren’t a Hellblazer fan, from start to finish, this film is a rather tedious watch.