Cast: Matt Ryan, Damian O’Hare, Laura Bailey
Written by: J.M. DeMatteis
Directed by: Doug Murphy
Running time: 90 minutes
Constantine: City of Demons is a full-length animated feature version of the web series with additional content not seen in the series to bring it to a full 90 minutes in length. The film is set 15 years after the tragic events in Newcastle, often referred to in the comics and retold here in a lengthy flashback sequence.
Chas, John Constantine’s best friend and sidekick, tracks him down to see his aid for his 8 year-old daughter, Trish, who lies in a mysterious coma. With the aid of the Nightmare Nurse, John discovers that Trish’s soul is missing and is in the possession of a particularly noxious and bloated demon named Beroul.
Beroul is using the girl’s soul as a bargaining chip to force Constantine to destroy several other demons that are all competing for souls on Earth. John must join forces with some unlikely allies including an ancient Aztec Death God who refuses to die in order to save Trish from eternal damnation.
Constantine: City of Demons is rated R and it is definitely a fairly hard R. In addition to a good deal of profanity, this movie is far more violent and gory than any previous DC animated film. You may wish to cover yourself in plastic due the buckets of blood and entrails that pour onto the screen. It is dark, grim and particularly unnerving since children are at the core of the deadly gambit between Constantine and the demons.
Matt Ryan, who played Constantine in the short-lived NBC TV show as well as in the Arrowverse TV series, reprises his role as the chain-smoking, wise-cracking sorcerer with a penchant of picking the wrong fights at the wrong time. Fans of the character from the comics will not be disappointed with the portrayal or the story which was written by longtime comic book scribe J.M. DeMatteis.
DeMatteis perfectly captures the weight of the guilt that Constantine lives with every day, due In part to his failure at Newcastle. Despite everything, Chas is the one person who constantly reaches out to John as a friend and that makes the film’s epilogue particularly tragic.
I’ve always found the animation in the DC films to be inconsistent with the style often not fitting the subject matter. But that is not the case with Constantine: City of Demons. The animation and its gloomy color palette make the perfect backdrop for this Hellish tale.
Put the kids to bed and fire this one up in the blu-ray player for one hell of a ride!
The Sorcerer’s Occultist: Understanding John Constantine (13:38): A look at Constantine’s character and magic in the DC Universe.
Constantine: City of Demons Wondercon 2018 Panel (20:50): A Q&A session with Matt Ryan, writer J.M. DeMatteis, and Peter Girardi.