I don’t understand DC and Warner Bros. For the past couple of years, they’ve put out a lot of live-action shows based on their comic book properties. Arrow. The Flash, Supergirl. Black Lightning. Gotham. Krypton. Lucifer. iZombie. Preacher. All of these shows are still on the air and have been running for more than just a coupe of seasons now. But there was one show that they cancelled after just one season yet they keep on using the character in their television series and even animated films. That cartoon character is the resident exorcist, demonologist and
master petty dabbler of the dark arts, Constantine.
Despite the show getting cancelled after only one season, there was just something about Constantine that drew in loyal fans. And now, the character has crossed over into the CW’s Arrowverse, appearing in both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Constantine also headlined the DC Universe Original Animated film, Justice League Dark. I guess the character’s popularity has garnered the attention over at DC as they’re currently producing a new animated show, Constantine: City of Demons, exclusively for the CW Seed streaming service.
While the animated series has been out for a good while now, I’m betting some fans may not be able to watch it as it is only available on the CW Seed service. Or maybe you would just want to see if it’s worth watching. Whatever the case, this will be a SPOILER FREE review and I won’t be revealing anything major here. Anyway, on with the review!
As much as I would want to say Constantine: City of Demons is a continuation of the NBC show, there are some things that conflict with the series “canon.” Also, I’m not entirely sure if it’s set in the same universe as Justice League Dark as Constantine doesn’t live in the House of Mystery as he did in the DC DC Universe Original Animated film. It’s possible that it’s set in a totally new continuity, assuming that the Arrowverse is different from the live-action show. The biggest clue as to why I say the animated series has no connection to the NBC series is because Chaz Chandler, one of the characters that appear in both iterations, is a totally different character. In fact, Chaz is the person that starts the entire plot of the series as he goes to John Constantine for assistance as his daughter is seemingly possessed by a demon. This leads to Constantine and Chaz to go to the City of Angels, Los Angeles, to find the demon and free Chaz’s daughter.
Right off the bat, I do have some issues with the animated show. The biggest one is how short each episode is. CW Seed already released a total of five episodes and that sounds like a lot. Unfortunately, each episode only runs for a measly 5 to 6 minutes and that includes the opening and closing credits. If watched in succession, they only have around 22 minutes total, roughly the same length as an cartoon you would watch on TV. This is the same pattern CW Seed with their other animated show, Vixen and Freedom Fighters: The Ray. It worked for Vixen for the most part and I can’t speak for Freedom Fighters: The Ray since I haven’t watched it yet. However, it just doesn’t work for Constantine: City of Demons as the show and atmosphere relies mostly on building suspense instead of delivering pulse pounding action like in the other shows. It’s kind of hard to create any sort of tension if the episode just ends after a few minutes.
This brings me to the next thing I didn’t like about the first five episodes. The first batch of episodes from Constantine: City of Demons ends just when things are starting to heat up. If I’m being totally honest, every episode seems to end just when things are getting good. It’s like every episode reveals a very tiny portion of the overall story they’re trying to tell and then they just end without a proper closing. It feels more like a full-length DC Universe Original Animated Movie that CW Seed chopped up into 5-minute chunks and released them on their streaming service. It feels disjointed and paced very disjointedly.
Thankfully, there is still a lot to like about Constantine: City of Demons. First and foremost is the voice acting. They managed to get Matt Ryan, who played Constantine in the live-action show, to voice the titular character and, honestly, it would be a terrible idea if they decided to replace him now. Matt Ryan was absolutely perfect in the live-action show, perfectly capturing the cocky nature of the character while also making sure he comes off as a severely damaged anti-hero. He was perfect for the live-action show and he’s still the perfect Constantine, even though he’s just doing his voice here.
Matt Ryan isn’t the only one who gives a standout performance. Laura Bailey’s portrayal of Asa The Healer (AKA The Nightmare Nurse) is also really good. She infuses The Nightmare Nurse with that perfect mix of deadpan delivery but with a conscience. The guy and girl who play Chaz and his wife are also really good as well. Actually, I will have to say all of the vocal performances so far were excellent. It’s just that Matt Ryan and Laura Bailey’s are just a step above the rest.
The animation is really good. Constantine: City of Demons uses the same animation company that produces their other animated films. Even Constantine looks like he did in Justice League Dark. They do pull off some decent action spots and some really not-for-kids scenes. This is a really violent cartoon. It doesn’t seem like it for the first three episodes but they do ramp up the gore and disturbing imagery for the last two. But it definitely suits the world of Constantine and it’s really welcome in this case. My only real criticism about the animation style is that everything looks incredibly clean. I know it’s an overused term in comic adaptions nowadays but if there’s a cartoon that deserved to look “gritty,” it would be Constantine: City of Demons. It doesn’t detract too much from the experience, though.
Overall, I really liked what DC did with Constantine: City of Demons. Matt Ryan is still the best Constantine ever and the story is intriguing enough for me to look forward for the next couple of episodes. The Incredibly short length of the episodes and the really sloppy way each episode ends does hurt the show immensely but I still can give this a solid recommendation despite it.
Have you seen Constantine: City of Demons yet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!