A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Constantine City of Demons: The Movie is an animated, direct-to-video film from DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Extremely violent, the central story in this movie involves a young child whose death appears imminent and whose "soul has been stolen" and hidden in the dark recesses of the earth. John Constantine, the hero, is charged with saving her. Constantine is a demon hunter and occult detective who first appeared in the DC Hellblazer comic books in 1988. The character's first appearance on film was in Constantine, a 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves. A 13-episode, live-action TV series appeared in 2014, starring Matt Ryan who voices the animated character in this film. Constantine has also been featured in DC Comic Justice League films and in a web series. Viewers can expect frequent brutality, along with grotesque monsters whose powers seem almost limitless. Characters (human and demon) are killed with abandon. They're stabbed, impaled, mutilated, and fight to the death in savage hand-to-hand combat. Both humans and creatures are subject to decapitation and others to villains who relish eating their victims' body parts. Profanity, including "s--t," "bastard," "pissed off," "hell," "crap," and one use of "f--k," is heard. There is sexual innuendo, female characters in scanty, breast-accentuating costumes, and a lengthy scene in which a woman attempts to seduce the hero (she is ultimately interrupted). Drinking, drunkenness, vomiting, and cigarette smoking are frequent.
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What's the story?
John Constantine, master of the supernatural, is living in his native London, plagued by guilt, battling his inner demons (which appear as savage little creatures) in CONSTANTINE CITY OF DEMONS: THE MOVIE. Possible redemption comes in the form of Constantine's childhood best friend Chas (Damian O'Hare) who, aware of Constantine's occult powers, desperately needs him. Chas's 8-year-old daughter, Trish, lies in a coma. There's no explanation for her condition, no hope for her return to consciousness. Chas rightfully suspects that black magic is at work. Constantine is fearful, reluctant -- their last intervention together had tragic results. Chas begs; finally, Constantine agrees. In short order, Constantine, aided by Asa (Laura Bailey), confirms that sorcery is in play. Constantine and his friend are thrust into a war of epic proportions -- with a coterie of monsters and bloodthirsty demons. Their journey to save the little girl takes them to Los Angeles, where the mayhem that awaits them knows no bounds. Trish may not be the only loved one at risk; the entire city is threatened with destruction.
Is it any good?
The film's distinctive animation, rousing battles, and top-notch vocal performances serve this off-beat DC Comic "hero" well -- with a caution that it's a grisly affair. Depraved villains attack with unleashed gusto. Blood flows; bodies fall (and are sometimes feasted upon). For new audiences, the mysterious John Constantine's back story, as well as the extent of his multiple supernatural powers, are front and center in Constantine City of Demons: The Movie. The story, while populated by a staggering number of players, is clear and easy to follow. Many of the heroes and heroic events which appear in the vast DC's Justice League franchise are okay for kids (i.e., Superman, Batman). Constantine is not one of those heroes. His skills -- powerful black magic, voodoo chants, exorcism -- as well as his creepily soul-thirsty enemies are only meant for mature teens and adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Constantine City of Demons: The Movie. Does the fact that this is an animated movie rather than live-action lessen the impact of the brutality and extreme violence? Why or why not? Is there such a thing as too much violence? How do you determine what is too much? Why is it essential to be aware of the impact of violence on kids?
Were you familiar with the character of John Constantine before you watched this film? If you were not, did the filmmakers give you enough back story to make this movie and the character understandable? Which scenes or sequences clarified Constantine's past and present?
What is meant by the literary and film term "anti-hero?" In what ways does John Constantine fit the definition? Do you find yourself rooting for anti-heroes in spite of his or her flaws? Why or why not? Who is your favorite anti-hero?
- On DVD or streaming: October 9, 2018
- Cast: Matt Ryan, Laura Bailey, Robin Atkin Downes
- Director: Doug Murphy
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence/gore, disturbing images, and some sexual content
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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