Dante’s Inferno – An Animated Epic
Dante’s Inferno (subtitled “An Animated Epic”) is the latest in a long, questionable history of video game tie-in films. In this “animated epic” we meet Dante, who coming back from his tour of duty in the Crusades finds that his family has been murdered, and arrives at his homestead just in time to see his buxom bride-to-be Beatrice bleeding out in the backyard (can I get a booyah for alliteration?), as her (naked) spirit leaves her body, a big smoky demon guy snags her up and tells Dante that she won’t be seeing heaven anytime soon, and drags her down into hell – through all nine levels of it to be exact. To save her immortal soul, Dante is going to have to hack and slash his way through the different layers of hell (with increasing difficulty, since this is indeed a video game based movie) and open up a holy can of whoopass on anything getting in his way.
Because he has nothing better to do in the afterlife, Virgil tags along with our hero, giving him cryptic advice on how to take on hell itself. Since this is an “animated epic”, we’re sure to ride along as Dante discovers more about himself along the way, and maybe come to realize that he’s not the shining white hero he thinks he is. That’s what epics are for, right?
Sure enough, as Dante fights deeper and deeper through hell’s levels, named after purgatory and the seven sins, taking on a boss fight at the end of each level, his exploits during the Crusades are exposed in the brutal light of reality, and he starts to understand a basic concept of Christianity that has plagued man for years: Absolution is not a ticket to do whatever the hell you want.
While normally I’m all for a good bloody adult animated film, Dante’s Inferno unfortunately left me rooting for a quick ending to both my and Dante’s suffering. While the story was interesting enough, the film itself stuck too closely to its video game roots (enter area, kill underlings, fight boss, move to next area). The second strike was the decision to have each chapter (level) drawn by a different team of artists. The differences between art styles were quite jarring about 3 chapters in. The characters changed from gaunt, stringy heroes to blocky, and for a couple of chapters, Virgil looked a whole lot like Hades from Disney’s “Hercules” flick. Showcasing different art styles was not needed in this story, stick with one that works and tell the “animated epic”. What little flow of the plot was derailed by they stylized changes we go through every few minutes in this hour and a half.
If the intended market of the film is 13 year old boys fascinated by buckets of blood, stuff on fire and boobs, they nailed it. If you need a little more from your “animated epics”, like maybe plotlines and continuity, you’ll be left wanting. I’m not dissuaded from checking out the game after watching this, but sitting through another viewing might be waiting for me when I hit purgatory myself, where I have to watch animation on an old tube TV that flickers and has a blown right speaker.