Anchor Bay // 2010 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 15th, 2010
Go to Hell.
As they did with their last game (Dead Space: Downfall), the crew at Visceral Games and the all-seeing video game deity EA, present an animated film companion to their latest release.
You're familiar with the story: Dante Alghieri tours the various levels of Hell with his guide Virgil and the poetry is indeed epic. But this simply won't do for an M-rated actioner, so Dante becomes a disillusioned Crusader with a cross scarred on his chest and Hell becomes a series of battlefields for him to travel through while kicking the crap out of demons with his scythe.
If you've played the video game (which I'm currently wrangling with), the plot progression will be familiar. Dante's goal? To rescue his beloved, Beatrice, who's been targeted by Lucifer to be the next Queen of the Underworld.
Also, to hack apart any Inferno-dwelling jackass that gets in his way.
First off, about the game (consider it a bonus review). I like it and Visceral has done some interesting stuff with the obviously heavy Christian imagery that the original epic poem is sourced upon. Lucifer, God, Judas; the all-stars are well-accounted for and the satisfying hack and slash gameplay add up to fun, violent if not derivative action gaming experience.
Take away the combos, finishing moves, and interactive bloodletting and you're left with this: a loud, frantic and ultimately empty piece of hand-drawn storytelling which, minus the crutch of engaging button-mashing, falters.
There are still some interesting ideas, particularly when it comes to the twists on Christian theology and redemption and forgiveness and what-not -- like in the game's narrative -- but they're not enough to compensate for a whole mess of other problems.
It can't compete with the source material.
No big shocker here, but the comparisons are unavoidable. If you're grounding your entire game and narrative in one of the most revered works of literature ever crafted, you better bring it. Alas, the storyline is simply too bombastic. Dante's Inferno is a classic poem; Dante's Inferno is a goofy excuse to show boobs and demon decapitations.
The animation stinks.
Maybe "stinks" is too heavy a word, but it's not great, a few degrees below your average Saturday morning anime. Hell is designed well, but the animation is choppy and the colors are washed-out and bland.
Dante's a dick.
Hard to get behind this guy as he belches out too angry, roid-raging dialogue and flashes back to his douchebag moves in the Crusades.
What's Lucifer's plan again?
Wait, Beatrice is going to be his wife? And give him kids? Huh?
The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, and a handful of animatics in the extras bin.
Dante's Inferno is primarily a marketing method for the video game. Not being able to control the mayhem takes away the biggest draw.
Guilty. Burn, baby, burn.
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated