Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery! These are the 9 Circles of Hell made famous by Dante Alighieri in his famed masterpiece, Dante's Inferno, his first story of The Divine Comedy. Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic will take you on a harrowing trip through Hell as Dante braves the forces of evil, slaying demons and monsters of extraordinary imagination, all to save his love Beatrice from the clutches of Lucifer.
The companion piece to the hit Electronic Arts game, Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic, is inventively told through the eyes of visionary animation directors from around the world. 6 Directors, 6 terrifying visions of Hell, 1 heart-stopping epic adventure!
If you’re not a fan of the Electronic Arts videogame, there’s probably little reason for you to check out this animated epic that this is meant as a companion piece for. The game itself derives loosely from the fourteenth century epic poem by Dante Alighieri called “Inferno”, an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through nine different circles of suffering in Hell located within the Earth, guided by the Roman poet Virgil.
Following the trajectory of the videogame, this animation follows Dante, a medieval soldier of war during the Third Crusade, who ventures into the netherworld in a bid to rescue his beloved wife Beatrice from Lucifer. Apparently, Dante’s broken his promise to Beatrice by committing acts of murder and copulation- there by giving the Devil an excuse to take away his loving betrothed. Hence begins Dante’s journey into the nine circles of Hell, namely Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.
The premise may sound interesting but the execution leaves much to be desired for. Unable to escape its trappings as a derivation of a videogame, it clings to this method of storytelling quite frustratingly. This means that each circle of Hell becomes literally one level in the videogame, and the progression from one circle or one level to the next does little to add to the quest than more blood and more noise. Indeed, at each level, Dante is made to fight with the head honcho in charge of it before moving on to the next and doing likewise. That may have worked fine when you’re actually playing the game, but when you’re just watching, it simply gets boring.
It is even more so considering how there is very little story, if any, that this animation has to tell. Little attempt is made to flesh out the moral ambiguities of Dante and his actions during the time of war, to go beyond what he did in order to explore the why behind his actions. Instead, far too much time is spent showing Beatrice’s abject disappointment at his betrayal of her trust which frankly just gets increasingly tiresome.
Of course, most of these flaws can be explained by its decision to employ separate directors to handle each chapter of the film, or rather, each level of Hell. It may have sounded like a good idea to let different directors bring their own visual style to the project, but sadly this approach just doesn’t work here. Besides the occasional lapses in narrative continuity, what’s more distracting is the inconsistency in portraying Dante throughout the film. One chapter he’s buff and all gungho, the next he’s frail and in mourning- and the film doesn’t bother to explain why there seems to be nine different Dantes in the nine different circles of Hell.
It’s hard to see how anyone who has not played the videogame will enjoy this companion piece. It may be edgier with more violence and gore than the usual animation, but hey beyond that there’s really nothing here to hook you in. Besides, if you’re an avid fan of the video game, you’ll probably derive more fun playing the game than watching the game being played by someone- which is what the experience of watching this animation will feel like.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Just 5 “Animatics” which are really just elaborate storyboards of the sequences in the film.
The Blu-ray treatment looks wonderful onscreen- visuals are crisp and clear and the hues and colours are nicely balanced. As an all-out action piece, the Dolby Digital 5.1 offers an immersive surround sound experience to complement the explosions and swordfights going on throughout the movie.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 4 Jul 2010