I attended a screening of Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic on Tueday. It was full of ultra-violence, disturbing imagery, cool animation, and vagina-shaped thingies. As a standalone animated film, it was okay. As an animated film that promotes a game, it totally succeeded in making me want to play Dante’s Inferno. Here are some assorted thoughts (not a review!) on the movie.
In the first few seconds, I was impressed with the animation style and was expecting something fairly realistic. The first three minutes of the film shattered all of my expectations. It went something like this:
- Minute One: Dante’s horse flies upside down. For a second I thought he was attempting to do M. Bison’s “psycho crusher” from Street Fighter.
- Minute Two: Dante returns home to find the slaughtered remains of his family and servants. This was just a taste of the gore that was about to come.
- Minute Three: The spirit of Dante’s beloved Beatrice Portinari goes full frontal. This was just a taste of the boobs and vaginae that were were about to come.
So yeah! The animation style was impressive and disturbing in that tentacle-porn way. Compared to Planet Hulk, an animated film I recently saw, the art style and technique were out of this world. That said, some people might not like that several different animation studios with distinct art styles contributed to this movie. One of my friends in atendance didn’t like how disjointed and inconsistent everything was. In some scenes, Dante was thin and had long hair. In other scenes he was buff and had short hair. His appearance during the flashbacks reflected whatever style a particular animation house was using.
Perhaps I’m giving the film too much credit, but I chalked it up to journeying through a spiritual realm and perception changing in the various Circles of Hell. Hmmm, after typing that thought, I’m definitely giving the film too much credit.
Oh yeah, the Nine Circles of Hell hurts and works for this movie. Starting in the real world, traveling through the Nine Circles, and having flashbacks is a lot to do in an 88-minute movie. It definitely feels rushed and sometimes forced. Death’s Scythe — one of Dante’s two major weapons — isn’t explained at all; it seems like it’s just a random object Dante finds early in the movie and keeps for the next 84 minutes. Virgil’s introduction is done in like 15 seconds, “Hey, I’m Virgil! You loved my poetry and I’ll be your guide. Try the veal!” The way it does work is that it teases each circle as a level. It made me want to see more of each level and all of the boss fights.
The violence in the movie is completely over-the-top and it can be lots of fun. Some of the fight scenes were awesome, but by the end of the film I had my fill. The impact of Dante’s showdown with Lucifer was lost on me because my brain couldn’t process any more violence. If crazy fight scenes are your thing then you’ll love this flick. It makes Kill Bill look like Bambi.
There are some people — a certain game designer with a masters in English that’s working on BioShock 2 comes to mind — that will be offended by the movie’s liberties. Sure, a lot of details were altered, but the movie (and presumably the game) had far more accuracies than I was expecting. If it gets people interested in The Divine Comedy and leads to gamers reading the books, that’s just a fantastic thing. Besides, if you were expecting a literal translation in this movie or the game then you’re just stupid.
Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic comes out on February 9, 2010 — the same week as the game. This is a mistake. It should be out now to generate more interest in the game. As a marketing tool, it excels at making people want to play on PS3 and Xbox 360. Few people are going to want to buy it after playing. It entertained me, but it’s hard to recommend it as a Blu-ray or DVD purchase. I do think it would be an excellent impulse download on PSN or Xbox Live, so long as you’re expecting tons of gratuitous violence, gallons of blood, and vagina walls.