Last week I posted a clip from EA and Media Starz “Dante’s Inferno”, an accompanying Anime to a game of the same name. Both game and Anime are loosely based on the poem “The Divine Comedy” which focus’ on our “hero’s” (Dante) journey through the nine levels of Hell, in an attempt to save his beloved Beatrice.
I have finally gotten round to watching the DVD and my thoughts on the matter follow.
Dante’s Inferno was produced by 5 different production studios each one given free rein to interpret his/her vision of Hell. There is a noticeable change of animation style as each segment of the writing changes studio’s hands.
The scene is set with Dante returning home from Jerusalem and the crusades, absolved by the Church of all his sins when he notices a shadowy figure stalking his in the mists. He then appears to escape three omens in the form of wild cats (lions, tigers etc). Dante see’s these omens as a reflection of ill too come and rushes to return to his manor, awaiting family and beloved Beatrice. Upon reaching his home, he finds the servants brutally murdered and his father slain. He desperately seeks his love; Beatrice merely to find a blood stained room with tracks leading outside; following the tracks he finds the half-naked body of his love Beatrice, blood flowing from a sword wound. As she dies in his arms, Dante see’s her pure soul rising towards Heaven, it is at this very moment that a shade of Lucifer himself appears and denies Beatrice’s soul passage to Heaven. It is proclaimed that Beatrice belongs to Hell as a wager agreed between herself and Lucifer to bring Dante home safely has been lost. Dante is left the harrowing message of “You have broken your promise”. Lucifer proceeds to steal Beatrice’s soul with Dante in pursuit, they enter the City of Acre or gates of Hell with Dante unable to pass through. It is here that Dante is punished by death to bear the sins of his past, sewn to his chest in the form of the Templar’s Cross, each sin portrayed for all to see.
After this ordeal, Dante meets Virgil, a spirit guide sent from heaven who foretold the coming of Christ. With Virgil’s help he fights through each level of Hell facing the respective guardians including the damned soul of his Father, who has been promised 1000 years of no tortures if he kills his own son. Despite all the demons ahead of him, it is his own personal demons and sins that he must conquer in the end to save Beatrice. Dante eventually makes it to the 9th level of Hell and confronts Lucifer who claims that Dante, the kidnapping of Beatrice and all the atrocities he committed in life were planned by Lucifer in order for Dante to free him, and that no other minion in his sway had made it as far as Dante. A titanic battle ensues with Dante calling on the power of God to re-chain Lucifer in exchange for his eternal wandering through Purgatory. His wish is granted and with Lucifer re-imprisioned , Dante is able to leave Hell but destined to be away from his love Beatrice. However he reamins happy knowing that one day he will atone for his sins and be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven to rejoin Beatrice. To symbolise this, the Templar Cross portraying his sins falls away and turns into a snake, the symbol of Lucifer’s temptation and hold on the mortal realm.
Dante’s Inferno is an interesting Anime, it does it’s job well of being an accompanying piece to the video game like a game guide. And this is part of the problem with it, while each level of hell is stunningly animated it feels like being reduced to watching your friend play his video game, each level of Hell has a boss which is beaten in a particular combination of scenarios. While the dialogue starts strong with story telling, it weakens as we progress further and further into Hell. In fact due to the differing studios involved the viewer feels like they have missed important events between boss battles. As stated already, the animation is stunning, pure visual candy but due again to the different studio involvements I found the change of Dante’s design to be more of a distraction e.g when we approach Lust and Greed Dante’s foes and costume have changed so much for the worse that it detracts from the movie. Luckily for the viewer, Dante reverts in detail back to the character design at the start of the movie, the last battle it-self degenerates into a pseudo mecha battle with Satan shooting Gundam style lasers from his wings.
Dante’s Inferno remains an entertaining watch from the start but quickly loses momentum as the story becomes nothing more than a hack and slash with supernatural themes, as stated it is a decent accompaniment to the game but as a stand-alone feature movie fall shorts on many levels.
A 3/5 Stars for me
Thanks for reading