Animation is generally cute, even when the audience is faced with the doe eyes of Sailor Moon or the button eyes of the otherworldly characters in Coraline. Even when the animation is grimy-looking or vulgar, it’s usually intelligent or comical, or hell, at the very least sensible -- a person would only need to throw a stone as far as South Park to see that, not to mention the Boondocks or Robot Chicken. What to do, then, when faced with a movie so ill-wrought, vulgar, and boring there is hardly anything else that can be pointed out? Bear with me, if you have the time, to listen to me whine, about nothing and everything all at once…
There’s a German word that translates into “bloodlust”…actually, that’s a lie, or at least an answer I don’t know. But it would make for a good opener, and I sense I’m going to have problems churning out the required 900 words. This review is about Dante’s Inferno, the animated film accompanying the February 2010 video game release. The game looks pretty cool -- a dark take on Dante’s quest for his beloved Beatrice, a quest that takes him all of the way into the well-animated ninth gate of Hell. The film, like the game, is a loose telling of Dante Alighieri’s story. In the film, Dante must face his suicidal mother, a variety of lesser demons, and Beelzebub himself -- experiences that serve only thinly to veil the vice-driven, graphic detail in the form of violence and naked bodies that is meant to be the real selling point.
The film is separated into segments that follow Dante through the different “gates” of Hell. These separations presumably mirror the different levels of the game (not being a gaming guru, I don’t deign to claim this as fact). The sections are labeled with terms like “limbo,” “fraud,” and “treachery”; in each of these sections Dante is subjected to trials and tribulations that are as trite as the section titles infer. The subject matter suggests dismalness and doom, and the tone of the film follows suit. But this is a problem. It’s sort of like watching Kurt Cobain right before his death; there are no heroics, and no anti-heroics even, there’s just pathetic ideas whimpering with graphic detail. The audience is left to digest a clusterfuck of bullshit with negative overtones.
As a side note, one of the most irritating things about watching this film is that the animation doesn't match the dialogue. This just adds another level of incredulity to the entire experience.Granted, there is a small likelihood that this could have been a problem with the disc and not with the film editing, but the seemingly poor editing just made my viewing experience that much poorer (my repeated use of the term “poor” will stand, as I’d hate to waste too many interesting words on this review).
Dante’s Inferno encourages ridiculously overdramatic dialogue, unrealistic sexual portrayals, and reverence of violence; because of this, I couldn’t help continually comparing it to various middle-school memories, where my friends and I would crack bad jokes over the titles of health and body-image literature, take advice from rap stars, and obtain sexual knowledge from Cosmo. Just like middle school, there is nothing creative to bitch about.
Man, at least this review has resolved which age demographic this film is intended for.
Dear Anchor Bay Entertainment,
As you are responsible for DVD distribution, I would like to formally complain about your disc. I am not upset about your lack of features, as I doubt I would have been particularly interested, anyway. However, the lack of a digital disc caused me some duress when faced with the situation of a lost remote accompanying my blue disc player. I feel my cause may be more greatly evidenced through the statistics of the NPD Group.
Thanks, and have a great day,