Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic – Blu-ray Review

Back in the 14th Century, Dante Alighieri wrote an epic poem called “The Divine Comedy.” It mixed religion, mythology and a classic tale of lost love and redemption with lots of action and fights with various monsters along the way. Now some 500 years later, EA has used this poem as inspiration for an animated epic video game, Dante’s Inferno. Just like EA did with the also popular Dead Space video game, it has released an animated companion film to go along with the game’s release. But what exactly is this film all about and is it any different than the video game?

Based on the loose video-game adaptation of the famous 14th century poem, the movie version of Dante’s Inferno follows tortured Christian warrior Dante (voice of Graham McTavish) who fought in the Crusades and has fallen in love with the lovely Beatrice (voice of Vanessa Branch). She is a foxy young woman who has sworn to wait for him to return so that they can be together. When he comes back, though, he finds Beatrice lying amongst the dead bodies of her family members, and soon joins them. As her soul begins its climb to Heaven, she’s snatched by a horde of Satan’s minions and dragged on down to Hell. Now Dante is determined to save the soul of the woman he loves, so he heads down to Hell himself only to find out that Satan has revealed his infidelity to his Beatrice. Dante then teams up with a poet named Virgil and the pair make their way through the nine circles of Hell: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery. But while trying to save Beatrice, they soon find out that Satan has other plans for all involved. With the fate of Beatrice’s soul up in the air, Dante must not only fight with all he’s got, but he must learn about himself in order to figure out how to save her.

This animated movie is not a direct adaptation of the famous poem from Dante. It basically looks and feels a video game, which shouldn’t surprise anyone since this was released in conjunction with the VG’s arrival on PlayStation 3. The story is pretty basic and predictable. You have a hero fighting a ton of monsters to save someone he loves. The characters are pretty one-dimensional with little depth, but they are benefitted by voice acting from the likes of Kevin Michael Richardson and that “joker” Mark Hamill.

Some of the monsters and scenes that Dante encounters in this film, though, are quite shocking and surprising. The sex, violence, and gory over-the-top action are constant throughout this film.

What is not constant, however, is the animation. The EA Game producers behind the game and this film used six different animation studios, including JM Animation, Dongwoo Animation, Film Roman, Production IG, and Manglobe. So what you end up with is different interpretations of what Hell looks like and what the monsters and characters from this classic tale look like as well. That means there are a couple segments that look better than the others, and thus makes the others not look that great and uneven.

If you like animated gory video games like God of War and its sequels, you may be entertained. But this movie is nothing more than a extended commercial for the game you probably should be playing in the first place.

The video on the Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p/AVC at the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. This transfer is good. For the most part, all the colors are bright and all the details are vivid. But since there are numerous animation studios involved with this film, there is never a consistent quality of animation. Nothing is totally unwatchable, but the animation ranges from lackluster to average to excellent. No major problems overall, though.

The audio included on the Blu-ray disc is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. This is nothing special, but there are no problems here either.

“Animatics” Featurette
This runs 12 minutes and it’s a series of five animatics. The animatics presented here include “Beatrice Chase” (3:12), “Charon” (2:17), “Dante Stabs Farinata” (1:21), “Francesco Fight” (2:51), and “Lust Minions” (1:51) Each of the animatics feature some light voice work, and some contain very elaborate pencil drawings. Animation fans will love this for sure.

EA Game Trailer
This is a 2 minute trailer for the video game from which this title is inspired. This trailer covers more cut scenes of the game rather than gameplay footage.

If you love animated gory epic video games, you will be entertained by Dante’s Inferno. Do you need to watch this film to enjoy the video game? No, probably not. It does give you a taste of what to expect, though.

Starz / Anchor Bay Home Entertainment presents Dante’s Inferno. Directed by Mike Disa. Written by Brandon Auman. Starring Graham McTavish (voice), Vanessa Branch (voice), Mark Hamill (voice), Steve Blum (voice), Kevin Michael Richardson (voice), Victoria Tennat (voice), J. Grant Albrecht (voice), Grey DeLisle (voice), Nicholas Guest (voice), H. Richard Greene (voice), Bart McCarthy (voice), John Paul Karliak (voice), and Petter Jessop (voice). Running time: 88 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: February 9, 2010. Available at Amazon.com


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