By Alan Trehern
I rarely attach the word "epic" to anything but the most white-knuckle, bloody action movies that I have ever seen. So to call Dante's Inferno an "animated epic" would be beyond acceptable in my eyes; this movie has redefined the phrase. Although it is based and promotes the video game of the same name, Dante's Inferno on its own is one of the most intense, violent and terrifying anime movies I have ever seen. Let me reiterate, for those readers faint of heart, this movie is bone-chilling, excruciatingly bloody and scary as hell. I'm not punning around!
Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic (2010)
Directed by: Victor Cook, Mike Disa, Sang-Jin Kim, Shuko Murase, Jong-Sik Nam, and Lee Seung-Gyu
Featuring the Voices of: Mark Hamill, Steve Blum and Graham McTavish The Story
The plot of the movie is taken text-for-text, to my knowledge, from the epic poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (c. 1265-1321). The movie is animated and from Japan, so you know the look of it is either going to be really awesome or really shitty. If you've ever read my reviews of the Street Fighter animated movies, you'll know what I'm talking about.
In any case, Dante comes back from the Crusades to find his beloved Beatrice slaughtered. The Dark One (I don't like using his real name) is immediately there to take the girl's soul to Hell, but Dante doesn't know why and follows blindly after her nonetheless. From here, Dante meets with the poet Virgil to navigate the nine circles of Hell representing some of the deadliest sins of mankind.
Our hero, Dante, represents the epitome of Man's courage, but at the same time, represents Man's hard fall from Grace. Although he was a soldier in the Crusades, his character hearkens back to a more mythological Greek hero, charging into battles without hesitation. And in this film, he does that...ALOT. There is a battle in every scene, and each one is eye-blowing. I would have paid the outrageous $12 to see this in theaters, it was that visually stimulating.
But let's get back on topic. Personally, I've never read the epic poem, but the imagery and themes from the movie cannot be far off from those of the text. I was not only visually affected by the atrocities of Hell and its inhabitants, but the human themes of forgiveness, love and sorrow could not help but come to fruition through the film. For those of you that have read The Divine Comedy, you may witness an extremely violent and dark interpretation of it. I suggest you prepare yourself for that when you sit down to watch it, but I still suggest you do.
The movie was cut into six different segments, each with a different director at the helm and each animated in a different fashion, similar to Gotham Knight. Some of the segments were beautifully animated while still others I didn't find as visually appealing, but they managed to tell the story accurately and vividly enough. The one problem I had with the transitions, though, was the animation's failure to stay continuous. Each circle of Hell had Dante changing armor and looks while accompanied by an alternate Virgil. I fully accept the artistic ingenuity behind the six different segments, but to completely change the characters' looks seems a little bit irresponsible.
As the title of the film describes, the music was satisfyingly epic. Christopher Tin did all the original music, and I didn't notice one song out of place, whether it was in the heat of battle, or in the temptation of Beatrice in Satan's tower.
After pondering the movie's effect on me, I've realized that it wasn't just the film that posed an impact, but the story. Truly it was The Divine Comedy and the tale of Dante, and the belief that Hell really does exist somewhere in God's creation, and that somewhere within lies an entity more terrifying and evil than any Italian epic or Japanimated movie can portray. This movie was an imaginative look at Dante's Inferno, and although it is only a story, the message it is attempting to present, whether it's only there because the poem (not the video game) or the film readily presented it, still holds horrifyingly true today.