Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic My Reviews 02 APR 2010

EA Games recently released Dante’s Inferno, a re-imagining of the original epic poem sharing the same name, and a game that borrows much from the hack and slash classics that is God of War. Of course, in an attempt to cash in on the big release, EA has seen it fit to commission the creation of Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic – basically a straight to DVD, feature length film created from the stitched together work originating from a number of animation houses, much in the vein of The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight.

But here’s the kicker. It’s actually a stitched together movie that’s got the formula right!

The story follows Dante, a knight returned from the Crusades only to find his beloved Beatrice dead, slain at the hands of one who steals her very soul and transports it straight to hell. Realizing that it is his fault and with nothing else but the salvation of his beloved on his mind, Dante charges after the dark figure and attempts to break into Hell as a living mortal, though this is initially denied to him. However, be it divine or demonic intervention, his sins get sewn upon his body and his renewed spirit, together with the unexpected council from the long dead poet Virgil, allows him to break down the doors and so his descent through the various levels of Hell begins as he tracks down Beatrice’s soul in an effort to free her and deal with the Dark One responsible for her capture.

Limbo. Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Anger. Heresy. Violence. Fraud. Treachery. Dante and his Hellish scythe must cleave the way through these all and in the process confront his own trespasses if he is ever to save the pureness that is Beatrice from the clutches of pure evil!

This is just one of the looks (probably the most bedraggled) that Dante and Virgil sport throughout the movie...

In fairness, borrowing only the smallest of elements from Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece, Dante’s Inferno, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic is written by Joe Goyette and was released in February 2010, featuring segments from six different animation studios, including Film Roman (Dead Space: Downfall), Manglobe (Samurai Champloo), Dongwoo Animation, JM Animation and Production I.G., and is delivered through the eyes of six different directors, including Shuko Murase (Ergo Proxy) and Yasoumi Umetsu (Kite: Liberator).

As mentioned above, the story is pretty much one way traffic in that you basically have Dante starting at point one and hacking and slashing his way through to the final encounter at point b. However, along the way things get interesting as with each new level of Hell comes a bit of backstory which then slowly sheds light on as to how this situation did eventually arise as well as Dante’s rather less than innocent involvement in this whole matter. Of course, the big thing for this sewn together movie is the various realizations of hell and as such, the story manages to get this one nailed down pretty tightly as you are taken on a truly harrowing journey through the underworld. Of course, not all plot ends are explained nor followed fully to their end for that matter, but for the most part by the end of the movie you can be satisfied that a full story has been told, left possible room for a sequel and at that you haven’t just sat through an hour and a half of mindless violence without something to show for it.

In terms of visuals, for the most part Dante’s Inferno really impresses. Film Roman gets things going with some great animated sequences and their particular vision of the demonic hands sewing up Dante is a thing to behold. Manglobe as can be expected churn out some stellar action sequences and stylish backdrops and this is complemented by Production I.G. segment at the end. Unfortunately the character design from the two Korean studios don’t exactly meet my approval, but their capturing of the action as well as the visual look for their respective circles of hell are certainly well worth the look.

As a whole, the film manages to make Hell as repulsive and harrowing as what you can imagine, throwing some disturbing imagery at you whenever it can. The animation remains tight and fluid and as a whole, the whole thing is pretty nicely choreographed, though you do have to make a conscious effort to make the mental leap each time Dante and Virgil take the character design shuffle with each new animation studio crossing. Of course bloodshed and gore are central to the whole Dante’s Inferno experience and as such you need to go into this expecting plenty of blood, severed body parts and spilled guts literally littering the screen – which they do I’ll have you know.

Oh, and do realize that there are plenty of biblical and demonic references to take in. Showing this at a Sunday School camp may not necessarily be a good idea.

Quite frankly, I don’t like the multiple studios handling a movie gig but I will grudgingly admit that Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic had got the formula right. The segments are tightly bound together and form a coherent and single story that is quite enjoyable to sit through. It is a polished release with some great audio in terms of soundtrack and voice acting, some hellishly rendered, effective animation and manages to suck you in and make you sit down and watch from start to finish.

If you love your animation brutal, bloody, stylish and full of fight (with just a tinge of disturbed), you can’t go wrong with Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic.

Who says sewing is for sissy boys?

Meeting your father in hell can never be a good thing, right?

Believe it or not, this is actually one of the more pleasant demons to behold!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante%27s_Inferno:_An_Animated_Epic

About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.