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Massawyrm goes to hell and brings back a review of the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the animated DANTE'S INFERNO

Hola all. Massawyrm here. First things first: in order to get any enjoyment out of this film whatsoever, you have to divorce yourself from the film’s title. This is NOT Dante Alighieri’s DIVINE COMEDY. Not even fucking close. It is to THE DIVINE COMEDY as 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT TOU was to TAMING OF THE SHREW or THE 13TH WARRIOR was to BEOWULF. In fact if anyone truly captured the spirit of Electronic Arts adaptation of the classic work, it was the geniuses over at PENNY ARCADE who drew this brilliant comparison.



Once you can wrap your mind around what that film above (based upon the book by my great-great-great grand uncle) would look like, you get a pretty good idea of what this is. Based more upon their own video game adaptation than the original work, the film centers around our hero Dante, who returns from the crusades to find his love Beatrice dying and everyone else on his estate slaughtered. Almost immediately he discovers that the Devil himself has come for her and Dante decides to descend into hell itself to bring her back. If you have issues with anime or video games, this film is decidedly NOT for you. Structure exactly like a video game, Dante meets Virgil who acts more as his Cortana than a guide, explaining each new level of hell to him and telling him what he has to do in order to get to the next level. This is followed by scenes of carnage as Dante kicks the crap out of the demons of hell, runs into old acquaintances and begins to learn about his own sins in life which he has either conveniently chosen to forget or hasn’t accepted as actually being sins (the film isn’t entirely clear.) Ironically, the story is more of an action packed version of the Orpheus tale (most famously set to verse by the aforementioned Virgil) than it is Dante’s tour through the three levels of the afterlife.
As a story the film is repetitive, boring and a exactly the kind of piecemeal assemblage that you expect out of video games, but this time without the controller and interactivity to allow a certain level of forgiveness. Everything done here from a storytelling perspective has been borrowed from other, better sources. Take the better parts of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER and KILL BILL and then sprinkle in the occasional element from the DIVINE COMEDY and you get an idea of exactly how this feels – and can’t help but think of the comparisons while you’re watching it. There is nothing here in this film that isn’t done better somewhere else. Fortunately for DANTE’S INFERNO the animation is at times incredible and their vision of hell often disturbing and fascinating to look at. This is moving art, with plenty of beautiful sequences that will appeal to fans of Christian Mythology and animation fans alike. All of the originality is in the look and feel, neither of which is reminiscent of a videogame. Take a look at this trailer for the game:
All of that is present in the film – every last bit of it, in fact. But none of it feels copied. It all feels very organic in the anime style it is made in – which of course changes every once in a while as different directors step in, as is becoming the custom on these projects. Wonderfully evocative and occasionally disturbing, it hits everything it is aiming at visually while hitting nothing it is aiming for emotionally. The perfect kind of film to throw on in the background during a party, but nothing to get very excited about sitting down to watch by yourself, DANTE’S INFERNO is a mixed bag with few surprises that may appeal to some, but nowhere near all. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 5, 2010, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Isn't there a game coming out about Dante's Inferno?...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...that looks more interesting...lots of potential there.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 8:57 a.m. CST

    ...should have finished the article. I shamed myself.

    by FlickaPoo

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:02 a.m. CST

    You're really related to Melville, Massa?

    by chimpjnr

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:02 a.m. CST

    Looks great

    by Daremo

    The game that is. I have to say, I'm not a fan of Anime, but this looks like it will hold my interest.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:04 a.m. CST

    ...I always wanted to be the kind of guy who would...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...read L'INFERNO...but man, what a grind.<P>You're better off with PARADISE LOST.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Massa's reviewing this?

    by Nice Marmot

    Wow, that's an odd title for a chick flick.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:09 a.m. CST

    THAT GAME LOOKS SICK AS ALL FUCK

    by BringingSexyBack

    I've been following it for months now. The wait is almost over. <P> Flicka - did you get your 360 yet?

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:12 a.m. CST

    "everything you'd expect from a video game"

    by movieManiac

    theres some brilliant storytelling in videogames Massa. Just because your exposure to video games is call of duty, dante's inferno and wii sports doesn't make you an expert on the subject. Do some fucking research next time instead of licking Ebert's ass.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Eh, I'll just watch Supernatural instead...

    by Judge Briggs

    On season 4- can't stop watching it! Why doesn't the show get covered here?

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Wii SPORTS RESORT IS FANTASTIC

    by BringingSexyBack

    Fun as fuck.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:18 a.m. CST

    ...not yet SexyBack...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...DVD player died so we had to get one of the newfangled fancypants Superdisk players instead. Hated to do it, but it does make tings look all sparkly.<P> I'll be hitting you up for a list of games when the time comes...

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Not the book...?

    by MJohnson

    Not interested.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Christian mythology.

    by Ingeld

    I am betting that Christ isn't even mentioned at all in the movie. If not it would say a lot about our cultural sensitivities that in a film that is rooted (at least) in this most Christian text-- outside of the gospels-- that depicting Lucifer and demons are fine while presenting any notion of Christ as a savior will be glossed over. Of course, Massawyrm, correct me if I am wrong. Is Christ mentioned, and if so in what way?

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:22 a.m. CST

    movieManiac

    by Massawyrm 1

    Before you begin lecturing people on the "brilliant storytelling" in videogames, perhaps you could learn the proper use of Quotation Marks. That's the word for these " " things. They are punctuation marks used to designate quotes. It is customary only to put them around things people ACTUALLY FUCKING SAID - not what works so you can stand on your soapbox and yell about your personal issues. I'll make you a deal: you tell me the games that you think are brilliant examples of storytelling and I'll tell you who and what they ripped off to create that "piecemeal assemblage." Deal? (Spoiler: I've played a lot more video games than you think I have.)

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:24 a.m. CST

    Ingeld

    by Massawyrm 1

    Dante bears a cross reported to contain a thorn from the crown of Christ. He uses it to absolve people of their sins and free them from Hell.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:31 a.m. CST

    @Judge Briggs : Careful! People have been banned

    by V'Shael

    for even mentioning that show. <p> We don't know why, since the reasons for bans are never discussed either. Better to play it safe, and discuss the show in The Zone. (That barren abandoned wasteland of AICN which virtually no one has heard of) <p> Season 4 is the peak, IMO. Season 5 hasn't touched it yet, but it might.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Re: Masswyrm

    by Ingeld

    Thanks for the response. If I understand it correctly, that detail you mention is so contrary to Christian belief and the very notion of what the Inferno is and the notion of salvation. It sets up Dante as an agent of salvation and it undermines the notion of hell as a place of permanent alienation from God. If people can be redeemed from Hell, then Hell is not Hell. It is Purgatory or something else.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:34 a.m. CST

    @Ingeld : Christians don't have a monopoly on Lucifer

    by V'Shael

    It would be quite possible to have a movie featuring Lucifer which didn't feature Jesus at all. <p> Just because the movie isn't taking the view that Christianity is correct, doesn't mean it is somehow insulting Christians. Anymore than every Santa movie insults Jews.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Great Storytelling in Video Games

    by Dave I

    I'm not movieManiac, nor defending him, but I think there are a few examples of good (not sure if I'd say "brilliant or not, but compelling for sure) storytelling out there. In no particular order:<p><p>Silent Hill. Mainly part II, although part I was good as a story. Sure it ripped off (I prefer inspired by) other media, but it was still a great couple of games with some real motivation and a great story.<p><p>Final Fantasy VII. Not necessarily a huge FF fan, just haven't gotten to play many, but I'd say FF was pretty good with some nice plot and twists and yes, I cried when Aeris died (o.k., maybe not, but it still made an impact).<p><p>Shadow of the Colossus. That is a pretty epic game. Hell, it's an epic story that I'd love to see as a movie. Except they'd probably screw it up. But truly a game that made me think about character motivation and the rights or wrongs of the story. I'd argue it's likely my best example of great storytelling in video games<p><p>I'm sure there are others I'm missing out. I only write because, in the off chance Massawyrm responds to this (or anybody else), I'm curious if you find something like Silent Hill with Harry's search for his daughter and the cult-ish stuff, or James search for his dead(?) wife, or the creation of a new world and mythology in Shadow of the Colossus to be "hack jobs" and uncompelling on a storytelling because you just find video games to be without exception a poor vehicle for good stories, or if you find any exceptions and just base it on most video games being about fun and the instant payoff? Obviously I disagree with Massa and Ebert, while acknowledging their arguments are probably right 99% of the time. That 1% has some stories I find as compelling in their own right as some really good books and movies I've seen or read.<p><p>-Cheers

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Inferno is mostly satire, not at all

    by Dingbatty

    grim and serious as people's assumptions. Heck, Hell itself is shaped like a butt and asshole, with Lucifer stuck in the hole. Demons run about making trumpeting fanfare with their flatulence.<p>They seriously need to teach late Medieval and Renaissance lit in public school, because our society has a profound misunderstanding of either.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:44 a.m. CST

    FLICKA

    by BringingSexyBack

    Ya - let me know. Finished Bayonetta and now playing the older Devil May Cry 4 (same developer). It's great so far - just started. But REALLY looking forward to Dante's Inferno. Checked out Dark Siders but it looked fairly pedestrian compared to Dante's, so I'll pass until it goes down to $20 used ...

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:46 a.m. CST

    re: V'Shael

    by Ingeld

    If you are going to present a Lucifer in the Inferno, then you are referencing the Christian devil. Lucifer's Jewish antecedents are sketchy at best--perhaps referring to a fallen king of Babylon. His pagan ones--likewise sketchy. His references in Islam are much later and are a borrowing from Christian beliefs. If you are talking a full blown Lord of the underworld named Lucifer then you are talking the Christian mythos.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Dave I

    by Massawyrm 1

    I like FF7, although admittedly like the story of FF8 better. (Trigger ongoing endless debate here). I don't hate games or their stories, but there are only a small handful of game storylines that are truly original. Like the book ERAGON, when you take the story in over a long period of time it feels fresh and different because the details capture your attention, not the core story. But when you boil that down to two hours you realize "Holy shit, this is just star wars with Dragons. Wow, never noticed that before."

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Storytelling in videogames...

    by MCVamp

    There are about five games that actually tell a decent, believable story within the context of their gameplay. Five games ever. (Not counting text adventures or games based on movies/books.) And if you bring up METAL GEAR SOLID, FINAL FANTASY, or HALO, I may shoot milk through my nose, so tread lightly.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Dingbatty.

    by Ingeld

    If your butt is in the shape of a large cone then you need to see a physician, pronto.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:49 a.m. CST

    MASSA - YOU SHOULD GET DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS

    by BringingSexyBack

    You would love it.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:52 a.m. CST

    BringingSexyBack

    by Massawyrm 1

    I have it. What little time I've had to play it proves you right. i do love it.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:52 a.m. CST

    God Of War had a pretty damn good story-line.

    by theycallmemrtibbs

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:54 a.m. CST

    MASSA - YOU'RE RIGHT ABOUT TIME

    by BringingSexyBack

    Need at least 4 to 5 hours to commit for any sitting. Takes a while.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Massa, Fair Enough

    by Dave I

    First, most video games are not very epic. But when I find one that is (I'll take SH I or II for example played late at night the first time through, or Shadow of the Colossus), I find they CAN be quite compelling, and the stories really stick with me. I think the interactive nature, if done right, and the longer periods of time spent in the game, make for a very lasting experience.<p><p>I'll skip Eragon. I see your point though. There are very few original storylines in any medium. But when you find one, regardless of if it's a movie, book, comic, or video game, if done properly they can be just flat-out awesome. So I guess I'm not really disagreeing with you.<p><p>Except about Final Fantasy. VIII over VII? Really? (Just kidding. I liked them both.)<p><p>-Cheers

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:59 a.m. CST

    So Massawyrm, you're related to MOBY?

    by D.Vader

    Does he spin for you guys at family reunions?

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:01 a.m. CST

    My reasoning, by the way...

    by MCVamp

    Character based action/adventure games are about the emotional identification you make with the main character. You don't have to have a great overall story to have situations that connect you to the character. It's just a series of moments in between well-designed, addictive gameplay. That's why video game scripts can be silly, stupid, derivative, or all over the place and still seem like good stories. 90% of what you do in a game doesn't involve story, it's a series of action beats broken up by small doses of narrative. Those small doses are enough to carry most games. I think well-made characters are more important to the experience than the overall story arc. The story of FINAL FANTASY is kinda ridiculous. But Aeris's death wasn't sad because of the STORY, it was because you liked the CHARACTER and had spent hours upon hours of gameplay interacting with that character even as the story simply followed "quest for the bad guy". Shutting up now.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Mass Effects 1 & 2 are good examples...

    by 1FearlessJay

    Granted, neither could exist if sci-fi franchises like Star Trek or Blade Runner didn't preceed them. But Star Trek wouldn't exist without Forbidden Planet. But like Star Trek, Mass Effect has created it's own universe with it's own history and rules unlike the stories that influenced it.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:10 a.m. CST

    I looked at the artist's book who inspired this

    by D.Vader

    Actually, that artist, whose name escapes me, has been painting dark landscapes of Hell for years, and he may have been brought on as a conceptual artist. Either that or they mimicked his style (I remember seeing him mentioned in a bts video).<p> I first looked at the book when I interned at Scott Free, so I'm sure Ridley Scott is a fan of his work too. Lots of freaky stuff in there, like demons' houses made from bricks comprised of crushed human bodies and skins.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Fuck this shit -- Bioshock 2 comes out next week

    by RandomWordRandomWord

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Other games:

    by wobbot_dot_com

    Baldurs gate II Indiana jones and the fate of Atlantis grim fandango monkey island II Dig I'd say all of those had pretty amazing stories.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Mass effect series

    by MariusXe

    I don't know. The storys are pretty thin. Its always the "protect the galaxy from the evil alien race everybody believes to be an urban myth" thing, which we have seen before. What makes mass effect great are the characters! It has really the best characters ever in a game. You really feel something if something awful happens to them or if they die, which is a big thing for a game. I really love Grunt by the way. he was my me2 fave. so, yeah, mass effect is great, but it has not so much to do with the story but with the way the characters are written and how you interact with them. The story is good, but not great.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Oh yeah, Bioshock was great

    by MariusXe

    storywise for a fps! "Would you kindly?" was a twist as great as i have rarely seen. And I liked the story of Kane and lynch, which wasn't great but pretty nice in a tarantino film noir kinda way.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Melville was your Great-Grand Uncle.?

    by workshed

    Massa, you are now the living personification of the drop in educational and literary standards.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Suikoden

    by cyberskunk

    I liked the story for Suikoden 2, although I found the bit with the fireflies seems inspired from Chinese history. I am well aware the first game was vaguely based on Water Margin/Outlaws of the Marsh.<p> I like how most characters in Suikoden V had reasons for doing what they were doing other than "I want to destroy things because I'm a bad guy". But I couldn't stand to play through it more than once.<p>You know the scene in John Boorman's Excalibur where Modred is saying, "That's the only thing of yours I don't want!" etc.? In Suikoden II, there is a bad guy called Yuber who says, right before a battle between armies, "You scum! How dare you defy me! I'll kill you all!" In my dream version of a live-action Suikoden II, the actor portraying that character reads his lines in a similar way to Modred, and with the same accent. It would be High Cheese, I think.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 11:42 a.m. CST

    I hate Anime........

    by D o o d

    but this looks interesting.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 11:43 a.m. CST

    originally thought it was related to devil may cry

    by Meadowe

    The wiki page makes it (the game) seem a bit interesting. Ill play it a lil when one of my Meadowechlorians gets it. I didn't know there was a bluray, ill give that a peek.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 11:53 a.m. CST

    you didn't mention MARK HAMILL IS IN THIS!

    by Meadowe

    According to the summary on bestbuy.com he is.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Plot vs. Storytelling in video games

    by dr sauch

    I think video games can have great PLOTS, but, by their nature, they can't achieve great storytelling. Lets take a great, immersive, open-ended game like Mass Effect. There is a great plot about the genesis of life, sentient machines, the rise of humanity as a galactic force, etc. The parts in between the major plot points are not told to you, you play though them. There's a fundamental difference between the videogame experience and the experience of watching/reading a great story. That's the point!

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 12:41 p.m. CST

    James Joyce's Ulysses, by Capcom

    by PTSDPete

    It's a fighting game.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 12:46 p.m. CST

    D.Vader..Wayne Barlowe

    by THEoverfiend

    I bought a portfolio of sorts of his and it has some of the best/most original concepts of Hell I've ever seen.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Didnt like it either.

    by Human_Bean_Juice_

    just going to boss after boss. Like watching my little brother play playstation.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:15 p.m. CST

    And Dante was a total prick in this.

    by Human_Bean_Juice_

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Anyone remember Parasite Eve for the ol' Ps1

    by skimn

    Was that based on a book, or an anime, or was an anime based on the game, or wha? Max Payne had a pretty good storyline told in a comic strip/film noir manner that the movie totally fucked up. I'm just starting Mass Effect 2...and loving it..Bioshock 2, God Of War 3, Hard Rain...what a great month ahead for a gamer.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:21 p.m. CST

    by D.Vader

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Wayne Barlowe, that's him THEoverfiend. Great artist.

    by D.Vader

    I knew he had some awesome sounding name, though in my head I kept thinking Marlowe.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Game Storytelling

    by Toonol

    Every medium has its unique way of presenting stories. Books can use prose, introspection, description; movies show actions and progress the plot visually.<p> Games present the story interactively, through choices and gameplay. It's fine, but would suck for a movie, in the same way filming a character thinking about potatoes as they walk across Mordor for two hours would suck.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 1:43 p.m. CST

    dr sauch

    by Dave I

    But look at something like Indigo Prophecy, or (feeling deja vue coming on?) Silent Hill where things are scripted, others are you running around finding/killing stuff, but a lot of it is done for the payoff of the story, either cut scenes or narratives/scenes while you do stuff that is important. So I'll still argue that there can be, and in some instances is some pretty good storytelling that to me would be worth repeating. I've even rewatched the endings to the SH games on YouTube. SH1 was flat-out awesome (the fight and the cut-scenes). SH2 was touching and even the bad ones were haunting in their own way. That was every bit as good of storytelling to me as a good book, movie, or series finale.<p><p>Not that I don't see your point, I just see it a tad bit different.<p><p>-Cheers

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Total Aside; That Moby Dick Poster

    by Dave I

    One of the coolest things I've seen in a while. I love good satire.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 2:49 p.m. CST

    How dare you not mention the most crucial bit of information

    by ScottGreen

    A mounted knight (Dante) does a barrel roll with his horse in the opening minutes

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 2:56 p.m. CST

    the demo is pretty cool to play

    by antonphd

    i downloaded it on the 360 a while back. i make video games for a living and it's kind of like being a magician watching another magician. this is one of the few games i've played in which i was caught up in the game so much i was actually just experiencing the game. i'm looking forward to spending all day next tuesday playing a game instead of working on making one.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 7:19 p.m. CST

    This review could be about any anime film, really

    by IAmLegolas

    Great to look at, but the story not so much. Kind of like a Tim Burton movie. Thank you, I'll be here all night.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:09 p.m. CST

    Mass Effect's storyline is way better than Avatar

    by Stalkeye

    Anyone that dares to play the sequel better set aside 50 free hours to beat this thing. It's hands down the best game of the year so far. And yes, i cant wait to get my hands on the other long awaited sequel...Bioshock 2!! 2010 is looking good so far.

  • Feb. 5, 2010, 9:19 p.m. CST

    After playing the Demo, I'm sold on Dante's Inferno

    by Stalkeye

    This(Army of Two 40th day, Dark Void,Bayonetta,Tatsunoko vs capcom,no more heroes 2 and Mass Effect) will hold me over till God of War 3 comes out.Like I said, 2010 is lQQking greeaaaattt!!

  • Feb. 6, 2010, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Half Life 2

    by The_Crimson_King

    has better storytelling than most movies of the last decade

  • Feb. 9, 2010, 9:54 a.m. CST

    ok Massawrym i'll bite.

    by movieManiac

    so yes, you didn't say exactly what I quoted. I guess that was a huge error on my part. Perhaps more than writing off an entire medium of entertainment eh? But heres one game which I think has superior storytelling to many movies. Its called Grim Fandango, Lucasarts and Tim Schafer. Played it?

  • Feb. 9, 2010, 10:12 a.m. CST

    few more

    by movieManiac

    How about Psychonauts? Another Tim Schafer game. More Recent? Mass Effect? All the Fallout games? Shadow of the Colossus was minimal in theme, gameplay and storytelling, but a great experiment nonetheless. Assassins Creed 2 expertly weaves sci-fi with key historical figures in the Renaissance. The Persona series of JRPG's are pretty good too if you're into that sort of thing. Thats more than 5 eh? And theres more.

  • Feb. 9, 2010, 3:29 p.m. CST

    antonphd

    by KILLALITRE

    thank you to the jettl93 of videogaming.

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