Dante's Inferno anime movie

Get more without giving up the gore

The thing that projects the Dante's Inferno game beyond a mere God of War rip-off is its imaginative, violent, frankly disgusting depiction of Hell.

It's the endless of string of "WTF!?" moments that drive you forward more than anything, a morbid curiosity about what could possibly come next. ("Naked demon babes that shoot spear snakes from between their legs? I've got to see how they top that!")

The Dante's Inferno anime film tips the ratio of action to story in favour of the narrative, as you'd expect. Granted, the story is a simple one; warrior takes on quest to challenge evil and rescue the damsel in distress (who cares if she's already a bit dead), but it allows for detail and characterisation that the game simply doesn't have the capacity to provide.


Probably the best example of this is when Dante finds his wife Beatrice murdered upon his return from the Crusades. The game manages to squeeze this into a short cut-scene where Dante almost brushes over the surprisingly clean massacre at his house. Clearly the objective is to get the player dissecting demons as soon as possible, which is fair enough - we wouldn't want it to get all Metal Gear Solid.

But the film is able to dwell on it much more. A dark, shadowy atmosphere, crows picking at entrails from corpses scattered around the family home and an emotional exchange with Beatrice before she dies, all establish strong foundations for Dante's journey. That's what the film brings to the table, a chance to sympathise with the characters. It provides more depth to their relationships and complexity to their past.

That's not to say that the tale loses any of its gratuitous gore. In fact, it's a reminder that you're never too old to be freaked out by a cartoon.

The anime animation and direction (which changes throughout thanks to contributions from a number of studios) actually emphasises the more gruesome aspects, with the kind of detail you'd miss if you were watching through an in-game camera.

When Dante fights Beatrice's brother in the Seventh Circle of Hell, for example - and finishes him off by slicing his head horizontally in half from just beneath the nose - the whole sequence slows right down and gifts the viewer a variety of different angles.

It's as if the director was anticipating that the viewer would want to rewind. The execution is so devastating on so many levels that you'll find yourself reaching for the remote anyway.

If you want to take Dante beyond the button bashing, if you're looking for a little more than unadulterated violence, this Manga film is for you. The best part is you don't have to give up the gore entirely.

What you've got here is a deeper look at the story, with rich, detailed visuals, that manages to retain, and at times enhance, all those "WTF!?" moments.

The verdict

A visually rich adaptation that is just as daring as the game and in some respects far deeper.