Directed by Mike Disa, Victor Cook, Shukou Murase, Jong-Sik Nam, Lee Seunggyu, Kim Sangjin and Yasuomi Umetsu
Featuring the Voices of Graham McTavish, Vanessa Branch, Steven Blum, Peter Jessop, Victoria Tennant and Mark Hamill
First off, do not expect The Divine Comedy. Don’t even try. Just take God of War and replace Greek mythology with Christianity. If you’re good with that, you’re good to go.
The film follows Dante as a knight from the Crusades, returning home to find his father Alighieri and fiancée Beatrice murdered and Lucifer himself stealing Beatrice’s soul. Dante pursues Lucifer all the way to Hell (also repeatedly referred to as “the Inferno”), meeting Virgil at the gate who acts as his guide through all nine circles.
This was fun to watch. It’s cheesy and over the top. If you’re a fan of late ‘80s-early ‘90s original video anime titles with gratuitous violence, explicit nudity and little character development, then this is for you.
While it’s unrated, you can put this testosterone power trip in the mature column. Dante goes to town tearing apart demons, devils and dead souls alike, all of which having far too much blood for no longer being alive, but questioning that defeats the point. Don’t think too hard and enjoy the blood fest.
As for the nudity, you get a lot of breast exposure, but that’s it. Beatrice has varying levels of undress, and that’s even before you get to the circle of lust, which is pretty much what you would expect. Never any outright sex, but the film comes close.
If none of that piqued your interested, I have three words for you: Extending. Claw. Penises.
If you’re still not feeling it, this isn’t for you. It’s a simple damsel in distress tale. It’s shallow and random. Things happen without an attempt at an explanation because no one cared. The pacing can be slow at times, mainly in between fights. Yet for a supposed epic, it’s pretty short at 88 minutes.
The characters range from bland to unlikeable. Dante is less of an exploring poet and more of a muscle-bound psychopath cutting his way through Hell. And he’s a dick. The film tries to redeem him, but it comes off as lip service at best. His father is a dick too, but he’s also Mark Hamill so that’s OK.
While this is most certainly not the same tale from The Divine Comedy, anyone familiar with the work will recognize occasional references. The main characters who come anywhere close to their namesakes though are Virgil, who actually is the Roman poet, and Lucifer, who is of course Lucifer.
The acting is the kind of mix between over the top and bland you would expect from this type of work. Graham McTavish’s Dante is very theatrical and overacted, which is just about perfect except that he sounds a bit too old. Vanessa Branch’s Beatrice is instead underacted, which helps even less to make anyone care about her.
The more veteran voice actors of Steve Blum (Lucifer) and Mark Hamill (Alighieri) bring their expected level of acting to the table and do decent jobs.
By promoting itself with six directors and six versions of hell, the movie tries to come off as a multi-studio anthology from Japan and ride the coattails of The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight. Not quite. It’s really just one complete story, with different segments divided between six directors from different studios. There is technically a seventh director, the supervising director Mike Disa, overseeing the project.
As I’m sure is true in the game, more cerebral elements like a solid story and interesting characters are less important when compared to the visceral enjoyment of just tearing through demons on a trek through hell (with the occasional boobs). Just give those mental synapses a rest and enjoy the simpler things in life, like violence and lust. Wait a moment. Those are circles of Hell. I see what they did there.
The film is in anamorphic widescreen 1:78:1.
As expected, the animation widely varies, from skinny pretty boy Dante with long, flowing hair straight out of Reign: the Conqueror to short, bulky, ‘roid-rage Dante reminiscent of The Dark Knight Returns.
Unfortunately, as varied as the styles are, so is the quality. Some segments are smoother and appear to have a couple of more frames of animation per second, while others are stiff and blocky, not even animating enough lip flaps for the dialog. I’m particularly disappointed in the Production I.G. segment because of that. None of it is outright stunning enough to earn high marks.
The AVC encoded 1080p presentation on the blu-ray offers up more vivid color and finer detail than the DVD presentation. Black levels are nice and inky and textures featured well defined lines. There are only just a few instances of banding in the animation here and there. The image here is much better than that of the DVD but the animation is from the source material and that continues to play a part in the overall video presentation. Taking stills of the movie would look like a painting though.
4.5/10 The Blu-Ray 6.5/10
Only in English. It comes in 5.1 surround sound. It doesn’t do anything particularly good or bad with it. The soundtrack is completely forgettable, consisting only of background instrumentals and chorus.
The Blu-Ray offers up a Dolby 5.1 TrueHD presentation that sometimes offers a nice immersive well balanced listening experience but other times the effects jump out of the speakers substantially louder than the rest of the film. This causes you to ride the volume in a few places. Overall there’s good use of the surround speakers and dialogue is crisp and clean. It’s not perfect but it gets the job done.
4.5/10 The Blu-Ray 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Standard DVD case with a cardboard slip cover. The fronts of the DVD cover and the cardboard slip cover have the same image of Dante but in different art styles. Plus the cardboard cover features a raised Dante and title on top of a rippled texture akin to a book cover. This added effort is a nice touch.
All the spine and back art is the same though. The back does have an inconsistency with the DVD credits. The DVD case leaves the “u” off the end of director Shukou Murase given name. I would suspect this is less of a typo and more of just inconsistencies in Romanizing Japanese names, but this should have been caught.
Inside the case are simply ads for the game and an upcoming comic based off of the property. The disc itself is bland with no artwork.
Extras include animatics for several different scenes. Basically just animated storyboards with some dialog played over. Of course, there’s also the trailer for the video game this film is promoting.
My favorite bonus feature, though unintended, is the menu. The fiery logo and sound effects give my room a soothing fireplace ambiance.
In my opinion, this could do with a great commentary track. It’s so cheesy and over the top. I’d love to hear Mark Hamill blast the whole thing. Alas, you’ll just have to rely on you and your friends for that.
There’s nothing additional on the Blu-Ray, what a disappointment…
This film is meant to simply show off the gore, nudity and ridiculousness that viewers can expand upon in the video game. Anyone wanting anything more will be disappointed. Being a direct-to-DVD commercial though, it’s not bad. It doesn’t try to be great in any respect, but it does a decent job in some and overall.
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10
The Film 6.5/10
The Video 4.5/10
The Audio 4.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10