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March 14, 2018

Inferno (2016) --- "Paying Attention In Art History Could Reveal A Genocidal Plot."

Plot Summary
Famous symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows a trail of clues tied to Dante, the great medieval poet. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman (Ben Foster) from unleashing a virus that could wipe out half of the world's population. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Inferno (2016) is the third film in the franchise directed by Ron Howard and based on the novel series, of the same name, by Dan Brown. Moviegoers know that the third film in a series is most likely the worst, yet that is not the case with Inferno as it is undeniably better than The Da Vinci Code (2006) and is one of the best thrillers of 2016. The danger is imminent, the characters are more developed, and the story is better constructed with more twists and puzzles.
     The story is intricate and well laid out with an ending that makes sense and is perfectly fitting. Inferno starts out with an elaborate view of Robert Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) confused mind that sets a premise for how the rest of film plays out. In other words, throughout the previous two films we saw the nonstop and intellectual mind of Langdon, and while we see the same intelligence here the idea of Langdon being subject to retrograde amnesia – is a loss of memory-access to events that occurred, or information that was learned, before an injury or the onset of a disease 1 – provides a new twists to a familiar chase. It increases the ante throughout. The music is impressive, what else can you expect from Hans Zimmer, and makes up for a bit of a lack in the visual department. The cinematography was great in this film, not the same as Angels & Demons (2009) but beautiful. When you are shooting in beautiful locations like Florence, Venice, and Istanbul you would want to take advantage of the location by highlighting the beauty of the scene’s background. In other words, the visuals were good but they could have been a bit better., especially when you compare it to the last film. Now on to the characters.
     Tom Hanks is once again great as symbologist and art and history professor, Robert Langdon. While some viewers believe that he sleepwalks through this film, I believe that this is his best film in the series. In The Da Vinci Code (2006) we are first introduced to his character and we get to see him on his first treasure/mystery hunt. In Angels & Demons, we are familiar with who he but now it’s time to put his intellect to the test. Now in Inferno, we see a side we have not seen yet, a broken and confused side to his character. He is unsure what’s going on and what happened to him, only that he is now being forced to solve a series of puzzles and stop a mass genocide. As aforementioned, this is his best film in the series. The supporting cast is great as well. Felicity Jones (Rogue One) as Dr. Sienna Brooks is outstanding, Irrfan Khan’s (Life of Pi) quirky-nature adds as comic relief, and Danish actor Sidse Babett Knudsen (Westworld) is pleasant to watch. The only issue with the characters is with Ben Frost’s character as the billionaire psychopath Zobrist. Now Ben Frost is a talented actor so the issue is not with his portrayal of this role but rather with the lack of action his character receives. His character could have been better used in this film.
     Now as great as these actors and the film crew are, all of their skill and cultural influence combined cannot touch the significance that medieval Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, has reached. Dante, similar to William Shakespeare, invented a new kind of poetry by creating new forms of rhyming and choosing to write in his native Florentine dialect rather than Latin. As a result of his popularity throughout Italy, Dante’s poetry became the basis for modern Italian. His most famous work and the basis for this film is his epic poem and “Divine Comedy” called Dante’s Inferno which tells the story of Dante’s journey through the multiple layers of hell, purgatory, and heaven. He created an invaluable historical document and illustrated the soul’s journey from sin to God’s grace. Other than the Bible, Dante’s descriptions of the various locations in the afterlife gives us a modern image as to what those places could look like. In addition, the people depicted in the poem were based on real people he knew, so by seeing where they appear in the story, we can get an idea as to what he thought of each person. It’s no wonder why Dan Brown chose to use this poem and even Dante himself as the backstory to the novel and ultimately the film itself.
     Overall, Inferno (2016) is without a doubt the best film in the series, some people may not agree but this is my opinion. Not only are the characters, locations, and music fittingly perfect but the backstory has never been better, it is both theologically deep and an action-packed thriller. If you enjoyed the last two films or if you enjoy a good puzzle chase then there is no doubt that you will enjoy this film too. 

“There is a switch. If you throw it, half the people on earth will die, but if you don't, in 100 years, the human race will be extinct. You are humanity's final hope.”

- Bertrand Zorbist

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  9 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  9 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Angels & Demons (2009)
Brothers Grimm (2005)
Celestine Prophecy (2006)
Contact (1997)
Da Vinci Code (2006)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Godzilla (2014)
Gone Girl (2014)
Hannibal (2001)
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Inferno (2016)
Interview with a Vampire
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Megiddo: The Omega Code II (2001)
National Treasure (2004)
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
The Omega Code (1999)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

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