Commentaries

Thursday, October 27, 2016

INFERNO



THIRD TIME NO CHARM FOR HANKS

Film Review by Fiore 


Professor Langdon, the cryptic symbolist, played by Tom Hanks, is getting better, but he still suffers from the same ailments that plagued his last escapades.  The same can be said of Director Ron Howard.  Dan Brown’s novels expose his Achilles heel as a director; but the problems for INFERNO, the third of Brown’s books to transform to celluloid, begins with Screenwriter David Koepp.

Brown writes intricate plots with a labyrinth of storylines.  The novels, seeped in historical conjecture, often run 400 pages.  In contrast, the average movie script is 120 pages.  It takes a special talent to tell a 400-page tale in 120 pages; and it is the boondoggle of the Langdon film series.  While INFERNO is slightly better than the first two outings, it still suffers, severely, from Koepp attempting to fit too much information into his allotted script.  Thus, INFERNO is mind-numbing.  Once the climatic final reel commences, the lines between antagonist and protagonist are so blurred, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard”, as they say in Cleveland.

This latest episode from a line of tales penned to challenge current religious and literary beliefs, begins with Langdon in a hospital suffering from a head wound and temporary amnesia.  It takes only a few scenes before he discovers there are strong and powerful enemies set on his demise, though he can’t remember why.  Aided by his doctor, Sienna Brooks, played by Felicity Jones, Langdon begins a merry chase through Florence, Italy.  His pursuers include:  Omar Sy; Irrfan Khan and Ana Ularu.  His only ally appears to be Elizabeth Sinskey, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen; but as B.B. King intoned, “she could be jiving, too”, after all, she is one of the dreaded three-name people.

Ben Foster is the main antagonist, but considering he dies in the opening minutes of the film, he appears only in flashback and his role is reduced to a mere cameo.  It is a bit of a shame, for Foster is a talented actor worthy of a much bigger slice of the pie.



KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      VISUALIZATION OF DANTE’S HELL
2.      THE INTERROGATION
3.      ESCAPE FROM THE HOSPITAL

Behind the camera, INFERNO offers a cadre of talent.  Hans Zimmer provides an amazing score with all the energy and pulse of his MIAMI VICE days.  If you’ve never seen Italy, Director of Photography Salvatore Totino provides a panoramic vista of shots better than most travel brochures; besides he also makes great pizza rolls.

Howard must have known he had a problem with the complexity of the story, for he hired two editors, Tom Elkins and Dan Hanley.  Together, they still were unable to salvage a cramped plot. 

Thrillers always have a ‘plot reveal’.  This is when a main character, usually the villain, explains the hows and whys of the story.  Steve Martin and Carl Reiner did a marvelous job of spoofing the plot reveal in DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID.  There is usually one plot reveal during a movie.  By the time INFERNO offers its fourth, viewers are tired of the same old same old, much like the current shenanigans of the presidential election.

Beginning with THE DA VINCI CODE Professor Robert Langdon provides thrills galore, rooted in historical context.  The tales, however, do not translate well to film.  No one yet, despite tapping talent, has successfully adapted the novels to celluloid.  INFERNO is two hours long, but feels more like a week and a half.




THE GRADE FOR INFERNO = C

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