Inferno movie full length review - The book is MUCH better than the movie
This seems to be the popular comment whenever a movie adaptation of a book is released. I myself haven't read too many of the books that have been turned into movies, and of the ones that I have read, the movie versions were fairly decent.
So it comes as quite a shock for me to see a movie adaptation of a book and be sorely disappointed, which is unfortunately the case with Inferno. I hadn't read the books that the two previous movies were based on, I only saw the film versions, and I actually preferred Angels & Demons to The Da Vinci Code. Inferno was the first Dan Brown novel I've read, which I did so once I learned there was a movie version being made and who had been cast. I don't know what the previous two books were like, but for me personally, Inferno was a fantastic read that I couldn't put down. I know some of what Dante's Inferno is about and its fascinating subject matter which allows for some nice disturbing imagery. It felt like it would make a great movie, and I could totally picture the book playing out on screen. Sadly, the changes made are rarely ever for the 'better', contrary to what some opinions may have you believe.
The beginning was the first change I noted, as it pretty much puts out there what the "villain's" motive is right from the beginning, whereas in the book you discover what it's really all about as you read on. I'll admit that Ron Howard's managed to tackle the tricky subject of Robert Langdon's hallucinations that he finds himself with after waking up in a hospital, wounded, with amnesia, quite well. There are some striking images. These visuals could be confusing/might not make complete sense to some, but they convey just how disorientated Tom Hanks' character is. Speaking of, Hanks is obviously comfortable in the role now, this being his third outing. Langdon is a likable guy, though he's a bit snarky at times, but it's never to the detriment of his character. His Langdon is confused and trying to piece things together with the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks played by the lovely Felicity Jones. Yes, she's much younger than Hanks, as have been his previous two leading ladies, deal with it. They aren't paired up in 'that' sort of way. She helps him on his journey of discovering clues regarding how to stop the spread of a virus that Ben Foster's Zobrist believes is the only solution to Earth's overpopulation problem.
Jones' Sienna proves more than a match for Hanks' Langdon, she's intelligent, resourceful, cunning, and is more than she appears...which, unfortunately, is where the movie's first real mistake occurs. The book goes into great detail about Sienna's background and what drives her as a character/the choices she makes, but apart from one flashback scene late into the movie, we're not given nearly enough information about her to really understand the character's motivations. There's a lot more to the character than what the movie would have you believe, and I was particularly disappointed/upset regarding what they did with her at the end. Jones is more than up to the task of portraying this character's complexities, and she has a nice chemistry with Hanks, so it's a shame the movie doesn't dive into her character more. I don't mind changes from book to movie if they make *sense*, but there's really no reason why such a drastic change had to be made with her character. Hopefully Rogue One at the end of the year will better utilize Felicity Jones' talents.
Adding to the above disappointment is the changing of the book's ending as a whole. The message was actually really important, and I was hoping it wouldn't receive the 'Hollywood treatment', but sadly they've gone the predictable route by not sticking to what made the book's ending so great. The movie could've been saved, had they kept the book's ending, but instead it's rather weak/wholly paint-by-numbers and therefore boring.
Along with the two leads, the movie's other benefits are its pace (things seldom slow down until near the end, before the climax), its visuals as mentioned before, and the return of an actually interesting requisite assassin who pursues Langdon. The Da Vinci Code had Paul Bettany's memorable albino monk (I can't recall the second movie's equivalent), and this time we have one in the form of Vayentha. Ana Ularu doesn't get to say much, but she conveys a lot with just her looks and appears ruthless enough in the role. The confrontation between her, Langdon and Sienna above the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio is memorable, especially her demise. I was less fond of the Elizabeth Sinskey character/her relationship with Langdon, which slowed things down near the end. Time could've been better spent elsewhere. Irrfan Khan's 'The Provost' feels as though he's meant to provide the majority of what little 'humour' (albeit of the morbid variety) the movie has, but falls rather short on account of the fact that he tends to mumble/is hard to understand at times. Ida Darvish's Marta, however, is a welcome side character.
Reading a book that I enjoyed immensely, only to have a sub-par movie adaptation of it made is a new experience for me, and not one I'd like to repeat in the future. For those who're wondering whether they should read the book before seeing the movie...see the movie first if you don't wish to be disappointed, as perhaps when taken on its own merit the film isn't that bad. However, if you have a sense of morbid curiosity and wish to see just what's been done to what should've been a great movie, then read the book first. The third option is to imagine the film's cast when reading the book and NOT go see the movie, as that path will only lead to disappointment.