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Inferno Blu-ray + Digital Review

Inferno (2016) movie poster Inferno

Theatrical Release: October 28, 2016 / Running Time: 121 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Ron Howard / Writers: David Koepp (screenplay); Dan Brown (novel)

Cast: Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Felicity Jones (Sienna Brooks), Omar Sy (Christoph Bouchard), Irrfan Khan (Harry Sims), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Elizabeth Sinskey), Ben Foster (Bertrand Zobrist), Ana Ularu (Vayentha), Ida Darvish (Marta Alvarez), Paul Ritter (CRC Tech Arbogast)

Buy Inferno from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital DVD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Instant Video

Splash, Too was made for television without the involvement of the original film's stars or director. The historical Apollo 13 didn't exactly lend itself to a follow-up. But Tom Hanks and Ron Howard were finally able to reunite for a sequel when they made Angels & Demons three years after The Da Vinci Code.
Seven years later, Hanks and Howard reunited again on Inferno, an adaptation of the fourth novel in Dan Brown's series of bestselling novels.

Few would argue that Hanks and Howards' first two Langdon movies inspired anywhere near the passion that Brown's books did. But the first grossed $759 million worldwide and the second earned another $486 M. Neither Hanks nor Howard has recently experienced such massive commercial success outside the franchise. So, here we go again.

After a short prologue, this threequel opens with Langdon (Hanks) in a hospital bed in Florence. He has a head wound and is rather disoriented. He is seeing disturbing visions of an Apocalypse, which is a bit like something the doomsday prophet Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) of the prologue discussed before jumping off a tower to his death while being pursued by men. Langdon is treated by Sienna Brooks (2014 Oscar nominee Felicity Jones, now best known for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), a Brit in Italy who rushes him to safety when a "police officer" approaches firing shots.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) returns with a new haircut and memory problems in "Inferno."

Langdon can't remember what has transcended over the past 48 hours, but Sienna is by his side to assume the leading lady duties held by Audrey Tautou in the first movie. She is a literate enough sidekick to tag along when puzzle-solver Langdon decides to go look for the death mask of the Italian poet Dante, who has history with Florence, a city from which he was exiled. Naturally, Dante's death mask, which has recently been stolen by Langdon (though he doesn't remember doing it), has some instructions written on the back to steer this mystery along. (The other big mystery -- the suspicious disappearance of Langdon's signature hairdo -- goes disappointingly unsolved.)

Langdon is pursued by multiple parties, including Christoph Bouchard (The Intouchables' Omar Sy), a Frenchman who claims he's with the World Health Organization. There is also Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen), a mysterious woman with whom Langdon apparently has a past. Then there is Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan), a colleague of the deceased prophet. Khan steals his every scene as unexpected comic relief.

As usual in these kinds of movies, the world is in jeopardy. Apparently before dying, that fanatical prophet set about a plan to reverse some of the planet's rapid population growth by wiping out half of mankind with a deadly virus. It's up to Langdon and those he can trust to stop it and he fears he may have already been the first one infected.

Irrfan Khan steals scenes as Harry Sims, a covert ally who serves as the film's unlikely comic relief.

David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) fully takes over the screenwriting duties that he shared on the previous movie with Howard's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind scribe Akiva Goldsman (who alone scripted Da Vinci Code). Koepp has a stronger body of work than Goldsman, but he can only be as good as Dan Brown's source text allows. And that isn't terribly good. On film at least, this series has never been one to command respect. Inferno is perhaps less disappointing than the original Da Vinci Code but also less engrossing than Angels & Demons.

This is a mediocre thriller, one that is beneath the talented international cast assembled and also Howard, even though his talents as a director have often been overstated. You can't blame Hanks for collecting an easy paycheck while getting to visit Italy and Eastern Europe. He'd already turned in two of 2016's best performances in Sully and A Hologram for the King.
Nor can you deny the likes of Jones, Sy, and Khan the satisfaction of making a movie that many around the world will see. Even though they've all done that elsewhere, they haven't gotten to work with Hanks before.

Inferno is relatively easy to invest in, whether you're seeing it in "IMAX" as I did at my theatrical screening or now on a television. Its climax, set in Istanbul's Basilica Cistern, is even moderately suspenseful. But this is never a film, always a movie and not such a good one at that.

For all the series' creative failings, you still expected an audience to show up for this one. And it did...internationally. Foreign markets contributed nearly 85% of Inferno's $220 million worldwide earnings. As you can surmise from that, this flopped hard domestically, earning just $34.3 million in North America, about a quarter of Angels & Demons' domestic haul and less than one-sixth of the original Da Vinci Code's gross in the same market. Distributing in most territories around the world, Sony still recovered most if not all of the $75 M production budget. But it's tough to imagine this representing anything but the end of a franchise whose supply clearly exceeded demand this time around. Everyone here should recover, even Howard who has consistently struggled on a commercial level for quite a long time. But Sony obviously wished for better returns in yet another disappointing year for them.

The studio brings this dud to Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD tomorrow.

Inferno: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray ($45.99 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Inferno may have problems but on a technical level, it is a sound production from a major studio. Sony's Blu-ray reflects that, with a pristine, detailed 1.85:1 presentation and a satisfying 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) catch their breath in this deleted scene. Ana Ularu discusses her assassin character in "'Inferno' Around the World."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras begin with an Extended & Deleted Scenes section, which as a sticker on the slipcover indicates, runs over 25 minutes. The seven scenes here run 27 minutes and 19 seconds.
They include a bloody extended opening, more of Langdon's hellish hallucinations, more of Zobrist's overpopulation speech, and an extended ending. While few would argue the movie needed to be longer, these bits aren't significantly worse than what is in the film.

From here, we encounter a number of featurettes. "Visions of Hell" (5:35) considers the disturbing imagery that runs through the film.

"Inferno Around the World" (13:34) moves through the internationally flavored cast to celebrate each of them one at a time and then briefly gather comments on the exotic filming locations. It is both the longest and most general of the featurettes.

"A Look at Langdon" (6:21) takes the pulse of the protagonist, with Dan Brown and Tom Hanks sharing their insight into the character, whose trials in all three films are excerpted.

"This Is Sienna Brooks" (5:48) turns our attentions to the film's leading lady.

Ten years younger and his hair several inches longer, the Robert Langdon of "The Da Vinci Code" is seen in "A Look at Langdon." Ron Howard's behind-the-scenes tweet is immortalized in "A Director's Journey."

"The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist" (5:13) devotes time to a villain who supplies a mostly posthumous presence on the film.

Finally, "Ron Howard, A Director's Journey" (10:02) shares tweets, Instagram posts, and remarks from the filmmaker documenting his experiences making Inferno,
with behind-the-scenes footage complementing it.

The disc opens with a promo explaining Digital HD and trailers for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Passengers, The Magnificent Seven, and Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich. The latter three are repeated via the menu's "Previews" listing.

The scored, static menu adapts the poster art that has been recycled for the cover. As I recall when having it up before my screening, there is a lot to comment upon this crudely photoshopped key art.

Holding your combination digital HD and Sony Rewards code, a code for another Sony movie for $4.99 plus shipping, a booklet advertising the book, the previous installments, and Bolla wines (with a $1 coupon and a $2 mail-in rebate), and a full-color disc, the side-snapped keepcase slides into a glossy slipcover reproducing the same artwork below.

These international mysteries don't solve themselves. They require Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and, in this installment, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

One of 2016's bigger bombs, Inferno suffers from the same shortcomings of its two predecessors. This time around, moviegoers were not willing to forgive the faults that critics have always been quick to point out. The result is a franchise-ending thriller with more style than substance which wastes a cast that is too talented for such middling material.

Sony's Blu-ray provides a first-rate feature presentation, a lengthy deleted/extended scenes section, and an additional 45 minutes of making-of featurettes. But only Robert Langdon completists should be compelled to buy this.

Buy Inferno from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + Digital / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
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Written by David Koepp: Premium Rush Ghost Town Spider-Man Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Tom Hanks: Sully A Hologram for the King Forrest Gump Captain Phillips Bridge of Spies | Ben Foster: Hell or High Water
Felicity Jones: The Theory of Everything Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Like Crazy The Invisible Woman Cheri Cemetery Junction Brideshead Revisited
Irrfan Khan: The Lunchbox Life of Pi The Amazing Spider-Man Jurassic World | Omar Sy: The Intouchables Good People Burnt

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Reviewed January 23, 2017.



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