A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Inferno is the third movie about novelist Dan Brown's globe-trotting character Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), the hero of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. It includes nightmarish imagery of a hell on Earth, with twisted, disfigured, diseased people, as well as burning, rivers of blood, and more. There's also fighting, guns and shooting, stabbing, bloody wounds, explosions and falls from heights. Characters betray each other, harm themselves, and die, and the problem of overpopulation is discussed in a scary way. Language isn't frequent but includes a use of "f--k," plus "s--t" and "damn." A couple kisses intimately, but things don't get more graphic than that. Like the previous two Langdon movies, this one is dull and lifeless but will probably be a huge hit.
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What's the story?
In INFERNO, which follows the events of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) speaks about overpopulation and warns of disaster. Then he throws himself from a bell tower and dies. Later, professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a hospital in Florence with no memory of how he got there. A cop bursts into the building, shooting at him; Langdon's doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), helps him escape. He discovers a clue in his jacket, a Faraday pointer that projects an image of Botticelli's Map of Hell. Langdon discovers inconsistencies in it, which turn into clues. Before long, he's on an around-the-world chase, looking for more clues in other artworks -- including Dante's death mask -- with the goal of finding and stopping Zobrist's ultimate plan: wiping out half the world's population with a deadly virus.
Is it any good?
As in the previous movies based on Dan Brown's books, it seems like smart stuff is happening here, but it's really all lifeless and empty, despite the scenic locales. INFERNO starts promisingly. Screenwriter David Koepp, who co-wrote Angels & Demons with Akiva Goldsman but has solo credit here, relies less on explaining every little thing in the kind of stagnant, inert scenes that plagued The Da Vinci Code and Angels. But before long, it's apparent that director Ron Howard and the rest of his cast and crew can do nothing to disguise their apathy and boredom.
Hanks is likable as always, and character actor Irrfan Khan manages some starch in his scenes. But characters rarely connect on an emotional level, and they all simply seem to be working to get through their dialogue. By the time the movie stumbles toward its suspenseless conclusion, Howard and cinematographer Salvatore Totino have devolved into a shaky-cam mess, peppered with dozens of little flashbacks that are all stirred into confusing mush. We can only hope that Howard made Inferno with the promise that, next time, he can make a film he cares about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Inferno's violence. What's the difference between the scenes with fights, shoot-outs, and chases and those with scary depictions of hell on Earth? Do all types of media violence have the same impact?
What's the appeal of the Robert Langdon character? How has he changed or evolved over the course of the three movies? How do the movies compare with the novels they're based on?
Is Dr. Sienna Brooks a strong female character? What are her strengths? What does she do that's less admirable?
The movie addresses the real-life issue of overpopulation. Is this something you were worried about before? Are you now? How could you find out more?
- In theaters: October 28, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: January 24, 2017
- Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality
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