Release Date(s)2016 (January 24, 2017)
Studio(s)Imagine Entertainment/Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C+
Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a Florence hospital with no memory of the past few days. As a local doctor named Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones, of Rogue One fame) is treating him there, an assassin, disguised as a police officer, attempts to kill him. With Brooks’ help, Langdon escapes and begins trying to piece together the mystery of what happened to him. But this effort soon reveals a deeper mystery: It seems that Langdon had been attempting to decode a series of clues, involving a Botticelli painting of Dante’s “Inferno,” that might be the only way to prevent the deliberate release of a pandemic virus that could wipe out the Human race.
Based on the Dan Brown novel, which is itself a sequel to his own The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard’s adaptation of Inferno is a modestly entertaining film. There’s nothing especially remarkable about it, as it follows a formula that by now is fairly standard: Langdon uncovers a mysterious, ticking-clock threat that only his extensive knowledge of ancient history and secret symbols can decipher, which soon finds him running from sinister international forces that are determined to stop him. The fun lies in trying to figure out the puzzles along with Langdon, and seeing him barely escape from one close shave after another. In that sense, these films have a glossy Indiana Jones feel, with Hanks replacing Harrison Ford as the bumbling everyman scholar. The problem is that Hanks is surrounded here by a mostly uncompelling cast of actors (including Jones, though Irfan Khan does his best to elevate this material). Also too generic is the film’s central threat, which would fit better in one of the campier entries in the Bond franchise. But Hanks is certainly likeable enough, as he goes through all the right motions, and Howard’s direction keeps things moving forward at an adequate pace.
Inferno was filmed in ARRIRAW and Redcode RAW formats (3.5/6K) using Arri Alexa XT and Red Epic Dragon cameras. It was finished as a 2K DI and is presented in 4K Ultra HD from Sony, in the proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, following upsampling to 4K and an HDR timing pass. The resulting image is bold looking, with deep shadows and bright highlights; there’s a very nice but natural “pop” to the presentation. Detail is crisp and tight, textures are refined, and the overall color scheme is warm and vibrant. Audio options include English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes in Czech, French (Parisian), French (Québécois), German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin), Thai, and Turkish. Subtitle options are available in those languages and several more. The Atmos mix is smooth, wide, and atmospheric, with excellent clarity. The height channels are mostly used for fill, though they really come alive in early moments involving Langdon’s hallucinations, as well as during the film’s climax in Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern, with its unique acoustics.
Sony’s 4K UHD package also includes a Blu-ray Disc copy with the film in 1080p HD and the following HD extras:
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (7 scenes – 27:19 in all)
- Visions of Hell (5:35)
- Inferno Around the World (13:34)
- A Look at Langdon (6:21)
- This Is Sienna Brooks (5:48)
- The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist (5:13)
- Ron Howard: A Director’s Journal (10:02)
As is all too often the case these days, the extras are glossy and of only passing interest, the kind of thing you might find in an hour-long HBO First Look special. It would definitely be best not to watch this material before you see the film if you want any chance of being surprised. A Digital HD copy code is also included on a paper insert in the packaging.
Inferno is one of those films that’s an amusing diversion for a couple of hours, but that you’re probably going to forget the moment you finish it. Still, if you’re a fan of either this film series or Brown’s original novels, you should find it entertaining enough. Sony’s 4K presentation isn’t what one would call reference quality, but it certainly looks and sounds great, and it’s definitely the best way to experience the film at home.
- Bill Hunt