Hellscape: In this remake of Dante’s Inferno, the remains of post-apocalyptic Earth live underground to survive the radiation-poisoned surface world. So many centuries have passed since humanity has moved to the Underworld that no one remembers what life above was like. No written history exists, having been lost in the nuclear holocaust, but images of a world with green flowered fields, rolling mountains, bright blue skies, swirling sun & ocean stretching to the horizon persist in stories passed down through the generations. Most believe these are myths, but a teenager named Dante, tormented with dreams of Beatrice, a beautiful mythic goddess, believes he–as Beatrice has instructed–should leave the Underworld for the surface. Everyone thinks he’s crazy to try such a thing–everyone except a “mecha” called V.I.R.G.I.L. (a Virtual Integrated Robotic Gizmo Intelligence Learning unit) who, having been to the surface on military reconnaissance missions, says he will serve as guide. In a nod to the poetry of the Inferno, as well as Willy Wonka’s beloved Oompa Loompas, V.I.R.G.I.L. will often impart great wisdom in rhymes. Battling through legions of doomed humanity with explosions of sheer pyrotechnic artistry, Dante & his mechanical guide–with the invaluable advice the ghostly vision of Beatrice provides–eventually reach the surface, where it’s just like the teenager’s dreams, all beautiful & stuff, with flowers all over the place & puffy white clouds tumbling by, one of which, taking Beatrice’s benign likeness, smiles knowingly. As the credits roll, a kick-ass rock ballad plays.
Limbo: In this adventure, two insurance executives–Virgil, vice president of Fidelity Life & his young protégé, Dante–set out on a mountain climbing expedition of Mt. Purgatory, a pre-wedding gift to the latter, who next week plans to marry his longtime sweetheart & total hottie, Beatrice. Unlike most action movies, Limbo (which may not mean the same thing but is a catchier, hipper title than Purgatory) will be shot in a formalist style, rendering surrealistic images that readily lend themselves to allegory. For instance, shortly after the avalanche, symbolically wrath, Virgil & Dante fortuitously meet Sordello, a sort of Sherpa of the Pacific Northwest, his own party lost in the falling rocks of pride, who, after helping the two friends through the treacherous crevasses of sloth & the ice slopes of envy, joins them. At the movie’s climax, as they dangle by a single rope from the snowy peak of lust, Dante must either cut the rope to survive or die with his companions. Seeing that his young friend won’t save himself, Virgil implores the teary-eyed Dante, his tormented mind a virtual slide show of sexilicious Beatrice seemingly projected on the snowy mountainside, to “kiss her for me,” then cuts the rope. Sadly, Dante watches Virgil & the incredibly unlucky Sordello plummet to their deaths. As part of the story’s denouement, Dante–having saved the company a fortune by declaring Virgil’s death a suicide–receives a huge bonus from Fidelity Life, which he spends on a honeymoon in Hawaii, where the movie ends, with scrumptious, bikini-clad Beatrice removing her top in the cherub-adorned hot tub as Dante, clipstick extended, tackles her as easily as a climbing wall. (Note: If you’re wondering how Dante was rescued, please remain seated for the duration of the credits. Your patience will be rewarded when the movie resumes with Dante, his partially snow-covered body still on the mountainside, barely breathing, muttering sweet nothings to no one. So the previous ending was merely an hallucination? Apparently, yes!)
Paris Disco: Ever wonder why Dante called his masterpiece The Divine Comedy when there’s not a laugh in the whole damn thing? That all changes in this final remake. In late-70s Paris, Dante & Beatrice want nothing more than to be with each other–well, that & to dance at the hottest discotheque around, Paradiso! However, a mix of hilarious hijinks & kooky characters, including a comically time-warping appearance on the dance floor by Dante’s crazy grandfather who thinks he’s Fred Astaire, conspire to keep them apart. On this particular summer night, Dante plans to ask Beatrice to marry him during the laser light dance. He’s bought a ring from his shady friend Don, unfortunately stuck across town “in traffic,” he says, though he’s secretly wooing Dante’s sister Pia. To complicate matters, Dante has competition. Justin, a transplanted American, is muscling in on Beatrice, threatening Dante privately while acting conspicuously generous & charming in Beatrice’s presence. As if that weren’t enough, the voluptuous duo of Venus & Cleo never tire of tempting Dante with their tight tube tops, red hot pants & seductive moves which Beatrice always seems to stumble upon at the most incriminating moments. Of course, everything works out. Don makes it to the club in time, Pia sheepishly on his arm. Dante gives Cleo & Venus the slip, finds Beatrice hurling–along with a lengthy string of insults–a banana daiquiri in Justin’s face, sweeps her onto the dance floor & just as Donna Summer sings “MacArthur Park,” busts the biggest move of his life. Rated PG-13 for language, adult content & stupidity.