I haven’t played the game nor do I know much about the original source, apart from the information I found on wikipedia. That said, this animated adaptation of the game isn’t as bad as one would expect, considering how much removed it’s from the source. One thing you have to accept is that the main character is pretty much an awful human being. Okay, maybe only by our modern, mostly liberal sensibilities (even today’s conservatives must look liberal to a fanatic crusader). The main character is a crusader who has done some awful stuff while on the crusade, but on his return finds his family and beloved killed. What follows is his journey through hell to rescue the soul of his beloved from Lucifer himself.
The biggest strength of the movie is the art. While each section of hell is done in a slightly different style, all sections manage to convey the disturbing nature of hell. There’s nothing subtle about it: it’s all gore and violence, a landscape of open flesh, blood and bones, populated by strange and bizarre mutations, demons and the souls of the condemned. Dante only adds to the mayhem, killing monsters and demons by the dozen. Despite the in-your-face depiction of hell it manages to be unsettling.
But the movie isn’t just a feast for eyes. Sure the characterization and the plot is pretty simple, but the action never stops. And if you like action, then prepare for a wild ride. Dante slaughters monsters ten times his size and fights nearly non-stop hell spawns and ghosts and whatnot. With a few flashbacks here and there the movie also reveals the back story, which actually makes Dante look worse each moment. Granting redemption is easy when you like someone, but Dante is pretty awful. But the reveal of Dante’s true nature only emphasizes the visual imagery of the movie. Earth is just another hell, another place full of demons.