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Does 'Inferno' hold a flame to the other movies in the trilogy?

Posted October 31

MOVIE LAND — This week, we are asked once again to suspend belief and watch as a series of nearly impossible riddles are solved in a desperate attempt to save the world from near total destruction.

In the Dan Brown novel turned movie, "Inferno," Tom Hanks reprises the role of Professor Robert Langdon who alone is uniquely qualified to solve all manner of modern-day mysteries, specifically related to medieval and renaissance matters. This is a very niche field of employment, but I wouldn't want anyone else on the case other than Hanks.

This time around Professor Langdon (Hanks) finds himself at the center of a plot to destroy humanity. The story begins with a series of disturbing hallucinations that Langdon experiences which depict the end of the world, Bible style. From this point, we are vaulted into a race against time to uncover the plot of a genius billionaire with a hobby for population control.

Since this topic is not new to this series of movies — consisting of "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" — the real question is: How does this story stack up to its predecessors and it is it worth seeing? Here are my thoughts:

Who doesn’t love a good riddle?

I've always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I feel when I use a limited set of clues to solve a puzzle, like who ate my Hot Pocket and why does my dog have ham and cheese on her face? From a much more passive perspective, I felt the same sense of accomplishment as I watched Hanks solve it for me in "Inferno."

This is what Dan Brown does so well. His stories make us feel like we are part of the process of solving these riddles as the story unfolds. Ron Howard as the director does a good job weaving clues into things that we are just enough familiar and unfamiliar with to wonder if what we are seeing could be real.

Who doesn’t love a good Tom Hanks?

I have always felt that Hanks commits completely to every role he takes to make us believe in and care about his characters. If you don’t believe me, watch how he commits to selling his role as David S. Pumpkins on the recent Saturday Night Live sketch.

This is Hanks' second movie this year: A couple of months ago we saw him as Captain Sullenberger in the movie "Sully." To watch him turn around and become a completely different and believable character in "Inferno" shows that Hanks will always be relevant even as he ages. Not many actors are that skilled or lucky.

Strong supporting cast

Due to the nature of these films, it is necessary to have strong supporting characters to keep the movie on pace. I was happy to see Ben Foster and Irrfan Khan had roles in this film, as they are great actors who need to be seen in more movies.

As with the other two films in this series, there is a different female lead, this time played by Felicity Jones. Jones does a fine job, but does not stand out particularly well in this role. I was let down a bit by this since she is a talented actress that played an amazing supporting role in the movie, "The Theory of Everything," for which she received an Oscar nomination.

Great filming locations

I am a bit of an art history and architecture nerd so I love watching films that deal with both. As with all three of the Dan Brown films in this series, we are treated to plenty of history and art. If you are like me there is a certain appeal to exploring areas behind old doors and empty attics.

Throughout "Inferno," we get to live out some of these fantasies as we run with characters through ancient tunnels and watch as they open forgotten doorways into buildings that most people never get to see. Shot across several countries and many historic locations, there is no lack of visual appeal to the locations this movie covers.

Storyline has about run its course

For as much as it has going for it, the one big problem this movie has is that there is really only so much material you can mine from a topic with such a narrow focus. I wasn't surprised by anything new in this film, but was entertained by the topic. I think this is a good place to wrap up the series and move on to something else.

Conclusion

"Inferno" is fun and what you would expect at this point in the series. Howard has done a good job at keeping the series going, but there is no new ground broken or major surprises.

Of the three movie in this series, I found that "Inferno" is not as good as "The Da Vinci Code," but that it is better than "Angels and Demons." If you like Hanks or you like the books, you will like the movie. If you don’t, "Inferno" will not change your mind.

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