.Tucked away in some long-forgotten corner of the galaxy is Dante, a hellish volcano magma-covered planet whihc is orbitted by Dante 01, a space station belonging to a huge pharmaceutical corporation with dubious ethics. Violent and psychotic prisoners who would otherwise have been executed are kept here as guinea pigs to test the company's latest treatments. Their choice was simple: be put to death or willingly subject themselves to human experimentation...
Directed by: Marc Caro
. Starring: Lambert Wilson
, Linh Dan Pham
, Simona Maicanescu
, Dominique Pinon
, Bruno Lochet
, François Levantal
, Gérald Laroche
, François Hadji-Lazaro
, Lotfi Yahya Jedidi
, Yann Collette
, Dominique Bettenfeld
, Antonin Maurel
, Yan Dron
. Music by: Raphael Elig
, Eric Wenger
First, a WARNING: the storyline on D01's main page is NOT to be taken at face-value. It's not to be taken at ass-value, not back-value, and I'd recommend against it being taken at breast-value too. It is not to be taken at any value: it's utter drivel, written by someone who either hadn't seen the movie or was high on Amazonian mushrooms while watching it. In this ludicrous "summary", there is talk of "an alien force", "a power that infects (everyone)", "a violent rebellion" and ends with some gobbledygook about everyone having to "confront their own dragon". None of this is true: 1) aliens are never even hinted at, 2) the stranger's power does not infect but actually does the opposite -' heal, 3) there is no rebellion except a ship-sabotage perpetrated by one prisoner, 4) and there is certainly no "dragon" i.e. "inner demon" to be confronted by each character; this isn't a wrist-slitting Bergman drama. Appropriately enough, this utterly misleading and fallacious storyline is written by "Anonymous". I'd hide my name too if I'd written such piffle.
D01 is too convoluted, highly confusing, and plot-hole-ridden, but also interesting, unusual, visually appealing, and fun. The deciding factor whether one finds this to be a good film or not is whether one considers the positives heavy enough to outweigh the negatives. I would say that they do, though not by a wide margin.
The first plot-device that is highly problematic is that Charon (the space-station's chief) actually throws an advanced computer into the hands of a psychopathic suicidal nutcase, the reason being that Attila is a "computer whiz" hence can obtain information for him. Sillier still, Charon is the boss of a psychiatric unit -' with Attila being a criminally insane patient of his - so for Charon to make such a crass blunder makes no sense on any level. Are we to believe that this advanced distant future is run by utter idiots? If the bosses are this daft, then how dim must the lower-level employees at such institutions be? Nevertheless, even though this kind of nonsense would normally annoy me greatly, in D01 it didn't bother me much.
Another problem is Cesar's so-called "sacrifice". Are we to believe that he saved the space-station? How?! We see him exiting the boiling-hot water, covered in third-degree burns and from what I could see he did not manage to enter any code need to save the station. In fact, all he did was scream in agony and fumble on the floor for a bit. Bad direction, clumsy editing, or did I miss something?
Another example of flawed directing -' in an otherwise well-directed movie, from a technical standpoint -' was not showing the demise of the Asian chick and Lazarus in more detail. Their death, which I consider a relevant enough event in the story, is just briefly skimmed over in a 10-second sequence during which the two of them didn't even show terror or fear as they approached the planet's atmosphere. The ship's explosion is seen from a distance: hardly the proper way to present the downfall of the film's most evil two characters. It's this kind of lack of paying attention to detail that enables American cinema to still be one step ahead of the Europeans. American movies may have as many dumb plot-twists as the French ones, but at least when it comes to editing and direction there is generally no confusion as to what is going on -' as dumb as those goings-on may sometimes be.
The movie's main problem, however, is the confusing, inconclusive, bizarre ending. "His destiny could only be fulfilled here, at the threshold of Hell," says the elderly bald female, in one of her many bouts of half-useless narration. Next up: St. George actually terraforms the planet Dante. Why? This is one helluva (n.p.i.) ending, which fails to connect to previous events in any way. It's not as if the story had been revolving up to that point around mankind searching for new pastures - hence terraforming as the number one priority; nothing of the sort. If that had been the case, then St. George's last act would have made sense. The terraforming of Dante is so far-removed from what the previous 80 minutes were about that the viewer doesn't even have a lead: not even a vague hint as to what all of this might be about. There isn't even room for speculation, unless you consider totally wild guessing as a valid way to go about finding an answer to this insolvable riddle. One can theorize all one wants, but this movie doesn't have a point to make. It's just there, pretending as if it had a point.
The fact that St. George's background and origin aren't an iota clearer by the movie's end is something that I see as more of a cop-out ending than a brilliant, vague mystery to be solved by the viewer's imagination. To solve a mystery with these many unknowns, one needs to be high on South American mushrooms (like Mr. Anonymous). Any less imagination than those plants bring simply wouldn't be enough.
It is a pity that this script, which had real potential, wasn't fixed i.e. script-doctored by an experienced and intelligent writer. The story has a mysterious introduction, an interesting (if flawed) development, but no valid conclusion whatsoever.
Apparently, there were all sorts of budget problems during the making of D01, but I simply don't care. As a viewer -' and not a film historian -' I only judge the film by what I see on the screen i.e. the end-product.
Somebody here wrote that D01 is one big metaphor. Naturally, this mushroom-sucking person didn't care to tell us what exactly this grand metaphor might be, because in his words: "I don't want to spoil the movie for you".
Review by fedor8 from the Internet Movie Database.