‘Dante’ Redux Goes Up in Smoke

For his directorial debut, Hue Rhodes should have left Dante’s Inferno alone. A modern-day interpretation of the literary classic, “Saint John of Las Vegas” milks the connection between Sin City and damnation, but emerges with nothing more than a weak premise and even flimsier characters.

In the original, Dante Alighieri, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, tours hell in an allegory for the recognition and rejection of sin; in “Vegas,” John Alighieri (Steve Buscemi) is an ex-gambler who still compulsively buys lotto scratchers, and with partner Virgil (Romany Malco) he’s investigating an insurance claim in Las Vegas — involving a stripper named Tasty D. Light, of course.

However profound the groundwork, the film lurches through the desert without social commentary or humor, and the bizarre characters try to compensate by overacting. Alighieri’s boss (Peter Dinklage) is a midget, and his girlfriend (Sarah Silverman) is terrifyingly obsessed with yellow smiley faces, but their forced quirkiness only makes for an uncomfortable theaterful.

Lost in the Nevada wasteland, it’s hard to tell what exactly Alighieri is struggling with (besides tumbleweeds). Theoretically, a personal transformation turns him away from sin at some point, but Steve Buscemi’s acting can’t quite show it; his only sign of growth is a cocky dance at a truck stop.

Even with an ominous score to set the tone, “Vegas” fails to get off the ground, and even the film’s climax is buried under sideshows. Save $10 and watch the seven deadly sins flash atop the Warren College engineering building — it’s a quicker, less painful version of this travesty.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal