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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.04%
Worth A Look: 22.56%
Pretty Bad: 15.79%
Total Crap: 15.04%

10 reviews, 73 user ratings

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Ninth Gate, The
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by Hawkboy

"So, which character was supposed to be Satan?"
2 stars

OK, so we got 9 Gates, 3 books, about 15 endings, and no suspense. Johnny Depp manages to play a role with absolutely no personality whatsoever, while Frank Langella tries to be scary. The only thing scary about Frank Langella is that he sleeps with Whoopi Goldberg voluntarily.

Now, I may have been suckered into believing that this movie was something that it wasn't by some misleading trailers. I admit that. I'm willing to accept that I was hoodwinked by the publicity monkeys at Artisan, and that it isn't the fault of the filmmakers. But dammit, if I go see a movie about Satan, I want to SEE Satan. Not a bunch of people arguing over a book. At least "Rosemary's Baby" had a real sense of menace in it.

Roman Polanski's latest opus goes like this: Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a sneaky "book detective" who cheats rich people out of their expensive books and laughs about it with his snarky book detective friends. He's hired by Boris mean, Balkan (Frank "Makin' Whoopi" Langella) to check the authenticity of a book of his that's basically "Conjuring Satan For Dummies". There are three copies in existence; he wants to check which one's the original. Apparently, this book was co-written by Satan. (According to literary legend, William Goldman also did an uncredited rewrite, but that's neither here nor there.) So Johnny sets out to find the other two books. He travels around Europe (well, he couldn't exactly travel around America - Polanski's still on the run for that child rape back in '78) searching for the books, and SPOOKY things happen. People turn up dead. And yet...there's NO suspense!

I think the main problem with the film is Johnny Depp's completely lifeless performance. It was widely reported that Depp and Polanski weren't exactly chummy on-set, and so Johnny-boy just looks bored. This movie's supposed to be about this big journey into the depths of evil that Depp takes, but meanwhile, Johnny seems to be playing the part as the most bored man alive. "Hmmm...five more dead bodies. Hmmm...there's Satan playing the banjo on that balcony. Hmmm...I'm thirsty." By the end, when he's supposed to be changed forever by what he's seen, I didn't notice a single thing different about his behaviour.

The rest of the performances are no treat either: Frank Langella is kinda creepy, but he's off-screen for most of the movie. The Director's untalented wife plays a mysterious figure who shows up all the time, no matter how far Depp travels. Maybe she's Johnny's student loan officer. She can fly, too, and knows every single plot detail, and, in a touching and romantic scene, gets a nosebleed and wipes her snot on Depp's forehead. Is she Satan? Is Frank? Is Johnny? Am I?

Roman, you lost it. If it's supposed to be a supernatural thriller, where are the supernatural elements? If it's supposed to be a detective thriller, where's the suspense? Polanski just piles weird details on top of each other, and we're expecting a big payoff at the end, but then it ends in a big-ass whimper. It's like he spent all this time setting up some really freaky concepts, and then, instead of bringing them all together at the end, Polanski just walks on-screen, stands in the middle of the frame, and says, "Boy, that sure was creepy, wasn't it, kids? A-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

And Roman, stop putting your wife in your movies. She's terrible. That role could have been better played by Andre the Giant. Today. Even though he's dead.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/22/00 14:41:30
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User Comments

4/11/18 The Big D Boris Balkn proves that guys with glasses can be super cool! 5 stars
10/12/10 J.P. Ward Underappreciated atmospheric mood piece with sinister undercurrents. 4 stars
7/31/09 the dork knight Extraordinarily dull for the most, but that was the point? Langella is a scary bastard. 3 stars
5/11/09 matt absolutely genius... a movie of symbols, clues and subtlety 5 stars
1/11/09 Anonymous. very freaky and mysterious, but not one of depp's best... 3 stars
8/17/08 Samantha Pruitt interesting concept, wasn't very well done and slow, at least Johnny was hot! 3 stars
8/05/07 ravenmad interesting concept, but the story was a little weak and the ending too abrupt. 3 stars
6/10/07 fools♫gold Strangely entertaining underrated great originally filmed stuff. 90%, at least. 4 stars
1/21/07 David A. A fascinating supernatural detective story--it rocks! 5 stars
1/04/07 Wildpen film shots were decent, but I woudl have liked to been spoonfed the ending, 3 stars
9/09/06 Michele interesting, mysterious 5 stars
4/04/05 indrid cold Pedophile and rapist Polanski is still given millions of $ to make movies for some reason. 2 stars
3/16/05 Ronin It's not scary. It's creepy and mysterious. People with imagination should like it. 4 stars
10/23/04 andy clark genuinely unsettling moments 4 stars
8/11/04 Umberto Bulgartio I am a rare book dealer and like Corso,I always chain smoke right over priceless books. 4 stars
5/18/04 Anne I will never get my wasted time back. The WORST movie ever made! 1 stars
3/17/04 Brando ....POLANSKI???????!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
1/22/04 American Slasher Goddess Very dull and disappointing. 1 stars
12/14/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Cool ending, but once again, Polanski takes his own sweet time. Film's middle hour=yawn. 3 stars
11/28/03 john creepy, brilliantly shot and ultimatetly shocking (once you get it)) 5 stars
10/27/03 Two-G - horror_blood2 (aka Double G) good movie, a chick satan, hah 5 stars
7/09/03 Stefan Halka Polanski proves once again that he isn't much of a director without a good script. 3 stars
6/19/03 George Jung Sommersby sucks nuts. Big nuts. 5 stars
6/18/03 Jack Bourbon There's some good over here, and there's some bad over here. 3 stars
5/04/03 sleepy I totally got this film. Great fun. 5 stars
4/19/03 Jack Sommersby Dull, lifeless, disjointed and predictable. A real disappointment. 1 stars
2/18/03 Charles Tatum Nice visuals help a script that eventually just repeats itself 4 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy you keep watching it over and over just so you can figure it out....excellent. 5 stars
9/11/02 R.W. Welch Intriguing much of the way but leaves a lot of loose ends lying around. 3 stars
2/08/02 Aristide Torchia sexy and stylish thiriller 5 stars
2/07/02 Terrie Smith A few good moments but Polanski lets the film run way too long. Slow moving. 3 stars
1/17/02 David A. Outstanding supernatural detective movie. Intelligently done and very exciting 5 stars
1/06/02 Monday Morning Depp must have lost a bet to be in this piece of mierda. 2 stars
11/20/01 Milos Dj. really boring and silly movie 1 stars
8/01/01 Vixor he always pisses me off at the end of his movies- bad movie 2 stars
7/22/01 othree Mystery of the Occult that ends on a mystery, no payoff! Depp was a believable character. 3 stars
6/03/01 Rimshot Doesn't end...just dies. I think Polanski ran out of film. 2 stars
5/10/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Acme goes to the cinema, take 5... 2 stars
5/08/01 Vítor Ribeiro An interesting movie! 4 stars
4/15/01 GeorgE McCaul While it is not Polanski's best film it is not his worst, and I really enjoyed it. 4 stars
3/28/01 Jesse L Depp makes it worthwhile 4 stars
2/12/01 4 play There isn't any more to it? 1 stars
12/23/00 Bev Clark Surreal, suspenseful, stylish and unashamedly tongue in cheek. 4 stars
11/26/00 FrayLo The only redeeming quality of this movie was the sex scene at the end. 1 stars
10/29/00 Holger Lagerfeldt Superb, completely engrossing film experience! 5 stars
10/21/00 Pandora Boring, disconnected, and well, it just plain sucked. 1 stars
10/04/00 sweet-xtacy i thought that the movie was really good, one of the best one's i have ever seen 5 stars
8/28/00 cliff eliason load of hogwash-should be called "tintin and the devil's books" 1 stars
8/24/00 mahone All satanic movies are now in the realm of "The Big Bad Wolf" 1 stars
8/16/00 Drew Vogel Terrific acting, great script, great direction, just wonderful 5 stars
5/13/00 Mark The ending sucked even worse than the film as a whole. 1 stars
5/05/00 KC This is the most boring film ever made! I would have left but I had to drive my friend home 1 stars
5/03/00 cort major Well directed-well acted,very enjoyable. 4 stars
4/15/00 PJ Greatly underrated, Polanski is a master Auteur, the cinematography breathless!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/07/00 Leon Trotsky Fuck, was that awful! 1 stars
4/05/00 ChuckEye Strong on visuals, weak on sense. 4 stars
4/01/00 entropy Disappointing - Jonny Dep made it tollerable 2 stars
3/24/00 malcolm thoroughly disappointing! 2 stars
3/15/00 PhilmPhreak Boy, did that suck or what! 1 stars
3/15/00 Lame-Oh much better than the pathetic End of Days and Devil's Advocate flicks 4 stars
3/14/00 Charles Once again, Depp rises above his material. 4 stars
3/14/00 majawat Predictable, slow, but mildly entertaining 3 stars
3/14/00 SomeGuy Pretty good, but barely 1/2 of the book. 4 stars
3/13/00 Captain Highcrime Wait a can get a Dodge in Europe? 4 stars
3/13/00 pete cummings derek parker is a filthy homosexual 5 stars
3/13/00 rev. eric maultsby very good. i highly recommend this movie. 5 stars
3/13/00 Ben Ryan What happened? I was promised a great movie, but promises are made to be broken. average! 2 stars
3/13/00 Pope Gonzo XIII Extremely well-crafted and mysterious, with engrossing symbolism. 5 stars
3/13/00 Matt A but slow, but it kept me interested. Worth Seeing 4 stars
3/12/00 LCF Richly engrossing old style filmmaking w/a marvelous score, great acting, & a neat mystery 5 stars
3/12/00 Jeremy Boring, had the movie figured out in the first 20 minutes.. 2 stars
2/15/00 k.tomkowski Solid, original, intelligent. Devil as a former angel, mockingly observing human vanities. 4 stars
12/17/99 Derek Parker I love gay guys 5 stars
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  10-Mar-2000 (R)


  28-Sep-2000 (M)

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