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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 EricDSnider

"Former director Roman Polanski tries his hand at making a movie."
3 stars

The biggest revelation in Roman Polanski's new film "The Ninth Gate" is that apparently, Satan himself once wrote a book. Sure, we knew he had ghost-written a few things -- "The Bridges of Madison County," "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," etc. -- but to actually sit down and pen a tome himself...! What a prized possession THAT would be!

And indeed it is in this Gothic, creepily slow-moving film about a rare-books collector named Corso (Johnny Depp) who is hired by serpentine multi-millionaire Balkan (Frank Langella) to verify the authenticity of his copy of "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of the Shadows." Seems that only three copies of the Satan-authored guide to unleashing your inner devil (written in 1666!) are in existence; Balkan has poorly explained reasons to believe that only one of them is legit. He has no problem believing his copy might be one of the two forgeries; if that is the case, Corso's mission is to obtain -- at all costs -- the one true version and bring it back to him.

The other two copies are in Portugal and France, so Corso is soon visiting the books' owners, comparing their copies with Balkan's copy, in a game similar to those "spot the differences between these two cartoons" features you see in the kids' section of the newspaper sometimes.

It's not long before Corso realizes that wherever he goes, people die. Evidently -- and who would have suspected such a thing of a book written by Lucifer? -- these things are pretty powerful. And some people really want them. Balkan, obviously, does, but so does one Mrs. Telfor (Lena Olin), whose recently deceased husband is the one who sold Balkan his copy in the first place, against her wishes.

There's also a woman without a name (Emmanuelle Seigner) who follows Corso around, apparently helping him in his quest to not just find the authentic book, but to unleash its poorly explained powers and achieve the poorly explained goal that one can achieve if one uses the book in a poorly explained (but apparently very precise) manner. This woman can float in mid-air, for reasons that, it goes without saying, are poorly explained. (In fact, they're not explained at all, and Corso never even notices her doing it.)

Polanski may be a genius in some quarters, but this movie is really just a Dungeons-&-Dragons-style devil-and-magic book put on film. As such, it has people saying things like, "Flattery will get you nowhere," and "You don't know what you're getting yourself into," and Corso receiving instructions over the phone from the Bond-villain-esque Balkan, who begins: "Listen very carefully, Mr. Corso."

The film is never scary; it occasionally manages to be tense and creepy, and while it ends without satisfying even one's basic desire for cohesion in a movie, it's never boring, either.

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originally posted: 07/05/03 16:32:59
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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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