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Awesome: 15.04%
Worth A Look: 22.56%
Just Average31.58%
Pretty Crappy: 15.79%
Sucks: 15.04%

10 reviews, 73 user ratings

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Ninth Gate, The
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by desdemona

"Rosemary's Baby disguised with a slightly different plot and new actors."
3 stars

Well, Roman Polanski isn't one to stray too far from what he knows, and apparently he knows Satanism (and quite well). This movie seemed like nothing more than a regurgitation of Rosemary's Baby, which was in itself painfully predictable. I kept expecting Mia Farrow to walk out onto the screen the whole time.

Not that the plots were incredibly alike. But somehow Polanski found a way to make two entirely different stories, neither of which even written by him (Rosemary's Baby was based on a novel of the same name by Ira Levin, The Ninth Gate was based on the Arturo Perez-Reverte novel The Club Dumas), shockingly similar. I realize that many directors have a certain style they like to stick to and that tends to make their movies similar, but really--this was too much.

The Ninth Gate is the story of Dean Corso (Johnny Depp), a man deeply immersed in the field of rare books, who is sent on a mission to find two extremely rare books (called The Nine Gates) rumored to have been written by a man in the 1500s that based them on a book supposedly written by Satan himself. The rumor is that if one can decode the prints in the book, then he can open the ninth gate of hell, bringing Satan to Earth. These books are the rare collector's wet dream; only three in existence, two of which rumored to be copies. The man Corso is working for--Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), who has the largest collection of rare books about Satan in the world--has one of the books and sends Corso to find the other two, trying to discover which one is the authentic one. One thing leads to another and SURPRISE! Corso gets entangled in a web a murder and (surprise again) Satanic worship--and who would have thought that would happen (you know, given that the books were about Satan, written in part by him, and about how to bring Satan onto earth; seemed like a real shocker to me). Then the Satanists begin offing people and make desperate attempts to get this book from Corso and the movie just keeps going and going and going...

The story is definately an intriguing one. Unfortunately it was as predictable as Titanic (who knew the ship would sink?). Polanski has a way of making clues jump out at you, nailing you across the head like a baseball bat, screaming "LOOK, I'M A CLUE!!!!!" the entire time. Rosemary's Baby was like that, and so is The Ninth Gate. Another similarity: in about twenty minutes you have the whole movie figured out, yet it just keeps going and going and going...until finally you just wish the Satanists would hurry up and win so you can be done with the damned thing. Really the only difference I could see between Rosemary's Baby and this movie was that one was about Satan's child and the other is about Satan's books. Despite that, the movies completely mirrored each other in content and construction. Even down to the corny black robes and pentagram necklaces the Satanists wore (which is really annoying because it assumes that all Satanists are these laughably superstitious, psychotic people that walk around mumbling about Satan all day long--not that Satanists are necessarily nice people, either, but still, the stereotype has been played to the point of being ridiculous). Then, of course, there were the series of murders the Satanists commit in both movies so they can get what they want, and there was also the Polanski-trademark ambiguous ending that resolves nothing and seems to be Satan-sympathetic. Then there was the innocent protagonists of both movies that get drawn into Satanism and end up in a questionable position in the end (trying not to reveal the ending here, but you'll be able to guess it, anyway).

There were good things about Polanski's consistency: the good thing is that he doesn't need to be constantly shouting "BOO!" at the audience to keep it scary...however, it's only scary if you're not sleeping. Then there were the less-than-inspired performances of the cast. Johnny Depp just didn't seem to know what was going on at the time, Lena Olin (one of the psychotic Satanists) was annoyingly shrieky but that was about it, and Emmanuelle Seigner (who played this weird girl that kept showing up mysteriously during key moments of the movie--and you'll figure out who she is after about half an hour) was definately creepy but lacked that creepy enthusiam I so desperately wanted to see. Frank Langella probably offered the most convincing performance of the lot; the Brittish accent just made the role for that high-society Satanic type. He was a sophisticated kind of pyscho, after all.

Ambiguous is the word I'd use to describe the cast, and ambiguous is the word I'd use to describe the movie. Sometimes ambiguous can be good, like in Rosemary's Baby. However, Rosemary's Baby has already been done; now this ambiguity is just tiresome.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1730&reviewer=86
originally posted: 03/11/00 23:58:49
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User Comments

4/10/18 The Big D Boris Balkn proves that guys with glasses can be super cool! 5 stars
10/11/10 J.P. Ward Underappreciated atmospheric mood piece with sinister undercurrents. 4 stars
7/30/09 the dork knight Extraordinarily dull for the most, but that was the point? Langella is a scary bastard. 3 stars
5/10/09 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
8/04/07 ravenmad interesting concept, but the story was a little weak and the ending too abrupt. 3 stars
6/09/07 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
1/03/07 Wildpen film shots were decent, but I woudl have liked to been spoonfed the ending, 3 stars
9/08/06 Michele interesting, mysterious 5 stars
4/03/05 indrid cold Pedophile and rapist Polanski is still given millions of $ to make movies for some reason. 2 stars
3/15/05 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
8/10/04 Umberto Bulgartio I am a rare book dealer and like Corso,I always chain smoke right over priceless books. 4 stars
5/17/04 Anne I will never get my wasted time back. The WORST movie ever made! 1 stars
3/16/04 Brando ....POLANSKI???????!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
1/21/04 American Slasher Goddess Very dull and disappointing. 1 stars
12/13/03 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
10/26/03 Two-G - horror_blood2 (aka Double G) good movie, a chick satan, hah 5 stars
7/08/03 Stefan Halka Polanski proves once again that he isn't much of a director without a good script. 3 stars
6/18/03 George Jung Sommersby sucks nuts. Big nuts. 5 stars
6/17/03 Jack Bourbon There's some good over here, and there's some bad over here. 3 stars
5/03/03 sleepy I totally got this film. Great fun. 5 stars
4/18/03 Jack Sommersby Dull, lifeless, disjointed and predictable. A real disappointment. 1 stars
2/17/03 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
2/07/02 Aristide Torchia sexy and stylish thiriller 5 stars
2/06/02 Terrie Smith A few good moments but Polanski lets the film run way too long. Slow moving. 3 stars
1/16/02 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
11/19/01 Milos Dj. really boring and silly movie 1 stars
7/31/01 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
5/09/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Acme goes to the cinema, take 5... 2 stars
5/07/01 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
3/27/01 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
10/20/00 Pandora Boring, disconnected, and well, it just plain sucked. 1 stars
10/03/00 sweet-xtacy i thought that the movie was really good, one of the best one's i have ever seen 5 stars
8/27/00 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
8/15/00 Drew Vogel Terrific acting, great script, great direction, just wonderful 5 stars
5/12/00 Mark The ending sucked even worse than the film as a whole. 1 stars
5/04/00 KC This is the most boring film ever made! I would have left but I had to drive my friend home 1 stars
5/02/00 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
4/06/00 Leon Trotsky Fuck, was that awful! 1 stars
4/04/00 ChuckEye Strong on visuals, weak on sense. 4 stars
3/31/00 entropy Disappointing - Jonny Dep made it tollerable 2 stars
3/24/00 malcolm thoroughly disappointing! 2 stars
3/14/00 PhilmPhreak Boy, did that suck or what! 1 stars
3/14/00 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
3/13/00 majawat Predictable, slow, but mildly entertaining 3 stars
3/13/00 SomeGuy Pretty good, but barely 1/2 of the book. 4 stars
3/13/00 Captain Highcrime Wait a minute...you can get a Dodge in Europe? 4 stars
3/12/00 pete cummings derek parker is a filthy homosexual 5 stars
3/12/00 rev. eric maultsby very good. i highly recommend this movie. 5 stars
3/12/00 Ben Ryan What happened? I was promised a great movie, but promises are made to be broken. average! 2 stars
3/12/00 Pope Gonzo XIII Extremely well-crafted and mysterious, with engrossing symbolism. 5 stars
3/12/00 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
3/11/00 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
12/16/99 Derek Parker I love gay guys 5 stars
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  10-Mar-2000 (R)


  28-Sep-2000 (M)

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