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The Ninth Gate

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Ninth Gate

Starring: Johnny Depp, Lena Olin
Director: Roman Polanski
Rated: R
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: March 2000
Genres: Horror, Thriller

*Also starring: Frank Langella, Emmanuelle Seigner, James Russo

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
4.  John Beachem read the review movie review

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Problem is: when Roman Polanski directs and Johnny Depp stars, you expect more than you get in this grim, third-rate horror mystery. Returning to his Rosemary's Baby roots, Roman Polanski helms this thriller, casting Johnny Depp as an unscrupulous antique book dealer who is hired by a wealthy New York publisher, Frank Langella, who has just acquired a rare 17th century Venetian text called The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of the Shadows. Langella is a demonologist who believes that this tome, along with another two, are manuals of satanic invocation. Legend has it that if the engravings in the books are assembled properly, Lucifer will be released from Hell. Depp's assignment is to locate the other two volumes in France and Portugal and to ascertain their authenticity. Interesting concept. Only what comes next makes little sense. Depp goes to Europe and develops what he terms a "growing obsession" with his mission. Predictably, there's a femme fatale, Lena Olin, along with Polanski's wife, Emmanuelle Seigneur, who serves as Depp's mysterious guardian. Based on the novel El Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, it's been adapted for the screen by Enrique Urbizu, John Brownjohn, and the director who make the quest remarkably incoherent and quite lacking in suspense. Cinematographer Darius Khondji does remarkably sinister camera work, and production designer Dean Tavoularis creates a convincing replica of Manhattan since Polanski, who is considered a fugitive, could not film in the United States. Curiously, if you saw Eyes Wide Shut, you may find the secret sect of robed society people interested in the occult vaguely familiar. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Ninth Gate is a blithering baroque 4. Scary? No. Silly? Yes.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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