The Ninth Gate (1999) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Drama / Mystery|
|Lions Gate || R - 133 minutes - $19.99 || August 11, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-31|
Writer(s): Arturo Pérez-Reverte (novel "El Club Dumas"); Enrique Urbizu & John Brownjohn and Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Lena Olin, Frank Langella, Emmanuelle Seigner
Theatrical Release Date: March 10, 2000
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Roman Polanski’s thriller, The Ninth Gate, is a brilliant looking movie but it falls short with a story that never seems to flow all that well. Not sure if that is Polanski’s fault or the difficulties of adapting Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel. This is now my second viewing after a few years and while I admire how great it looks and even Johnny Depp’s performance – which isn’t anything spectacular, but proves the man can do just about anything – yet the whole plot never clicked with me.
The Ninth Gate follows rare book dealer Dean Corso (Johnny Depp), an unscrupulous man who will try and swindle a rare book from a mute person, as he does at the beginning of the film. He’s hired by multi-millionaire businessman Boris Balkin (Frank Langella) to see if Corso can authenticate his book, called the “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows”, with two others. So Corso travels to Spain and France where his life quickly is endangered as someone else wants their hands on the book or specifically, the illustrations purported to be done by Lucifer himself.
I don’t mind movies about the occult or Satan/Lucifer so long as the story can hold together and in the case of The Ninth Gate, the two hours, while not entirely boring in the least, never could come together especially towards the end with a couple scenes that seem to come out of nowhere and made little sense (well, I knew what was going on, but it seemed tacked on).
The cast is what holds the movie together with Johnny Depp leading the way. Depp obviously a capable actor and although this is not a great performance as it seems he could sleepwalk through this role – which never was fleshed out very well – but to his credit, he looks good in the part and has a certain charm that makes the film worthwhile. Then you add in a strange but oddly fascinating performance by French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.
In any case, The Ninth Gate isn’t a terrible film and certainly looks good with some decent performances, but I could never get behind the story and by the two hour mark (it’s 123 minutes long, although the back case mistakes it as 93 minutes).
All features have been carried over from the DVD release and are presented in SD.
Feature Commentary – Co-writer/Producer/Director Roman Polanski sits down for a standard track that, and this isn’t saying much, is the best feature on the set.
Featurette (2:02) – As you can probably already tell, this is a very (x5) basic ‘making-of’ that just has some sound bites from Roman Polanski and what the movie is about. Nothing to see here... move along.
Lastly are a couple theatrical trailers which are appreciated given how some releases fail to include them; a bookmarks feature which I have yet to use; a Gallery of Satanic Drawings; and Storyboard Selections where you can either check out storyboards or text script of that scene.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The Ninth Gate is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and on a 25GB Blu-ray disc. The 1080p High-Definition transfer isn’t anything to get excited over. Now, I have read that the transfer did get a DNR/EE treatment but I really didn't notice it. That said, I couldn't deny something wasn't done (no doubt DNR was used by Lionsgate) as it is quite different over the DVD video. It may anger some, but for me, it's just a stupid move on the studio's part...
As per usual (and yet unusual by Blu-ray standards), Lionsgate has provided a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that sounds OK, but came across a tad soft at times. The dialogue sounds fine while Wojchiech Kilar’s score makes use of most of the channels. This isn’t some amazing audio experience but for a decade old film, I can’t complain too much.
The Ninth Gate is a stylish and rich looking movie with some fine, though semi-pedestrian, performances but a story that never quite clicked for me. The Blu-ray has a good newly remastered high-def widescreen transfer and a decent audio presentation. The features aren’t that great and I wish Lionsgate had commissioned a new featurette or commentary.