Ninth Gate, The
Reviewed by Diane Squires
Rating: 7 Beans
ventually there will come a time when I stop doing this to myself. Someday it will finally sink in to my head, that a cool looking preview is a dead give away of a really crappy film. Unfortunately my brain is not my friend, it refuses to beleive that a little bit of atmosphere and some stuff catching on fire are not the hallmarks of great cinematic entertainment. Once again, I have managed to drag myself out to the local Blockbuster through rush hour traffic on a friday night when I ought to be having fun, only to come home with the biggest waste of celluloid in the whole damn store, and bear in mind that says a lot because they stock Ernest Movies and Barney Videos over there.
What the hell is the Ninth Gate? I still don't know. I don't think the director really knew. I don't even think the writer had a clue, but hey anyone who writes movies about Satan to be released at the milennium is already not the sharpest tack in the box. Anyways, Johnny Depp in yet another spectacular break away from his usual tormented losers in bleak looking films, plays this rare book hunter guy. Did I mention that the movie is kinda bleak and that the bookhunter looks like a bit of a loser? Well, I just did. Frank Langella is a rich loser who hires Depp to find these satanic books that unlock the Ninth Gate or fix VCRs or file tax returns by magic, or some stupid junk.
Now, The Ninth Gate is special because it isn't about just one magic book. There are three magic books, only some parts of the books are forged, so I guess the books are really only one third magic. Langella has one book, but he wants the see the other two so he can piece together the magic bits and summon up the antichrist just like all the other millionaires on his block did in other movies. So Depp goes out and visits the eccentric wierdos (yes, if you own a rare one third magic evil book, you probably are an eccentric wierdo) who own the other books. Of course, these people all drop dead just as soon as Depp says hello to them. In the best scene, Depp marches straight out of this old broad's house, which happens to be on fire, through a crowd of people and no one ever thinks to stop him and say "Hey, who are you and why are you hanging out with a corpse in a house that's on fire?"
Whenever Depp isn't looking at books or looking like a possible accessory to homicide, he spend his time wandering through the streets of ummmm europe, getting attacked by people. Why? Because he has a rare somewhat magical evil book and that's what happens to people who own rare somewhat magical evil books. Just ask Harry Potter. Luckily for Depp, this random blond woman who look like a model keeps floating around down staircases and such to save him. She is the most annoying thing in an already irritating film. Since she turns up floating, it's a dead tip off that she ain't from Kansas. Is she satan? Who knows? Who cares?
Finally at long last, all the books have to get put together. Why? Because the writers ran out of stupid cliches for their plot most likely. Langella gets the pages and... oopsie he goofed up and now he is toast. Flaming toast. It's hard to beleive that even then the police still don't turn up to ask Depp why he didn't call them when his boss was being immolated. Depp meets up with blondie and they have evil sex in front of the burning castle where Langella is dead and still charbroiling away. I'm still not sure what the point of the evil sex was? Is there some rule that all evil female beings have to seduce someone in a creepy and disturbing manner for no apparent reason? Perhaps so.
Anyways, here's where I just don't get it. Once the sex is all over and everything, blondie bails. She leaves Depp a note that points him too the magic missing picture that will complete the magic thing. So he looks at the picture and it's this chick riding a big snake in front of the castle where Langella died, and she has blondie's face. Okay, I get it, now we know for sure she is evil. The picture has the sun or something in the background whick all of a sudden becomes this bright light. The picture becomes "real" and Depp is walking towards the castle... and that's it. I don't get it. Hell is a picture postcard? Or maybe it was just a flashback, or maybe he went there later, I just don't understand! Frankly, I think the writers couldn't come up with a real ending, they had no idea what the Ninth Gate ought to be so they just tacked on something that made no sense... in the hopes that the audience would think up some way to explain it for them.
Okay, I'm done and I'll shut up now. I didn't like The Ninth Gate, but heck, it could have been worse. It could have been End of Days.
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