Sometimes as a film music fan you do stupid things. You see a movie that everyone tells you is bad. You see this movie, because you love the film score and can’t imagine the movie being “that bad”. Sometimes you luck out and the movie is pretty good, and it is wonderful to see how the composer made the film better because of the score (I’m looking at you Jerry Goldsmith). But sometimes you strike out. The movie really is “that bad” and you’re left wondering why you just wasted more than two hours of your life when you could have just listened to the film score again. Guess which type of bad movie this is.
Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is an obtainer of rare books. He’s also a bit of a bastard about the whole thing. He will lie, cheat and steal to get these books and sell them without a second thought. He’s very good at his job and that is why Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) hires him to find the extremely rare book The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows. Supposedly if all the known texts are combined, a complete version of the book can be deciphered. Then you can open the gates to hell and bring forth the devil. Sounds like fun!
Well Corso doesn’t care about all that supernatural hocus-pocus! He just wants the books and a big payday. Along the way he must match wits and nerves with Liana Telfer (Lena Olin) a sexy widow who wants the books for herself. There is also a mysterious girl (Emmanuelle Seigner) that helps Corso, and appears to have some kind of supernatural abilities. The deeper Corso gets, the more he begins to realize that there might be something to this demonic book. But will he have the guts to open The Ninth Gate?
- Wonderful score by Wojciech Kilar
- Has a fun story at its core
- Some of the scenery chewing by Olin and Langella is a blast to watch
- Not scary, or suspenseful or even that interesting
- Feels like it is meandering way too often
- Corso is too bland to be a good antihero
Much like John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns, this film seems to be inspired by the disturbing short story, The King in Yellow. But just like Carpenter, Polanski just misses the boat. The movie is not bad enough to be fun, and not good enough to be engaging. It has a few moments where it almost starts coming together, but Depps, bland portrayal, or even Kilar’s overly dramatic score just topples the whole thing. It’s a shame because a good movie is buried in there somewhere, but this is one you can skip (and just listen to the film score instead).
Scores (out of 5)
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