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Ninth Gate, The

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Blake Kunisch | posted August 30, 2000 | E-mail the Author

The Movie: The first time I saw The Ninth Gate in theaters, I was impressed - it definately isn't your run-of-the-mill horror flick. Instead, it's more of a horror film that turns into a mystery which turns back into a horror film. Upon my 2nd and 3rd watchings of this movie on DVD, I liked it even more. Johnny Depp does an excellent job as Corso, an investigator hired to do some in depth searching into the true origin of a mysterious book that is said to be able to open a portal so that the devil can emerge in the world. The ending is a bit strange, but not the letdown many people have made it out to be. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie from start to finish and think that Polanski and Depp did a great job to bring a very complicated book to the screen.

The Picture: The picture is superb. It has been digitally mastered and is presented in it's original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1 and is also anamorphic. The movie as a whole is very dark, and the DVD does a great job of keeping the darkness, but yet making it easy to view. Overall, I didn't notice any problems with the picture and thought it made a great transition from big screen to small screen.

The Sound: Sound doesn't seem to play a huge part in this film with very few scenes calling for special effects or surround sound, but when you notice the sound, you notice it. The surround is utilized nicely when needed, but it isn't overdone. It's especially nice to hear the isolated score on the disc so you can get a greater understanding of the musical score beneath the visuals of the film.

The Extras: There are quite a few nice extras on this disc, some better than others:

Commentary with Roman Polanski: The commentary was recorded a year after the movie was made, and Roman said that he usually doesn't revisit his movies after they have been released, but because he enjoys the DVD medium so much, from the great picture to the extras, he went back to record this commentary. The commentary mainly focuses on the special effects used in the film and the basic plot structure. It also touches on the different people used in the film, from Johnny Depp to first time actors. The commentary gives some great insight into the film and I really enjoyed listening to it not only because it gives more depth to the film, but you also get a sense of how Roman Polanski directs films from start to finish.

Featurette: The featurette has a couple of interviews with Roman Polanski and Johnny Depp along with some behind-the-scenes footage, but I timed it and the featurette was exactly 2 minutes long. I had hoped for a more in-depth behind-the-scenes look with some more interviews, but Artisan must have been running short on time and just threw together these coupld of minutes.

Isolated Music Score: I really enjoyed the isolated music score, as do I on most other DVDs. This is probably my favorite feature of DVDs right behind the audio commentaries. I have many soundtracks and it's great to see how the music is integrated into the film itself and how it is used to set the tone at different parts of the movie. I just wish every DVD came with this great feature.

Gallery of Satanic Drawings: The gallery features a detailed look at the drawings from the movie itself along with a description, "A knight rides through a fortified town. With his finger on his lips, he counsels prudence or silence." Each drawing features the alternate version with a slight change (as per the film).

Storyboard Selections: The storyboard selections contain both the script for the scene being accessed along with the storyboard so that you can compare the two side-by-side. There are six different storyboards and the comparison with the script is a nice addition.

Navigation: The navigation of the menus is easy at times, but once you get into the special features, it can become confusing. There were a couple of times when I couldn't figure out which option I had hilighted and I was taken back to the previous menu rather than in the direction I wanted to go. It's also hard to get to the second page of special features - I completely missed it my first time through. Right next to the "Main Menu" option is an arrow which appears to be part of the Main Menu option, but it really is the arrow taking you to the second page of special features. Not a big drawback, but these aren't the easist of menus to navigate.

Conclusion: In conclusion, I found this to be an extremely enjoyable DVD. I not only liked the movie, but enjoyed the audio commentary, and especially the isolated music score. The other extras just add to the value of the DVD. Usually a disc with this many extras sells for more, but Artisan has priced this one just right. The only annoying feature, other than the confusing menus at times is the fact that Artisan has included a small ad for their services before the movie starts - similar to Universal or Disney. It can be exited through the use of the Menu button which is nice, but if I'm going to pay $25 for DVD, I don't expect there to be ads plastered throughout.

DVD Review by Blake Kunisch of

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