The Ninth Gate [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Artisan Entertainment
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 43,139,241,001 bytes
Feature Size: 41,907,210,240 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.82 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 11th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4766 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4766 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
English, English (SDH), Spanish, none
• Commentarywith director Roman Polanski
• PromoFeaturette (2:02)
• 6 Storyboard selections (ability to choose the script of the storyboard)
• Gallery of 20 Satanic Drawings
• Two trailers in SD (1:49 + :44)
• Trailer for The Eye (2:10 in HD!)
Description: Dean Corso is highly skilled at his work, a position which requires dexterity, cultural expertise, nerves of steel... and few scruples. Known for locating rare books for wealthy collectors, Corso is hired by eminent book-lover and scholar of demonology, Boris Balkan. Corson's mission: to find the last two volumes of legendary manual of satanic invocation "The Ninth Gates of the Shadow Kingdom," compare them Balkan's first volume, supposedly the only one of its kind, and ascertain the authenticity of the series. Corso accepts the challenge. From New York to Toledo, Paris to Cintra, he immerses himself in a labyrinth full of pitfalls and temptations, disturbing encounters, violence and mysterious deaths. Protected by an angelic creature and guided by a force more powerful than himself, Corso solves one by one the mysteries of the dreaded Book and discovers the real purpose of his mission.
With adevilish core akin to Rosemary's Baby, Roman Polanski returns with "The Ninth Gate" where an unscrupulous rare-book dealer named Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) travels to Europe in search of two copies of "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows" - hinted as Lucifer's very own penned verses. His client, Frank Langella, wants him to find the only true copy - comparing it to the one in his possession. Sexual distractions arise in the form of Lena Olin's garter-belted, and snake-tattooed, butt and mystic Emmanuelle Seigner's (yes, Roman's real wife) eyes.
The ambiguous conclusion is less than satisfying but the suspenseful build with creepy Euro-haunts keeps us intrigued. Polanski hints at greatness but although he doesn't achieve - the ride is, somehow, worth it. The Ninth Gate has moments of the director's uncanny stealth and as a whole it's better than most critics will admit.
Technically-speaking the Lionsgate Blu-ray appears quite strong with the film taking up almost 42 Gig and the video bitrate closing in on 35 Mbps. Unfortunately, the image doesn't co-operate much and it looks very underwhelming for most of the film. I actually checked more than once to make sure it wasn't MPEG-2. The frail quality exhibited in the beginning of the film slowly dissipates and the outdoor sequences in Europe show the most strength. I don't have evidence that it looked dissimilar theatrically. Colors show a bit of life but the image seems clouded without any texture. I don't suspect manipulations but the Blu-ray exports a fairly mundane appearance. It is, however, consistent and certainly vaults over SD-DVD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Many would consider the DTS-HD Master 7.1, at a whopping 4766 kbps, to have a leg up above the visuals. Considering the content though - it's not the most aggressive score with only a few instances of active separation (the collapsing scaffolds and the train as 2 examples). This may be at the crux of why the film doesn't work for some people. The film's audio doesn't export all the creepy atmospheric subtleties typical of, and often overused by, the genre. Wojciech Kilar's classical-infused original score works well as his efforts did with Polanski's Death and the Maiden (an unjustly underrated film, btw). There are only English or Spanish subtitle choices and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Supplements include a decent commentary from Polanski who admits that he finds it strange re-watching one of his films, while sitting in his office, a year after completing it - something he rarely would do. I always like listening to him - he brings up production details that only a man in his position could relate. Aside from that there is nothing really appealing about the extras. We have a promo featurette that runs just over 2 measly minutes, an interesting inclusion of 6 storyboard selections with the ability to choose looking at the script or the drawn capture itself. The gallery of 20 Satanic drawings looks to be right from the book used in the film. There are two SD trailers in SD and one for 'The Eye' in HD.
July 28th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze