DVD & Video File (Starburst Reviews) DVD File and VideoFile by Ian Atkins
From Starburst's monthly Reviews section
selected from Starburst #272

Selected this month:
The Ninth Gate on VHS and What Planet are you From? on DVD

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The Ninth Gate • 23 April • Cert 15 • Vision Video

Ninth Gate on VHS - order from BlackStar today!

The Bookworm That Turned

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There’s a strong tradition in ghost stories of the supernatural lurking in the books ancient academia. M R James made a career of tales about learned men dabbling with things they shouldn’t, and The Ninth Gate keeps firmly within this realm.

Johnny Depp plays Dean Corso, an unscrupulous book seller. He’s asked to locate three tomes which can provide access to devilish powers and quickly discovers he’s not the only one in this pursuit. His hunt across Europe (well, a Roman Polanski flick can’t spend too long in America) takes on a Noir quality, from its chain-smoking anti-hero to the various femme fatales (Emmanuelle Seignier, Lena Olin) crossing his path.

The brooding mood of the film maintains a supernatural influence, without actually providing anything you can point to as other-worldly; exactly how James et al worked. Most of the Horror is in the viewer’s head, and it’s surprisingly effective. The only real let down is a finale which doesn’t reward the patient viewer: you expect more than a few lacklustre pyrotechnics. Still, Depp is excellent, and the travelogue direction makes you hanker for a holiday in Europe.

Starburst rating: 8

What Planet are you From?
15 January • Cert 15 • Columbia Tristar Home Video • Screen Format: 1.85:1 • DVD (also on VHS Rental)

What Planet...? on DVD - order from BlackStar today!

Isn’t Sci-Fi Funny? Good Question.

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Unregarded on its cinema release, and one of those films relying on a US TV celebrity who means little to the British (here Garry Shandling, whose Larry Sanders Show has been buried away and messed about by BBC2 for years), What Planet... has a reputation as a major dud. Not so.

While Sci-Fi films are frequently regarded as escapist, occasionally one comes along which so requires you putting your brain on hold that it deserves a genre all to its own. UFOs we accept. Aliens from four solar systems away we just accept. Someone with a humming crotch asking to have sex with every woman he meets in America and not getting... That we have trouble with.

But that’s what you get with What Planet..., a ‘sex comedy’ way before Sci-Fi gets a look in. Garry Shandling stars as an alien on a mission to impregnate a woman within two days. Of course it’s not as easy as he thinks, which is where the comedy lies. Cue “Aren’t women peculiar?” gags, segueing into alien-falling-in-love ending.

Perhaps due to director Mike Nichols the cast is outstanding, and at the end of the day, Shandling, John Goodman, Greg Kinnear, Linda Fiorentino and Ben Kingsley all deliver great comic performances which is, after all, what they’re there for - just don’t expect a strong Sci-Fi movie.

Starburst Rating: 7


The talent profiles present text pages for the director and each of the main actors. The featurette is one of those classic ones comprised of the trailer intercut with talking-head snippets from the stars: and the trailer’s on there too, to show you what they made it from. Finally it’s possible to listen to the isolated Carter Burwell score.

Starburst Rating: 2

Reviews © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction