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Night Watch & Day Watch (Timur Bekmambetov)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Ok, so it may surprise some of you that I enjoyed these films. While I wouldn't hold them up to the classic we've been discussing, I think these two films do have a redeeming value in characterization and drama while being fun. When I reviewed IRON MAN, I stated that the film became uninteresting when the action began: the drama was in-between the explosions. The same with these two movies. I suppose that these could be considered more Horror than Science Fiction but they are an enjoyable hybrid:)

NIGHT WATCH (Timur Bekmambetov, 2004, Russia) Not just another slick vampire flick, NIGHT WATCH bleeds with viscerally engorging action and hemorrhages human pathos. The basic story concerns the battle between light and dark; equally matched, this war shall lead to the destruction of both. A truce is formed and each forms a Police Force until the coming of the Chosen One…who will ultimately decide the war. Enough exposition. NIGHT WATCH is confusing and puzzling, a visual conundrum but an outright enjoyable genre blend of science fiction, mythology, and horror. The story evolves around Anton and the fateful decision he made twelve years earlier out of anger, frustration, jealousy, and revenge…without knowing his true power. The film’s structure is fairly straightforward (thought it utilizes a few flashbacks/forwards) and doesn’t waste time with “talky” explanations; information must be gleaned from quick dialogue and visual queues…or not at all. Just go along for the ride. The generic special effects are the film’s weakness; they’re technically effective but none too original. What carries the plot is the theme of redemption, of carrying the burden of guilt, and mistakes that haunt our past can still change the future. Anton’s characterization is the key to connecting with the drama because he’s conflicted, capable of killing, and filled with remorse over his murderous acts…no matter how justified. The dark atmosphere is physical as well as metaphorical and this births nihilistic dread, a vortex of spiritual annihilation in the audience and sets the tone for the entire trilogy. Director Timur Bekmambetov lets his camera linger with the characters, moving freely and intimately towards medium close-ups, the editing subtle and barely discernable; it’s when the visual gimmicks begin that it becomes uninteresting. Anton must make two fatal decisions in the final act but it’s his humanity that saves his soul…but could destroy the world. (B-)

DAY WATCH (Timur Bekmambetov, 2006, Russia) Anton is torn apart by regret: his son lost to the Dark Others and he’s discarded by his true love Svetlana, though each will confront the other to decide the fate of the world. “You always hurt the one you love”…I’m sure Anton wishes people would stop loving him so much. DAY WATCH steps out of the gloom and shines with an absurd and surprising humor, taking itself just seriously enough to be coherent yet focusing on the characters and their human complexities. Special effects aside, this is a film that is structured around Anton’s shame, the guilt he carries that has led him to lose his son. In the last twelve years, he has become a failure as a person, he is not complete, and he is not in control over his own life. But he does hold the destiny of the entire world in the chalky palm of his hand. Anton begins the film by committing a theft so his son won’t be prosecuted for breaking the truce. He‘s too blind (or manipulated) to see that it’s a set-up that will start the great war. The convoluted story comes together in the final act as past and present collide; as Yegor begins to destroy Moscow the eternal armies fight once again, and the balance has been shifted towards darkness. But Director Timur Bekmambetov never loses sight of his characters, letting their story create the foundation for this epic fantasy. This is antithetical to the ‘Hollywood” formula where people are caricatures, paper-thin cutouts whose only purpose is to look beautiful and spout inane dialogue. Thankfully, both of these films deviate from this American confection. The dramatic atmosphere is lightened with much needed humor and even the action sequences are tempered with facetiousness. Finally, Anton’s redemption comes not from above but from deep within his own heart. (B)

message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy | 12 comments I know the movies can be a little confusing, especially if you haven't read any of the books (I've read Nightwatch), but these really aren't vampire flicks. The Nightwatch and the Daywatch are two bands of "gifted" or "empowered" (or whatever) peeps who have respectively chosen the Light and the Dark, and they mutually patrol each other to make sure that a balance is not broken. The plots of these movies differ from the books and revolve around Anton's son, who must choose between the Dark and the Light. In the first movie, Anton's actions in the past influence his son's choices, which I found very cool.

Daywatch revolves around Anton's son's (no, I can't remember his name) birthday party at the Daywatch headquarters, and the mysterious deaths of some Dark others. Anton is implicated in these deaths. He has to prove his innocence and try to win his son back.

Both movies have incredible special effects done on a miniscule budget, which I enjoyed very much. It's laugh-out-loud-for-joy stuff, pyrotechnics for fun and a wink. The Russian actors are great as well, and I would cheerfully sit through many more tales of the Watches. Me, I highly recommend both flicks - it's a cool glimpse into a foreign land of dark and light battling it out, and unlike our American mentality, the emphasis is on balance, not how one side or the other NEEDS to win.

message 3: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Perfect Amy! I can't wait for the third film though I haven't read the books. Yes, balance is the key and this unlocks the dark passageway through the human (and inhuman) drama.

message 4: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta I saw part of NIGHT WATCH but was unable to see it all. I kept meaning to rent it, but had not. Then about two months ago DAY WATCH was on IFC (or maybe SCI FI channel) and I watched it. Must have seen just enough of the first one to understand this second one.

DAY WATCH was very good. I want to go back in watch both in full now.

message 5: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I highly recommend re-watching them in order! Anyone have information on the third film?

message 6: by Mawgojzeta (new)


It is supposedly going to be filmed in English. Hmmm.

message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip I really liked Nightwatch, but haven't seen Daywatch yet. There's another one for the queue.

message 8: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Hmmmm...this worries me, I hope they keep the same actors.

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