movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Friday, February 17, 2006


The most successful movie in the history of Russia? Now the sensation has been released in the US.

NIGHT WATCH is the first part in a trilogy of films by writer/director Timur Bekmambetov, based on a trilogy of books by Russian author Sergi Lukyanenko. The story is complex, but incredibly simple. In this world there are vampires, shape shifters, wizards, fortunetellers and other variations of individuals. They are referred to as the “Others”. These Others are either on the side of light or dark, feeding off the lightness or darkness in the humans of the world. In the ancient times there was a battle between the Others that resulted in a truce, or a balance between light and dark. This balance must be maintained. It is a classic tale of good vs. evil but with a twist of the supernatural. With that, the stage is set for a visual spectacle that tries to be the Russian equivalent of LORD OF THE RINGS.

So I went into this movie with quite a build up. The money it made. The scope of the project. The visuals that people have raved about. That being said, my expectations were still low. I really had no idea what to expect. My reaction to the film? Honestly… I am still not sure. This is the first two hours of a six-hour movie. There are things that I liked and things that I didn’t.

The story is a little overly complex for its own good and with the chaotic nature of the storytelling, there are things that are vague and I don’t think need to be. I don’t know if everything that was brought up in NIGHT WATCH will be discussed or explored in the sequels, but what I do know is that in this movie, style takes priority over substance. The energy of the film is so frenetic, that it makes the story hard to follow at times. The movie is often over cut, with too many effects and not enough care put into the storytelling. At times I felt like I was watching a really long commercial for a product that I knew nothing about. Could this vagueness be intentional? Personally I don’t think so, but that is because I don’t know the filmmaker and have little faith.

The first thing that I will mention is the thing that most people talk about when discussing NIGHT WATCH. The visuals. This movie is creative and visually stunning throughout most of the 2 hour running time. The effects are first rate and better than many of the big budget American films that I have seen. Bekmambetov has a confidence with the effects and the camera movements that is rare. I got the feeling watching this movie that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is real talent here and I am not surprised that US companies have already snatched up this filmmaker for an English language film. That is what you get for being a talented foreign director… You get “adopted” by the US and you get to/have to make American movies. This process usually ruins directors (John Woo), but sometimes it does not (Jean-Pierre Jeunet). I hope that Timur Bekmambetov is strong enough to resist the sweet taste of Hollywood and not compromise his vision.

Another part of the film that I really liked was the use of the subtitles. This was not a choice of the filmmakers, but one of Fox Searchlight. This is such a visual film… why not have the subtitles be visual as well? They sink off the screen, dissolve into the air, scroll across as computer type, vary in color and appearance and other tricks. I have seen this attempted before in MAN ON FIRE, but it was a little unmotivated and distracting. I liked the idea, but the execution was flawed. In NIGHT WATCH it adds to the story and to the storytelling. I applaud Fox for taking a chance on this aspect of the film and it totally pays off. It embraces the subtitles as part of the film, not an afterthought.

As a movie, I really don’t know what to think about NIGHT WATCH just yet. This is just the set up of a much larger story. Will it all pay off in the next two installments? Will all the questions be answered? I can’t say. What I can say is that I found this movie entertaining and it really made me want to come back for more. I am there for the next two. The next installment, DAY WATCH, is set to be released this year in the US and the final installment, DUSK WATCH, released world wide in 2007.

Things to be kept in mind before entering into the movie…
This is the first third of a 6-hour movie, so lots of this movie is spent with set up of the characters and the world. It is entertaining, but a good deal of it might not make a whole lot of sense while you are watching it. Keep the big picture in mind and just sit back and enjoy the show. When all is said and done, NIGHT WATCH could be a great movie. We will have to wait and see. For now… it is just fun.


Post a Comment

<< Home

free web tracker