Friday, July 28, 2006
Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) (2004)
Night Watch (aka Nochnoi Dozor) is a Russian horror/action flick that took my breath away with its special fx and dark atmosphere. It was a blockbuster in Russia, breaking many box office records. I don't think it did too well in its release in the U.S., though, which is a shame. I wish we had more movies like this instead of pointless drivel like Underworld (though I do enjoy it as a guilty pleasure).
For centuries, there has been a truce between the forces of Light and the forces of Dark. They are equally balanced, and to keep that balance the Light police the Dark at night (the Night Watch) while the Dark police the Light during the day (the Day Watch). The balance between the two is precarious, as anyone who becomes an Other (humans with super powers) has the choice between either side, Light or Dark. Prophecy tells of an Other who will come and disrupt the balance forever, giving either Light or Dark the upper hand.
I wished the film had told us more about the Others - both from the Light and the Dark realms. This film mainly dealt with vampires (from the Dark) and shapeshifters/seers (from the Light). There are so many more possibilities!
Night Watch seems more sophisticated, at least in visuals, than its contemporary counterparts. The fx in the film are very well done - I enjoyed how the camera zoomed out on the first battle between Light and Dark to show them fighting on a very tall bridge, while hundreds of ravens flew around the battle. Also, the action sequences were very well done, I just wish there had been more fight scenes between the main protagonist, Anton, and the Dark Others. The overall look and atmosphere of the film was probably my favorite thing about it. I watched the Russian version, and even the subtitles were creatively designed to move with the action. Very very clever and stylish.
The plot was simple, but jumped around quite a bit. It didn't seem very cohesive, but I hope it's just because this film is lying down the mythology for the next two films. Yes, this is the first film in a trilogy, and I can't wait to see what happens next. The ending to this one was a bit anti-climactic, especially in the subplot with the Virgin and the Vortex. I hope this subplot sticks around in the next few movies, as it seems to have been resolved far too easily. The very end comes as quite a shock, though I probably should have seen it coming.
Night Watch was a very entertaining movie that I will probably end up buying. It is very stylish, but still has a gritty feeling to it. A very nice entry into the horror/action/sci-fi/fantasy genre. Check it out if you get the chance!