‘Day Watch’ Whets Appetites for ‘Wanted’
(Please welcome guest blogger Krysta Scharlach to Comics Alliance! — John)
For those who missed Night Watch, and are unaware of the universe and mythology created within, Day Watch is a film about the supernatural forces that live on the fringes of our world. There are Dark Others and Light Others, and the two sides have maintained an unstable truce for a thousand years. The truce is closely guarded by the Night watch, and organization of Light Others who keep the Dark Others in line. The Night watch is in turn kept in line by the Day watch.
The main character in both films is Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky), a regular sort of fellow who went to a witch ten years ago to have a spell cast to punish his unfaithful wife… by killing her unborn child. A child that he believes is not his. The spell was interrupted by the Night watch, and during the ensuing struggle Anton displayed supernatural abilities, prompting the Night watch to offer him a position. Twelve years later, he is fully trained and a powerful soldier for the Night watch.
The problem is…that the unborn baby that was almost killed? Turned out to actually be his son, Yegor, who is more powerful than anyone imagined. Now a young man, Yegor is on the verge of becoming a Great Other, and when he learns the truth about his father, the he chooses to take the side of the Dark Others, possibly tipping the scales.
Meanwhile, there is another Great Other in the works. Svetlana, the blonde with the giant glasses and giant screaming vortex of doom over her head who Anton saved, is now a trainee in the Night watch.
There were several other plot threads that ran throughout the sometimes convoluted Night Watch, including bits and pieces of the stories surrounding Olga, who was bound as a bird for quite some time as punishment for a crime, and Kostya who was Anton’s neighbor and also happened to be a Vampire. All of these and more are entwined with new threads in the long awaited second chapter of the trilogy, Day Watch.
Plot Spoilers ahead, so beware!
For much of Day Watch, a lighter theme runs throughout. There was plenty of snickering throughout the theater during some of the early scenes in which Anton and Olga magically switched bodies. And about that, Galina Tyunina has some serious skills. She actually made me think Anton was walking around in her body.
Actually, there were some snickers from the crowd anytime the Chalk Of Fate was mentioned early on as well. Those snickers disappeared as the movie wore on though, and the serious nature of what the Chalk could do was revealed. The Chalk can literally rewrite history. It can erase mistakes, correct wrongs, and free the wielder of it to relive their greatest mistakes with a different outcome.
The effects that made Night Watch stand out are back in Day Watch. Less time is spent showing transformations of various shape shifters, but there are some new faces in the mix. Perhaps the director felt that the three minutes of awesomeness that we were treated to when Olga originally transformed back into a human was enough to get the point across. Or perhaps they were too busy having fun with the Mazda RX-8 drifting vertically across the side of a building to throw in another gloppy feather-filled scene. Either way, the visual effects kept us gasping until the end. Especially at the end.
The movie grew darker as the climax drew nearer, and we were treated to a nightmare vision of Moscow being utterly destroyed in a screaming mass of shattering glass and grinding steel.
Like any film, Day Watch had minor things that were less than perfect. But they were exactly that, minor. A couple of scenes went on a little too long. Some of the stunts were completely over the top. One had me wondering why indeed a group of motorcycles would attempt to run that giant, badass Night Watch truck off the road. But even those things couldn’t pull me out of the world that Timur Bekmambetov built so carefully around his audience.
Enough cannot be said about the amazing effects in these films. For those who missed out and watched the English dubbed version of Night Watch, get out to the theater and watch the Russian version of Day Watch. I have never seen subtitles used in the way that these guys do. They drift across the screen. They dissipate like blood in water. They pound with the rhythm of knocking. They convey emotion. They appear and disappear at will. One of the best examples of this, was when Yegor’s teacher was being hunted by a hidden attacker. Two or three sentences subtitles flashed so quickly across the screen as her mind was racing and she was completely flipping out, that you couldn’t even read them. Not that you needed to, because the message was clear as day. Absolutely brilliant.
Day Watch was significantly easier to follow than its predecessor. Perhaps some lessons about editing were learned during the process of translating and recutting Night Watch. The plot, while complicated, was not as difficult to follow.
For a long time, fans of horror fantasy have been begging for something different than the same old drivel that Hollywood keeps pumping out. And while there have been a few good ones in the past few years, Timur Bekmambetov and company have answered the call with these films so far. We can only hope that the final installment, Dusk Watch, will follow along the same vein.
And speaking of that vein, the excitment is building for Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Mark Millar and J.G. Jones’ Wanted. Angelina Jolie stars, and if anyone can pull off the atmosphere and ambiance that film needs, it is Timur Bekmambetov. Sign me up for opening night!