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I have always respected fantasy-set films that try and take themselves
seriously as cinematic pieces. When a director takes the actual
construction of the film seriously, or tries to, I can respect the
intent. As such "Night Watch" is difficult to judge. The cinematography
is excellent: the camera-work is superb, the mood is perfect, the
effects are beautifully rendered (and not overused), and the timing of
individual scenes is consistent throughout the piece. The problem is
the overall timing of the film. For over half the film, the overall
plot and premise is ignored. It is very much as if we are watching two
different episodes of the same TV series; the characters are the same,
the premise is the same, it is clear how the plots fit together
visually and thematically, but otherwise they have pretty much nothing
to do with one another. They are not disjointed in their construction
or presentation, it is simply that the plot threads are mostly
It is worth pointing out that this is the first film in a planned trilogy. Every hanging plot/character moment in the film is very strongly intended to be followed through upon in the next two films, and it shows. Characters and references are not simply tossed aside, but are led into gently just enough to let the audience know that greater things are intended. While I'm not particularly a fan of this kind of thing, Night Watch does it very well, and I await the sequels with anticipation.
Many people on this board have made comparisons to Star Wars EpI-II, and for the life of me I haven't the faintest clue why. The concept of Imperfect Good vs Seductive Evil within the human soul was hardly invented by George Lucas (though vampires in Star Wars would be pretty freakin' cool), and its presentation in Night Watch is tight and interesting. There is no resemblance whatsoever, this is one of the more original films that I have ever seen, and I recommend it both for its flaws and perfections.
I enjoyed this movie quite a lot; if you are into Jeunet-type fantasy,
I would recommend that you see it. Overall, I would give it a rating of
7 out of 10. The reason for the Jeunet comparison (e.g. Delicatessen,
City of Lost Children) is that it has the same dark
antiutopian/surrealistic ambiance to it, and is very imaginative. It is
also very elaborate in its style, which lends most of the appeal to the
movie. This being said, the biggest disappointment of the movie is the
plot, which is overly straightforward and simple-minded, but at least
it does not devolve into some technical meaningless psycho-babble as
many Hollywood fantasy movies do, and maintains its fairy-tale quality.
It is unfortunate that modern Russian cinematography seems to be chasing the success of Hollywood (which is ironic, given the country's negative attitude towards US in general and Hollywood in particular), but this movie benefits from Hollywood-style special effects, and is free of annoying clichés (unlike the atrociously pretentious "Barber of Siberia" - another recent style-heavy Russian blockbuster; sorry Mikhalkov).
To sum up, this movie is quite original, imaginative, stylish and at times visually stunning, which in my book constitutes success, but don't expect any depth of ideas.
A thousand years ago two forces met on the battle field, the warriors
of light and the army of darkness. As the battle raged, the two forces
proved to be exactly balanced, and so a decision was made maintain that
balance and the two sides came to an agreement that neither side would
breach. And to enforce the agreement two watches were formed: the Day
Watch and the Night Watch. The Night Watch is composed of the forces of
good who work keep the forces of evil from breaching the agreement and
vice versa. The watches continue today... Warriors of virtue (some are
shape changers, others have less definable talents) who fight against
rogue vampires, witches, etc. Both sides are usually invisible to
normal people unless they choose to be seen, except for a few "others"
who can see and interact with the immortals. And therein lies the
instability, because the "others" also have the potential to become
immortals and they can go toward either side. Plus, there is a prophecy
of a "Great One" who will shift the balance, plunging the world into an
era of light or darkness.
Great action, good use of CGI and practical effects. Excellent soundtrack. It reminded me quite a bit of Jeunet's directional style (CITY OF LOST CHILDREN), but more than anything the movie reminded me of the recent Bollywood sci-fi actioner RUDRAKSCH.
This one is definitely recommended if you are tired of the same old Hollywood formula crap. Especially if you are a fan of Horror/Action with a dash of Sci-Fi.
When the forces of light and dark take to battle and realize they are
equally strong, decide to make a truce. The people of light will become
the Nightwatch, and the people of darkness will become the Daywatch.
Neither side can force people to join their side, they have the freedom
of choice. The Daywatch and Nightwatch keep tabs to make sure this
When Anton finds out he is an other; a person with special powers, he joins the side of light. Anton is a seer and when he is finding a victim of two vampires, he runs into Svetlana, a virgin cursed with bad luck and key into the Apocolpes.
Night Watch is a mind blowing, visually astounding triumph of Russian cinema. Its dark, claustrophobic, grungy and a very thrilling ride. You can see that Timur Bekmambetov has a history in commercials, this moves at a fast paced and the camera doesn't stop moving, with constant fast swoops and always tracking around. The story has been done many times before, but it seems so fresh here. The flaw of the story though is that it's so layered it's hard to understand at first. As it moves at such at fast pace, there isn't much chance to take everything in and to nut everything out. But with all the energy Nightwatch contains, you don't care, cause you'll gladly go again.
For the small budget it had, you wonder how they made this film. You are constantly blown away by the visual effects. They are so flawless. The subtitles are cleverly used as well; they come into a form of their own.
All i can say is i cant wait for the sequels to now make there way over.
On the surface the story line appears to be standard Hollywood stock; a
race of super-humans (called "Others") exists. The Others are divided
into two camps: the keepers of the light and the army of darkness.
1,000 years ago they fought each other to a bloody stalemate and signed
the Truce. The standard Hollywood story line stops there. The Truce has
very specific terms and any individual caught violating the Truce faces
severe consequences. Both sides continually cheat the Truce and bait
each other to violate its terms so that they can catch and punish the
guilty individuals. The most important rule of the Truce is that each
Other must decide freely which camp they wish to join: the Light or the
The movie follows a boy who is destined to be the Great Other who will tip the balance of power to the camp he decides to join. The story is filled with stunning visuals and sound effects - think the best elements of The Matrix and Highlander with a bit of Sin City thrown in. All the characters are three dimensional and the actors' performances are superb. (A rarity in action films these days.) In Night Watch the line between good and evil is often blurred. The lead character struggles with what is a truly a moral action and what is not. Night Watch does not offer any easy answers to this question. After all, what is moral and what is not is something that each of us must decide freely for ourselves.
This is an incredible movie and is not one you have seen before. I highly recommend it.
I bought this movie a month or two ago. Unlike most movies I have seen
for a while, this movie grabs your imagination and doesn't let go. From
the story line, to the cinematography, to the surprise that a few
certain scenes were computer-rendered... I was captivated by this
I had heard that this movie did very well in the Russian box office from a friend, and decided to buy it. If this movie were to be released in the US, it would probably rank equally as high.
Nochnoj dozor delves into the realms of good and evil. The story is that a treaty was made during an ancient war between good and evil, the agreement being a balance between the two. Evil would set up a "Day Watch" to police the Light/Good beings. They, in turn, ran a "Night Watch" which would police the Dark/Evil beings.
The supernatural powers of both sides, which are portrayed in the movie, are some of the cleanest 'movie-magic' I have ever seen.
"Night Watch" is far more entertaining than many of its American
counterparts in the "secret underground world of vampires and good vs.
evil" genre. Unlike "Underworld" and "Constantine" it kept my attention
throughout, but still this Russian smash is severely flawed.
First, let's applaud the good parts. "Night Watch" is distinctly Russian. Moscow is presented as a vibrant mix of modern metropolis and Gothic-style throwback to the middle ages. The plot, heavily steeped in its own fabricated mythology from a series of popular books, also serves on some level as an allegory for the fall of Communism and the rise of Capitalism. In my mind, the forces of "dark" forced underground are the Communists, while the forces of "light" (whose HQ is fronted by the City Electric Company) are the Capitalists, who often get caught up in their own bureaucracy in their vain attempts to keep the peace and not violate the truce. Some of the special effects and modern riffs on vampirism are highly imaginative and disarming (I loved "The Gloom" aspect). The American distributors also deserve some credit for their creative use of subtitles which often become part of the scene without ever distracting from the visuals.
Unfortunately, the director is clearly a veteran of music videos, and he makes the action sequences hyper kinetic and often incoherent. When he does manage to create an alluring visual, he quick-cuts, and you wish he would've had the patience to hold some of the shots longer. This hectic visual style is evident in the plotting as well, which clearly is setting up for sequels with the introduction of many characters, though some of the subplots (especially involving the cursed virgin woman and her evil vortex) seemed unnecessary. Likewise, the rushed finale seemed oddly anti-climatic and didn't pack the wallop I feel the filmmakers intended.
Despite the flaws, I will eagerly await the American distribution of the sequels, and I suppose that is the greatest compliment a film like this can receive.
"Night Watch" is one of the most expensive Russian film production ever
and enjoyed in it's home country the best movie start of all time (15
million US $ in its first month), but is it any good? Yes and no. First
of all, let me say that this is a special effects film and even though
for a Russian production this has a comparatively huge budget for CGI
and makeup f/x, the results are decidedly mixed. Most of it is OK, with
single drops into the ridiculous. The direction by former ad director
Bekmambetov is stylish enough, without forgetting to portray the
grittiness of Russian life circumstances. The actors are competent,
though leading man Konstantin Khabensky is lacking in the charisma
department. The story ultimately is the measurement of what is good and
bad about "Night Watch" and it does contain both. The novels, on which
this film is based, are pretty complex, making this the first in a
trilogy, with "Day Watch" and "Dusk Watch" to come. The presented
battle between good and evil supernatural beings is reminiscent of
other genre efforts, but unlike, say "Underworld", "Night Watch" takes
its elements seriously. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand you have
a real mythology underlying events instead of a starting point for
subway machine gun battles of longhairs, on the other there is no humor
in the picture and the reverent and dead serious tone in spite of the
bizarre events is sometimes overdone and a little laughable. The idea
of supernatural police forces observing and checking each other is a
nice one, as are numerous quirky little ideas, but overall there are
two lame stereotypes for every good and fresh idea. Most disappointing
is the double climax letdown. The 'grudge' storyline is extremely well
built up with lots of suspense but ends with a whimper instead of a
bang. The climax of the 'kid' storyline is muddled as well, but does
offer a nice full circle resolution to one aspect of the story and
features an interesting cliffhanger.
Overall, the shortcomings are (just slightly) outweighed by a fresh, different and decidedly un-Hollywood take on fantasy movie standards. This is an interesting and worthy effort, though strictly for fans of the fantasy/mystery genre.
I was reluctant to see this film for so long.
It was mainly in defiance towards that frantic promotion campaign positioning it as the first ever "unrivalled Russian blockbuster" and "a groundbreaking achievement of the decade".
The soundtrack is annoyingly offered for the cell phones: you saw the movie - now set your ringtone to the Night Watch terrific score!
Now it is allegedly considered as the most possible nominee for the Academy Award, while American either remake or sequel is underway.
A real misfortune of the contemporary Russian cinema is that hardly concealed inferiority complex. Some filmmakers no longer shoot movies just to entertain the moviegoers. They strive with their last bit of strength in pursuit of the ultimate goal: TO MAKE AN EXCEPTIONAL FILM THAT WOULD BLOW UP THE Hollywood.
I don't really much incline to the idea that we are somehow aesthetically and culturally above the rest of the world and that we should obligatory go our own way.
But I'm afraid that the efforts to prove, at any cost, that WE ALSO CAN DO A COOL STUFF with bells and whistles, (at least not worse than the "big guys") may be not exactly the right path to the top.
Well, it's a way better than the arms race, but a work of art falls into somewhat self-sufficient category and shouldn't be an object of that sort of competition.
I believe a film doesn't have to bear a specific nationality. Once it is considered irrespective of the country of origin, and could be valued purely as is, just for it's inner virtues, it may look much more appealing.
To be honest, all that my reasoning, however, refers to the hysteria around the Night Watch, rather than to the film itself.
Unexpectedly to myself, I've bought an occasional (licensed) DivX with the Night Watch just to test MPEG4 capabilities of a DVD player.
And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. I found it rather atmospheric, gripping and engaging as well as neatly produced. I may say I liked it.
The cast was great, acting - almost impeccable and not over the top (what frequently degrades modern Russian fantasy, sci-fi or action movies). Some dialogues, nevertheless, could have been a bit more articulate.
The cinematography was equally nice - I liked that fancy shooting angles and professional camera-work. Effects were descent and balanced.
The closing titles background song was pretty cool. Frankly I'm not so much enthusiastic about that sort of tiresome music. What is really awesome about the song is its humorous lyrics embracing the entire movie plot.
The idea of the film/book is quite interesting (though not brand new). Numerous dark forces lurk somewhere in a parallel world unseen to unsophisticated humans. Until the time when some of their most villainous representatives would be eager to play with their unsuspecting victims. It is, however, contrary to a certain pact between the good and the evil specifying that both good and evil doings should be controlled and approved by both parties that have established for that reason the respective teams of guardians, the Night Watch and the Day Watch.
Entirely new for the movies with such kind of a pleasant premise is that none has ever got killed, except for a handful of malefactors (like that stoned bloodsucker). Just some pinpoint accurate destructions here and there, minor violence and mild torture. A close-up shot of the finger pinned for a blood sample was the only scene that made my temporal vein twitch of disgust. Menshov's healer-like manipulations with Khabensky's entrails were impressively staged.
A serious drawback of the film is the lack of explanation on some principle points. It's not that the philosophy was too complex for my convolutions. But the coherency of the storytelling was impaired at times. Like certain chunks of the film have been lost among leftovers on the cutting room's floor.
My son, familiar with the Lukyanenko's novel, was giving brief tips in the course of the action, which were conducive to the overall comprehensibility.
Final verdict: not for all tastes, but refreshing and worth watching, at least once.
P.S. Amazingly, the majority of the IMDb positive reviews comes from overseas audience, while the Russian reviewers lash the Night Watch with a scathing sarcasm.
This is a very very entertaining film. It has some nice special effects
for a film with such a small budget. Great acting by some believable
actors. Great dialogue. Cool, fun action sequences. But the real
backbone of this film is the mythology upon which the whole plot lies.
The mythology created by the original author upon which the film is based, belongs up there with the great ones like Lucas' Star Wars, the Wachowski brothers' Matrix, Tolkien's LOTR, Herbert's Dune. It just has that kind of history and interesting terms and names and events that make you go, "Wow! What's that all about?...That is so cool! I wanna learn more! Wouldn't be cool to live in that universe?" The funny thing for me though, is that this mythology, is a "vampire" related mythology. And since reading the Anne Rice novels and her well described history of the vampires, I have not been able to accept anyone else's interpretation of vampires. Kate Beckinsale in Underworld...no! And even though I think that the acting and writing for Buffy the Vampire Slayer was some of the best stuff on television, I just did not think that their treatment of vampire mythology was up to standard. But here in Night Watch...it worked! I thought that this was a tremendous film and enjoyed it greatly. I would absolutely recommend it, especially if you like any of the above mythical worlds, and are looking to get yourself into another one. Can't wait for the sequels!
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