Quantcast NIGHT WATCH review

NIGHTWATCH (Feb. 06) by Jsyn.

BACK IN THE U.S.S.R!

If this movie cannot shake up Hollywood's attitude towards anything new and different, I don't know what will. Here we have a wholly original idea (the first part of a trilogy) that was created in a part of the world where people stand on line for bread. American film makers who bitch about "never catching a break" should be ashamed of themselves. I'll get down off this soapbox for a sec to tell you why this movie fucking kicks ass...

Let's start with the Others. They are pretty much any "supernatural" beings. Vampires, shape-shifters, witches, anything or anyone that is not just human. The basic principal here is that an Other must choose between either the Light or Dark. It's similar to the X-MEN theme of Muties being born with power, but not born good or evil per se. It's about individual choices and the situations that affect those choices.

So now we have the basic story of Good Guys verses Bad Guys. Sort of... more like, both sides follow a fragile set of checks and balances so they don't destroy humanity in the process of trying to destroy each other. Think a supernatural cold war. An uneasy truce with agents for both sides everywhere making sure there's no funny stuff happening either way.

Instead of cool spy gadgets, these agents can transform into animals and alter reality and shit. Now this business has been going on for a long, long time, but it's prophesied that one day there will come an Other that will tip the balance of power for the warriors of Light or Dark... depending on what side he chooses to align with. Of course, both sides want this MVP playing for their team and so the saga begins.

There are many simple but clever ideas in this movie that truly give the film it's own flavor, even though the subject matter is familiar. I like the fact that even though both sides keep tabs on each other, only the Light can issue the Dark "licenses" to do their thing. Just like human Law, it ain't always fair for everyone. There is a form a vampire has to fill out in order to turn someone. While that dosen't sound so romantic, it mirrors most mundane tasks in normal, daily life...especially in a place like the former Soviet Union. I guess oppression occurs in all societies. It's those little touches that really flesh out the mythology and humanize these inhuman characters. All that cerebral stuff aside, it's got plenty of action and thrills that rival any found in brainfarts like say, THE ISLAND. The armies of Light and Dark battle on bridges and rooftops, chicks transform into tigers and owls transform into chicks... fuck yeah, this has got it all!

NIGHT WATCH is like a much smarter, supernaturally-flavored Micheal Bay-esque movie that compells you to actually think and grasp new ideas. It's already deeper and more intellegent than those so-vanilla UNDERWORLD flicks, while still remaing familiar enough to hook an audience in.

I love the way the subtitles were handled... they completely compliment and do not distract from the story. It's similar to the subs in MAN ON FIRE where they reacted to the action as it happened. For example, when one character hears "the call" of a vampire, the fonts bleed out and dissappate in the frame and interact with the shots. It's a clever way of making a foreign film more accessible to people who don't like to "read when they are trying to watch a movie". Good thing smarter heads prevailed at Fox Searchlight and they chose not to bother with godawful english-dubbing.

The cast was great even though I can't pronounce most of their names, the CGI was handled perfectley and not misused or overdone, and the entire movie had an epic quality that really sold it for me. Because it's a trilogy adapted from a bestselling series of (Soviet) books, from what I've seen so far I expect the upcoming DAY WATCH and DUSK WATCH to be just as good.

Do yourself a favor when NIGHT WATCH opens. Try something different, explore other cultures and ideas, and see what else is going on outside Hollywood. A movie ticket to NIGHT WATCH is much cheaper than airfare to Moscow.

Super-duper Recommended!

Kr u to! Klj o vo!

- Jsyn


*(Special thanks to Michael J. Hein and the NYC Horror Film Festival for the invite to this advance screening!)


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