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Night Watch
DVD disk
06.27.2006 By: Matt Hosack
Night Watch order
Director:
Timur Bekmambetov

Actors:
Konstantin Khabensky
Vladimir Menshov
Valeri Zolotukhin

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Light Vs Dark Ė itís that age old tale that has been used and re-used to both good and bad effect. NOCHNOY DOZOR or NIGHT WATCH is the first part of a Russian fantasy tale about a simple man, Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky), who finds himself mixed up in an age old battle of good (the night watch) vs evil (the day watch). Ultimately, Anton must choose sides and prepare for the coming apocalypse and the ultimate final battle.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
After years of hype and talk, NIGHT WATCH is finally widely available here in the States. With the filmís success over in Russia, we had heard various things about this movie early on. So, does the film live up to the hype? The answer is not really. If anything though, itís a great effort. As a reviewer, Iíve seen my share of crappy horror and sci-fi flicks and thankfully, NIGHT WATCH doesnít fall in those categories. I have exactly three problems with this film. First, itís Act 1 of 3 and the first part of the film is way too confusing and muddled for itís own good. Things immediately start off on the right foot with a flashback and some narration, but when the film shoots forward in time, the audience is left with a bunch of quick cuts and a whole LOT of confusion. By the end of the film, you can pick up pieces here and there about who these people are and what they are trying to accomplish (possibly), but by then the filmís over.

My second biggest problem has to do with the overly simplistic storyline. That is to say, with all of the gravitas and confusion, when you cut right to the meat of the story, itís purely childish and almost laughable. Leading me to my third beef. The acting is way to intense and serious for its own good. All of these actors are just devoid of anything human. When you are dealing with people that turn into animals, vampires, and the like, it usually helps to inject an emotion other than intensity into the film. That is to say there is hardly any comedy at ALL in the entire picture and I desperately needed a release here and there. These three elements really hinder the picture from being truly great and thatís a shame. On the flip side, the film is oh so very slick with some great special effects and camerawork. I swear there were several times that I thought director Timur Bekmambetov was Michael Bay! Also, after investing so much into these characters, I really want to see the sequel films starting with DAY WATCH even with such a lackluster beginning, the trilogy does have potential. All of this to say, that NIGHT WATCH is a very heavy and brooding fantasy that is definitely only for that niche viewership.
THE EXTRAS
Extended Ending ďThe RoofĒ w/ optional Commentary >> For starters, the commentary is available in both English and Russian, which is nice. The ending is comparable if only that it sort of bridges to the next film. The commentary is a bit confusing.

Audio Commentary by Director Timur Bekmambetov >> While the director tries to beat the language barrier, things can be confusing. I hand it to the man for trying and he comes off very confident.

Text Commentary by Novelist Sergei Lukianenko >> Sergeiís text comments are quite inciteful and sometimes funny. When Sergei gets mad at the directorís changes, I found it to be hilarious. Good stuff.

Lastly, thereís a look at DAY WATCH and that got me excited, though itís all too brief.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Rounding things up, NIGHT WATCH is a competent albeit confusing first film of a Russian fantasy trilogy. While things can be confusing and sometimes soulless, thereís enough here to warrant a return trip. I will say that I recommend only the most devout sci-fi/horror/fantasy fans to venture because if youíre not into any of this stuff to begin with, you certainly wonít ďget it.Ē

Props 2 > Bekmambetov for shaking up Russian cinema

Final D >> A good rental for all you sci-fi/horror/fantasy freaks
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