Saturday, January 16, 2016

Movie Review: Day Watch (2006)

Day Watch (2006) co-written and directed by Timur Bekmambetov

After the tough ending of the last film, Light Other Anton Gorodetsky is back in emotional doldrums. He has been partnered with Svetlana to train her in Night Watch duties and abilities. She flirts with him but he's too grumpy and self-absorbed. They are called to investigate a Dark Other who is attacking an old lady in public. On the scene, Anton recognizes the boy as his son, who has joined the Dark Others because he thinks his dad wanted to kill him in his mother's womb (it's complicated, see the first movie). Naturally he wants to protect his son from harm, but the son is very powerful and could trigger the end of the world. The Others have the ability to go into the Gloom, a sort of alternate dimension of human reality. There is a sub-level of the Gloom that only the most powerful Others can enter. The son flees there and Svetlana follows. Anton can't go there, so she is clearly more powerful (she almost triggered the end of the world in the last movie). The boy escapes and tension mounts as Anton tries to cover his son's tracks and avoid a murder rap for a Dark Other who has mysteriously died.

One possible tool Anton could use is the Chalk of Fate, which allows the user to go back in time and do things differently. The movie opens with a scene in ancient Asia where a guy named Tamerline breaks into the fortress protecting the Chalk and steals it. He eventually dies and legend has it the Chalk is buried with him in his tomb. Can Anton sneak off to Samarkand and save his own family, if not the whole world?

The movie has a lot of story elements woven into it and not all are fully developed. At one point the Inquisitors show up. They are a group of people who keep the treaty between the Dark and Light Others, which is fully explained in the books but comes out of left field in this movie (they were not mentioned in the first film and it seemed that the Dark and Light were enforcing the treaty on each other). Other parts of the storytelling are choppy as well. The ending is satisfying morally but does feel like a cheat narratively.

The special effects are amazing but not as inventive as in the first film. The scale is much larger and more things happen in the real world, less in the Gloom. The highly stylized subtitles of the first film are gone, though I'd say that was because the first film didn't do well at the American box office so they put less effort into subtitling the sequel. It's a shame because the subtitling added to the mystique of their world.

If you liked the first film, definitely watch this one to see the end of the story. But this film doesn't really stand on its own and is not as good as the first film.

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