Night Watch

Cover Art: 8/10
Even though the cover actually sells a more creepy tone than the movie truly offers, it’s a keeper. I like it. I like dark themes, dark characters, and anything vampirish. The dinghy colors and disturbing “torn” face, combined with bats, red eyes…’s all so intense. Love it. The menus are action clips from the movie, but stripped to a stark black and white, oh and red…bloody and good. Most of the time I hate it when they put any hint of the movie in the menus, but this time you don’t get any low down on the story and it doesn’t give anything away, so it’s cool.

Extras: 7/10

  • The Roof Extended Ending (with or without commentary) – This is actually a wonderful addition to the DVD. Yep, I’m actually saying that the extended ending is a true bonus. It adds to the story, it extends the experience of the character, and it got me even more tantalized and excited about the next installment in this Russian Thriller Fantasy trilogy.
  • Trailers – Commercial, not extra.
  • Commentary By Timur Bekmambetov (Subtitled in English, Spanish and French) – I have a strange soft spot for that endearing but slightly noxious Russian sense of humor. Once you watch the movie you will want to know more and more about how and why they accomplished the stunning visual effects on the $4 million budget.
  • Commentary By Novelist Sergei Lukianenko (Subtitled in English, Spanish and French) – Honestly, I didn’t listen to this one, therefore I can only testify to you that it exists. Beyond that you will have to investigate for yourself.

The Movie: 8/10
Russians,  vampires, excellent special effects, amazing stunts, clever dialogue, all mixed into an epic trilogy telling a tale of the fate of the humanity. Fantastic.. End of review.

Oh, sorry, that was a bit on the brief side. I guess I can expand on a few of those tid bits, even though all I really need to say is that this is an exciting and stimulating beginning of what looks like it’s gonna be one more memorable epic told in the tri-fold style for all of us to ponder for years to come. Sadly it probably won’t reach the audience it should because of the language barrier, or the perceived language barrier I should say. I have heard people say they hate subtitles because they distract from the action. In this movie they have taken subtitling to a new level and made the experience of reading the dialogue integrated into the whole of the movie. Animated? It’s hard to describe. For example, there is an ominous voice calling someone from a distance, the words come on the screen in different places, bright red and then they dissolve in different ways. You can watch the movie with English dubbed over the top, but I personally think that’s distracting. At least we have a choice. I do think the subtitles make it a more interesting sensation (I’m out of words for experience:).

There’s more to this movie visually than the cool subtitles, really there is! The special effects are amazing. An owl becomes a naked woman. A vortex of evil opens up over a virgin. And just when you think your eyes can’t take any more, the editing is often manic, calculating, and takes control of the whole, um, movie event (yet another way of saying experience). You will feel like you are submerged in their world. That’s rare for me. I love movies dearly, but I often don’t get completely taken away because of one thing or another. Night Watch keeps my eyes, my mind, and my imagination happy from start to finish.

I have no idea who any of the performers are. I have no idea who the director is. I have no idea about the mythology behind the story. That’s part of the appeal for me. The less I know about a movie before I watch it, the more excited I get. The less you know about the actors the less you are distracted from other characters they have played, or that they are some big Hollywood star taking up more screen time than they should.

The tale isn’t totally original, but it’s got so many elements that are hypnotic and just plain fun to watch I can get past the borrowed bits and pieces. Seriously, I’m ready to watch it again, that’s now much I enjoyed this movie. It’s full of action, scene after scene, after scene, and it’s smart, clever even. It’s not patronizing like a lot of other action fantasy stories seem to be, and it doesn’t lead you along a straight like with every little detail explained for you. You watch, you pay attention, you think for yourself. I love that. There are moments when the music almost starts to give you and emotional tug here or there, but you are not trapped by it as with a lot of watered down crowd pleasers.

I highly recommend this movie no matter what your sensibility is about subtitles. You can watch the dubbed version, whatever, just give it a chance and see what the rest of the world has to offer. It’s worth it.

Value: 7/10
If you are looking for something new, something exciting to look at, simply something other than what our beloved American Cinema has offered for a while, Night Watch is an excellent deviation from the same old same old, and for a great price. There aren’t many extras, but the movie is absolutely enough to pay the $17-20 price tag. For a movie that has to make it’s way from Russia to the US and has the balls to belly up to our endless collection of blockbusters and big studio darlings, it’s worth a bit more than your average DVD that might have more extras, but not so much umphf in the film quality department.

Overall Score 8/10