Friday, June 22, 2007

Day Watch (Dnevnoy dozor)

Day Watch picks up a year after the events of Night Watch. We are given a rushed narration to explain the events of the first film and the rather incomplete outline of this world. There are two opposing forces, armies of Light and Dark, who are known as the Others. Centuries ago they battled until an uneasy truce was made. Now these psychics, shape-shifters, and vampires live in a world trying to keep the necessary balance intact, though one man has decided it is time for war.

Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) and his new trainee Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) , who is destined to be the Great Other for the side of Light, encounter a Dark Other killing a human in public. Tracking him down Anton discovers it is his son Yegor (Dima Martynov) and prevents Svetlana from killing him. Anton then tries to hide the evidence of his son’s involvement which only puts himself in danger as the Dark Others accuse Anton of murder and the world tips on the edge of war.

The film contains large armies that don’t really do much. The vampires don’t eat people, there are no werewolves, and the shape-shifting we see is mostly disappointing. Also parts of the film aren’t well explained. What is “the gloom” and how does one enter and exit from it? Who are these judges to decide the fate of Anton? The Light Others can prove Anton did not kill the girl, but they refuse, why? And though the idea of the mysterious Chalk of Fate is intriguing, its existence is never properly dealt with.

In terms of an action film the movie has many stunts and special effects which come off quite well. The fact that it shot in Russia also adds something to the Gothic feel of the film. But the film is laughingly bad at trying to capture the seductive and erotic tones of vampire films. The audience was rolling their eyes and guffawing during these “intimate” moments.

As a horror film or a suspense film Day Watch fails on many levels. As an average summer popcorn action flick, with better than average acting, the film is a modest success. I don’t think anyone will be wowed by the action scenes or the special effects, though they are professionally done, or come away blown away from the experience. What Day Watch proves is that other countries can create convoluted big budget action films, that when you get right down to it don’t make a lot of sense, just as well as Hollywood can.

There’s a look and feel to the film which I enjoyed. And except for the moments of unintentional laughter the tone holds up well. If the world had been a little better fleshed-out and described to the audience it would have helped immensely. Still, with the issues I have with the film I am recommending it, though I would suggest renting the first film before trying to figure this one out. Although isn’t as good as I hoped, it does do a much better job with it’s material than similar recent American vampire films such as the forgettable Van Helsing and the supremely awful Underworld Evolution (read that review).

No comments: