Day Watch ***
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Written by Timur Bekmambetov, based on the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko
Konstantin Khabensky as Anton
Mariya Poroshina as Svetlana
Vladimir Menshov as Geser
Viktor Verzhbitsky as Zavulon
Galina Tyunina as Olga
Zhanna Friske as Alisa
Dmitry Martynov as Yegor
Valeri Zolotukhin as Kostya's Father
Aleksei Chadov as Kostya
132 Minutes(Rated R for violence).
The first weeks of the summer movie season have been all about sequels-big named hero's like "Spider-Man," fantasy creatures like "Shrek," and swashbuckling pirate adventures in. . . well, you can easily figure that one out. And then I was reading an article in the newspaper yesterday about how this was the first weekend without a sequel, and I can say that they were wrong. It seems like you cannot escape the sequels at the movies this summer, even on the limited release front. "Day Watch," the sequel to the most successful Russian film ever made "Night Watch,' is indeed a sequel, and a perfect continuation to the blast that I had watching the first film. And although it is Russian, and was made many many miles away, "Day Watch' holds the massive ideals of a Hollywood blockbuster and a sequel. This is probably why Fox Searchlight snatched the rights to all three films, as well as a hopeful American remake if the originals do well enough. There will also be a third film called "Dusk Watch' which will have a bigger budget because it is being funded especially by Fox, and will be filmed in the English language. But I can't really see how they could make a third film based on the ending here. While "Night Watch" had a strong cliffhanger at the end, "Day Watch" seems to have a strong conclusion, wrapping up the major story lines.
I'll start by saying that if you have never seen "Night Watch," "Day Watch' is not the place to start. Even though there is a short little back round information bit at the start of the film, this does not really allow any time to absorb what has happened in the first part unless you have seen it. I revisited "Night Watch" only a few days before I saw this film and I know that if I did not do that, I would have had an extremely difficult time following anything here. In a nutshell, there are two types of special people-light others and dark others. And there is a Sacred Truce, and a group to stop the Dark Others from inflicting problems on humans known as the Night Watch and then there is a group doing the opposite called the Day Watch. There is a man named Anton who is a member of the Night Watch, and whose son has become a Dark Other after learning of a curse Anton tried to put on his ex-wife. Now his son Yegor is known as the Great Dark Other, while Anton is training the Great Light Other, Svetlana. However if the Great Others ever meet the world could probably end, and there is a potential for war to start. Svetlana is actually in love with Anton, and Anton feels the same but finds himself pushing her away. Anton ends up getting framed for murder and is forced to switch bodies with Olga, another Light Other, to ensure that he is not caught or arrested.
It is hard to really describe a plot for "Day Watch," as such a large amount of things happen. It is a sequel in the truest Hollywood sense of the word. It is bigger and longer than the original, has more plot twists, some insane action sequences, and at its core a love story that is witty and fun to watch. And I did indeed have a blast watching this movie, as unstructured and messy as it is. Timur Bekmambetov's direction is extremely well crafted, and these films pay a certain respect to color that makes every shot stand out. The special effects are certainly not minimum here and some of them seem a little bit cartoonish, it was still effective regardless. I am not saying that these are perfect films, but they are very enjoyable to watch. They form this alternate world of their own which I have a great time seeing. I may have even enjoyed "Day Watch' a little more than "Night Watch," mainly because of the insane plot twists that seem to come up every minute during the third act.
Had it not been for the subtitles (which are as fun to watch in the second half as they were in the first, and you will understand what I mean when you see it. It is just clear that they actually put a little time into the subtitles instead of just slapping some white text onto the screen), and sticking to the Russian language, I could imagine the "Night Watch" series being something of value to American box offices. But Fox Searchlight has stuck this into the limited release bin, putting it out in a small amount of theatres even though it is clear that this does have an audience out there. Instead they decided to possibly do an English remake, and when that fell through they just wanted to fund for the third film themselves. I am truthfully a little worried about what is to come from the third half-not only does it seem to be a redundant and tacked out part to what seems like a finished story, but it is being funded all by an American studio. Even the actors are going to be learning English for their parts. It is something that I am a little uneasy about, but we will see what happens. "Day Watch" is a grand second half, and out of all the Hollywood sequels that have come out, it is certainly the most satisfying-and it was only released in about four theatres.