Day Watch

Day Watch

Film review by: Witney Seibold



            The setup is a little complicated, so be patient…


            A few people on this planet discover in moments of great supernatural stress (like when they’re involved in some sort of magical chicanery) that they are Others; they themselves have magical powers (shape-shifting, teleporting, etc.). Every newly indoctrinated Other must then choose to be a Light Other or a Dark Other (which doesn’t mean “good” or “evil” per se, although the Dark Others want to start a war). The Light and Dark Others have been at war for centuries, and, to avoid conflicts, have divided the day up between them. The Light can go at during the day, the Dark at night. In order to keep an eye on each other, though, each side has formed a Watch. The Night Watch are Light Others who walk at night, and the Day Watch are Dark Others who walk in the day.


            Oh, and all Others can step into an alternate dimension, called Gloom, for a few moments, but staying there too long screws them up a little bit.


            All of this, though, was outlined in the first film in director Timur Bekmambetov’s announced trilogy “Night Watch” (2004). The rules start to make a little sense as you watch this new follow-up “Day Watch,” but an overview of the overly-confusing (although visually creative) first film might be necessary to understanding all the ins and outs of “Day Watch.” That said, though, “Day Watch” is much, much clearer that “Night Watch,” the characters are more easily distinguishable, the motives are believable, and the rhythms much easier to take. Bekmambetov has only made five films to date, and seems to be getting better with each one (I recently leaned that he directed the Roger Corman-produced cheapie “The Arena” (a.k.a. “Gladiatrix,” a.k.a. “Gladiator 2”).


            What “Day Watch” adds: Night Watcher Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), our hero from the first film, has now been training his new charge Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) for a year, and they are both secretly in love with each other. Svetlana is not just a Night Watch trainee, though. She may be the next Great Other; an Other so powerful that they may be able to change the fate of the world or something. Meanwhile, the leader of Dark Others, Zavulon (Viktor Verzkbitsky) has been training Anton’s estranged tweener son Yegor (Dima Martynov) to be the Dark’s very own Great Other. Legend says of ever the two Great Others should meet, the world will end or something. It’s never really said how. Zavulon has also been sending out his comely Day Watch officer (Zhanna Friske) to frame Anton for a crime that could lead to a breaking of the Light/Dark truce, and, to put him undercover, Anton is forced to briefly switch bodies with Light secretary Olga (Galina Tyunina) leading to a beautiful second act complication with he and his would-be ladylove.


            Oh, and the cherry on top of it all is a magical piece of chalk that can grant wishes.


            Whereas “Night Watch” was edited like a music video, and seemed proud of its all-too-complicated plot, “Day Watch” seems to have a more definite thrust. Bekmambetov finally knows where he wants things to end up, and finally takes us there. The film’s visual scheme, while still busily incorporating bits and pieces of moving background, and frenetic English subtitles that smear, fade, sand stick to the scenery from time to time, still feels solid. “Night Watch” keeps you on shaky ground. “Day Watch” lets you enjoy the story with sturdy footing.

             There is a proposed third chapter in the Watch films, called “Dusk Watch,” but a third chapter doesn’t seem possible, for (and I don’t want to give away too much) everything from the first two films has now been solved and undone. Well, if the level of creativity and filmmaking skill continues to increase, I look forward to the new spin the series will get.

Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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