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Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Nightwatch" review

Nightwatch (2004)

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Writing credits Laeta Kalogridis

Konstantin Khabensky.... Anton Gorodetsky
Vladimir Menshov.... Gesser
Valeri Zolotukhin.... Vampire, Kostya's father
Mariya Poroshina.... Svetlana
Galina Tyunina.... Olga, sorceress (owl)

I caught “Nightwatch” at the Nuart theater in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to check out the theater and a Russian sci-fi vampire flick sounded like just the right movie. The Nuart is a cool little theater by the 405. I had to park a couple of blocks away as I couldn’t find any parking to save my life. If you want to see a movie there, you’re going to have to work for it.

If you read anything about “Nightwatch”, (like this review), one of the first things that’ll be shoved down your throat is that it’s the most profitable Russian movie ever made. Not only that, but it made more money in Russia than the Lord of the Rings movies! Wow! Millions of Russians paid to see this movie! They chose this over another Hollywood blockbuster! Shocking!

Actually, it isn’t. This is what is known as a hustle. Oh, I believe that it’s the most profitable movie ever made in Russia. But did anyone stop to think that maybe the reason they paid to see this was because they were so proud that it was a Russian made, Hollywood-type movie and not because it was actually as cool as you think? Hey, if I was Russian, I’d be proud too that somebody from my country could make a decent sci-fi flick. It would almost be a patriotic move just to go out and support it.

But I’m not Russian. I’m just a guy looking for another good movie to watch. “Nightwatch” has some undeniably cool moments but it’s not as bad-ass as it wants you to believe, (“Millions of Russians loved it! You will too!”). Yeah whatever.

“Nightwatch” is about the Others. The Others are among us. They are supernatural beings, (shape-shifters, sorcerers, vampires), who are either the Dark or the Light. They can be on the Nightwatch, (Good Others watching Bad) or Daywatch, (Bad Others watching Good).

There’s enough mythology here to stuff into three movies. I could go on and on, (like the movie does), about all of the various rules and legends that saturate this world. Basically the movie concentrates on one guy who’s on the Nightwatch. He wants to protect a kid who is being called over by the Daywatch. This leads to the coolest scene in the movie when the two Light and Dark vampires have a fight in a warehouse. This scene was great and filled me with high hopes for the rest of the movie.

Unfortunately, “Nightwatch” let me down. That one fight scene is the last one until the very end. The rest of the movie spins off into various subplots that all wind their way back to a cursed virgin girl, a shape-shifting owl babe, a Dark pop star, and so much more Light/Dark gobbledygook that your head will spin.

“Nightwatch” has some interesting moments but not enough for me to go crazy for it. It needed a little more action to move the story along. One or two more fight scenes would have saved it for me. If I heard one more guy spout off about prophecy/doomsday/ the apocalypse, I was going to leave the theater. But if you’re looking for a sci-fi flick that’s just a little different, you might get into it.

Hey, millions of Russians loved it. Did you know that? How can you argue with that logic? You know what they say in the Russian film industry? Rubles rule baby!

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 for various cool scenes like a bloody Nightwatch guy with an owl. You wouldn't see that kind of action in a Hollywood movie now would you?

1 comment:

Proginoskes said...

I just watched this one and I get the feeling that Dr. Gore was more pissed off about the hype that the Russians gave this one than the movie itself. Patriotism is a fine thing but a bit out of place when critiqueing an artistic endeavour. I for one had NEVER heard thing one about this film before I watched it. Perhaps that helped me to enjoy it more. Thousands of Russians loving it had NOTHING to do with my liking or disliking this film. Of course, Dr. Gore liking or disliking the film didn't affect my opinion either. Quite frankly, vampire flicks have been a dead genre (no pun intended) for me for quite some time now. I am sick of the whole vampires as goth movement in this country. As a commercial illustrator and fine artist with photographic background, this one appealed to me from and artistic aspect as well as a new take on the whole vampire story. Perhaps Dr. Gore might be better off with the Underworld series which left me cold. Even Kate Beckinsale couldn't save it, try as she mighht. Action over substance...well, if that's your thing. I have nothing against action, love it, in fact, but the idea that the only thing that kept D.G. from liking it was a perceived lack of action on the part of the reviewer seemed a bit shallow. I for one liked this movie a lot and will be buying a copy.