June 02, 2007

Day Watch

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Reviewed by Martin Tsai

Based on popular sci-fi novelist Sergei Lukyanenko’s novel, Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch is one of the top-grossing blockbusters in Russia and certainly merited its U.S. release. The film only appropriates a third of the novel in order to make room for Hollywood-esque special effects, resulting in something like The Matrix meets Harry Potter. Basically, forces of good and evil have been duking it out for centuries, each with its own destined-for-greatness chosen one. While not causing damage here in non-virtual reality, warriors can enter an alternate universe by putting on Ray-Bans.

The first film is entertaining enough, but the inevitable sequel bares little resemblance to the novel Day Watch and instead chooses to delve into leftovers from the Night Watch novel. Bad move, as any diehard fan of Ringu would tell you. Bekmambetov’s new movie is basically two or three SFX set pieces with a load of borderline incoherent crap filling in the gaps. After driving his son Yegor (Dima Martynov) to the dark side in the first film, Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) finds himself torn between his evil offspring and virtuous love interest Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina). And coincidentally, Yegor and Svetlana are both chosen ones in training, and only one of them can live.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen all that Day Watch has to offer. While everything here is as impressive as any Hollywood blockbuster can offer, it’s just not enough to sustain a film that’s more than two hours long. While those who’ve seen Night Watch can still follow and try to make sense of the scant plot, uninitiated viewers will be completely lost. It’s unfathomable what Bekmambetov can possibly do for the third installment of his planned trilogy, which will be filmed in English and financed by 20th Century Fox. Oh well, in all fairness The Matrix Reloaded sucked and disappointed just as much as Day Watch, and people still went to see The Matrix Revolutions.

© Copyright 2007 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.