Friday, October 29, 2004

The Night Watch


Here is the Russian sci-fi thriller based on the book of the same name, and this years entry into the Foreign Film Oscar nomination race. It is usually cause for worry when a film begins with multiple prologues and this film has two of them. The first begins with a mythic battle between good and evil armies in the centre of a narrow bridge that immediately conjures up comparisons to the big army shots in Lord of the Rings. The second is thousands of years later when a schlub of a man goes to a fortune teller and finds out that his wife will leave him for another man because she is pregnant by her. The very helpful fortune teller offers to kill the fetus in the mother for an extra fee and one other condition...that the man will take responsibility for his actions in the afterlife. Weirdness ensues as we get a peek behind the supernatural curtain. Flash forward 12 years and the story of Mages, Vampires and Shapeshifters in some major Russian Urban centre battling it out before a prophecy is fulfilled. It's somewhere between Underworld (crap that that film was...) and The Highlander (a genre classic) but with a lot more gore than either.
Add this to the release of France's Immortel, China's Zu Warriors and you are beginning to get the sense that the rest of the world wants to make big explosive genre pics like Hollywood has been turning out since Star Wars. I don't know if this is a good thing, but Nightwatch has such a twisted and organic sensibility. It is squishy, bloody and twisted like a good Cronenberg film, but without the subtext.
This is pretty straight-up plot driven story telling, and it occupies with its visual candy, for its 2 hour run time. Then you find out that there is a cliff-hanger ending and two more chapters to come (again, comparisons to Lord of the Rings). Would I recommend this movie? Well it's too obtuse and exposition free for any non-genre fans to make any sense of. I'm still undecided on whether or not this is a good thing. Let's just say you are just thrown into the mix thinking: "I would probably have understood this better if I had read the book."

1 Comments:

Anonymous Richard Lowe said...

The plot is very difficult to follow in places due to the messy narrative structure. With the benefit of a second viewing, I didn't have to expend my limited brain-power on trying to understand the plot, and was able to fully appreciate this visually stunning film. Although confusing in places (particularly parts of the final act), this film is very rewarding. It certainly whets the appetite for the second and third films - "Day Watch" and "Dusk Watch". Genre fans will be in vampire heaven!

8:23 AM  

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