Day Watch, the sequel to the popular Russian action-horror film Night Watch, arrived in my mailbox with high expectations awaiting it - expectations that weren't met. It's not that Day Watch doesn't have some spectacular special effects that defy everything you expect from a foreign film; it's just that the movie is so weird and relatively plotless that it just doesn't live up to the original.
The movie begins with the Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) driving through the streets of Moscow with a rookie and love interest Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) when they get notified that a member of the Dark vampires (they being of the Light) is sucking blood from humans. They race to the scene of the crime and pursue the assailant, but to Anton's horror Svetlana defies his cries for restraint and moves to the next dimension, a place he doesn't have the power to go. He is barely able to bring her back, but this sets in motion a battle of good versus evil. And what are they fighting over? An object of extraordinary power that can bring balance to humanity or destroy it. And what object is it? A piece of chalk. Yes, a piece of chalk.
Director Timur Bekmambetov certainly has a knack for style and the ability to make Matrix-level special effects out of a non-existent budget. Listen up, Hollywood. I thought Hellboy did a lot with a little, but Day Watch has some of the coolest visuals of the year on a budget of $4.2 million. Why, oh why, do movies like Beowulf and countless others cost $150 million and up? It doesn't make any sense. Anyway, removing myself from my rant, Bekmambetov is definitely an incredible director, at least from a visual perspective. Day Watch looks as good as any Hollywood production. The special effects are great (though not as good as in Night Watch) and overall, the production values are seamless.
Unfortunately, something is clearly in lost in translation, as most of Day Watch doesn't make any sense. Night Watch was a bit confusing and weird, but Day Watch plays like a surrealist drug trip. Basically, I didn't like the movie. Day Watch is utterly weird and actually quite boring. While there are some good action sequences - and a good destruction sequence at the end - Bekmambetov doesn't maintain the suspense, and instead opts for weirder, deeper crap. How the movie ends is just a real letdown, as after waiting for two hours for something to really happen, you expect a lot more than what Day Watch delivers.
Also, was Night Watch as campy as Day Watch is? I remember it being pretty serious and slick, but Day Watch is full of intentionally cheesy moments that sap any excitement from the film. The camp is just a bit too unbearable at times, and you really have to wonder what Bekmambetov was thinking.
Day Watch looks great, but lacks the excitement factor Night Watch had. Ultimately, Day Watch is a campy, boring version of The Matrix. Oh, with vampires.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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