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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.46%
Worth A Look: 22.97%
Average: 27.03%
Pretty Bad28.38%
Total Crap: 12.16%

8 reviews, 26 user ratings

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Night Watch
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by EricDSnider

"The Russians = crazy blood-sucking mofos"
4 stars

The Others walk among us, you know. People who seem like you or me but who are actually wizards, shapeshifters, sorcerers and other types of supernatural beings. There are Light Others and Dark Others, categorized not by skin tone but by degree of evilness, with each group keeping watch over the other to make sure they don't use undue influence over the mortals whose world they inhabit.

This is big, meaty fantasy mythology, energetically splashed onto the screen in "Night Watch" ("Nochnoi Dozor"), one of the most Hollywoodized Russian films I've ever seen. There are no dreary Siberian wastelands in Timur Bekmambetov's vision, no stilted, depressed dialogue. "Night Watch" pops with visual momentum, so much that by the end it's chaotic, and finally just insane. Even the subtitles get into the action, moving with the characters or being wiped off the screen as someone walks in front of them.

All of this is in the service of a story that begins well but ultimately becomes confusing and inexplicable. When it's hoppin', though, it's really hoppin'.

Based on a novel by Sergei Lukyanenko and adapted by Bekmambetov and Laeta Kalogridis, "Night Watch" begins in 1992 with a man named Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) discovering that he is an Other, with the specific abilities of a seer. Armed with this new knowledge of his powers, he joins the Night Watch, the group of Light Others who keep an eye on the Dark ones (who operate at night, of course), enforcing the laws of the two groups' centuries-old truce. Now, in the present, he's called upon to protect a young boy named Yegor (Dmitri Martynov), who is being summoned telepathically by a vampire.

Yes, there are vampires involved. Apparently, many (or perhaps all) of the Others, both Light and Dark, are vampires. The good ones refrain from drinking human blood, and the bad ones are supposed to do the same, but you know how it is with rogue nations.

Anyway, the boy plays a part in the grand scheme of things, with all the Others awaiting fulfillment of a prophecy in which a Great Other will come and choose between good and evil once and for all. Meanwhile, a tornado is heading for Moscow, and it's somehow related to all this. Also, there's a woman who is sometimes an owl.

Somewhere in all of this are several fairly deep ideas, including an elaborate anti-abortion message, no kidding. So what does it all mean when you put it together? Heaven only knows. But with resemblances to "X-Men," "Blade" and a host of other action-packed American stories, "Night Watch" -- with its jaunty attitude and sly sense of humor -- feels familiar enough overall to make me overlook the incomprehensible parts.

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originally posted: 04/08/06 14:07:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell solid horror fantasy film plots a bit messy though 4 stars
5/15/10 Alex Thorne calling this Russia's version of The Matrix is unjustified. Night Watch is Much Better! 5 stars
4/12/10 mr.mike It was mildly diverting. 3 stars
11/22/07 fools♫gold Curse me for not thinking of a quote! I won't forget my watch of this. 5 stars
8/02/07 TigerSlap Erik Childress is a pseudo-intellectual A-hole - this movie is good! 5 stars
10/25/06 Marc I will never get those 2 hours back 2 stars
8/11/06 Dominick AWESOME MOVE.. don't listen to this Erik asshole 5 stars
6/13/06 Michael Good review, but the movies was overblown. 2 stars
3/28/06 Danny Johanson This movie was absolutely excellent and visually stunning. 5 stars
3/06/06 Mushuga See the Russian version!!!! Because...well...that one sucks, too. 1 stars
3/06/06 Butterbean Appears to be setting us up for a better sequel. Please stop shaking cameras for "action". 3 stars
3/03/06 Roger Warner I was entertained. 4 stars
3/03/06 Mungface From the ads and the advanced hype, I didn't expect something so bland. 3 stars
3/01/06 Darren Shea Visuallly inventive, but hampered by a confusing plot. 3 stars
2/28/06 Ole Man Bourbon A very boring combination of Matrix: Revolutions and Dr. Quinn, Medecine Woman. Awful. 1 stars
2/28/06 Joshua Keep in mind its for russian, not western audiences. Starts solid then gets very silly. 3 stars
2/25/06 Bitchum Not really a whole lot there. A barrage of effects and a jumble glitz pile of a story. 3 stars
2/21/06 dredphul Interesting visuals, the story is messy and incomprehensible at times 4 stars
2/21/06 Leia Meh...didn't do a whole lot for me. Not awful, but...a little nuts with the FX. 3 stars
2/19/06 Galliwertz Had some good stuff, indeed, but not enough of it...and the ending sucked. 3 stars
11/23/05 Nadia the best movie to come out of russia 5 stars
10/26/05 Minista The Wickedist 5 stars
10/23/05 Vladimir First real Russian intervantion into Holywood soil 4 stars
10/19/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME, It's 'Highlander', 'Constantine' & 'The Matrix' mixed in with VODKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
10/17/05 M visually perfect.....not much else. 2 stars
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  17-Feb-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006



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