Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Night Watch

I finally saw Night Watch. I couldn't remember why I originally wanted to see it until I went back and read an old blog entry about it, but it turns out, it was everything I hoped for.

Dark? Check. Creepy? Check. Adventure-oriented? Check. Artistic? Double-check.

Everything about the movie is artfully done, even the sub-titles (it's a Russian movie). The sub-titles are actually part of the movie. They appear and disappear around the actors and change style depending on how they're used. If characters are using a computer while talking, the sub-titles take the appearance of text being added to a computer screen, complete with cursor. When a character screams in protest of something he sees happening, the English words "NO!" and "Stop!" literally fly out of him. When a vampire summons her victim from across the city, her whispered words appear in red and almost immediately dissipate, like blooddrops in water.

I mean, really, the movie's worth seeing just for the sub-titles. But it's also worth seeing for other reasons. It's very different from most movies that deal with vampires. In fact, it's not a horror movie at all. More of a fantasy. The vampires are just one of many supernatural creatures (called "Others") in the story. The plot revolves heavily around them, but it could have easily been another kind of creature. There are also witches, psychics, and were-creatures in the film, all choosing either the side of Good/Light (the Night Watch) or Evil/Darkness (the Day Watch).

What's cool is that people from opposite sides don't necessarily hate each other. They're less warriors than rivals. Light Others can live in peace in apartments across the hall from Dark Others, and the leaders of the two groups may not hang out together, but one can safely lounge in the office of the other without any apparent animosity.

Unfortunately, the rivalry is about to get more serious because a prophecy about a powerful, balance-upsetting Other seems to be coming true. That's the plot of Night Watch: each side trying to find this special Other and coerce him or her into joining their team. It's the first of a planned trilogy and it ends like one. Not like Star Wars, where you could really either stop or keep going without any difference. Like Fellowship of the Ring, where you have to keep going to see what's coming up next.
The critics were pretty divided about this movie, so your mileage may vary, but I found Night Watch to be a snazzy, fast-paced, visually beautiful, artistic, fun, exciting movie, and I'm definitely going to keep watching to see what happens.

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