Monday, May 10, 2010

A to Z Blogathon: D is for Day Watch (Revisited)

You probably don't remember this, but a few years ago I took a look at a poorly subtitled, import* version of the movie Day Watch. At the time, I was greatly perturbed by the poor subtitles, and found the idea of the Chalk of Destiny to be at least a little silly. However, I feel that I've grown since then, and have also bought the official US DVD of the movie. It's one that I've been wanting to revisit for some time. I recently re-watched Day Watch's predecessor, Night Watch, and also the book upon which the two movies are based (also called Night Watch). On top of all that, I never really felt that my original review** of Day Watch really did the movie justice***.

So, since it was a movie I was looking to revisit right about now anyways, it seemed to me that it would be the perfect contribution to 1416 and Counting's A to Z Blogathon. In more ways than one, really. For one thing, if you read 1416 and Counting, you'll quickly realize that the blog's author, Caitlin, seems to have a thing for all things Russian. On top of that, Day Watch star Konstantin Khabenskiy is 1416 and Counting's Hot Old Man for the month of May. It really does seem as someone used the Chalk of Destiny**** to make sure I stopped playing Puzzle Quest for a while and wrote about this movie sooner, rather than later.

Day Watch picks up about a year after the end of Night Watch.That's not entirely true. The movie starts by telling the story of Tamerlane and his retrieval of the Chalk of Fate*****. You see, using this magic chalk, you can rewrite history, as well as doodle some sweet shit on the sidewalk. That's not important at the moment. What is important is that Anton is training Svetlana to be part of the Night Watch******. They show up to investigate a crime that it turns out was committed by Yegor, Anton's son. Anton tries to cover this up and gets framed for a murder as thanks. So, he and Olga switch bodies and...and, the more I think about's very difficult to sum this movie up in just a handful of words. Especially if I'm going to be choosing words that make sense. There's a lot going on, and not a ton of explanation.

I'm going to be brutally honest here. You don't have to read Night Watch for this movie to make sense, but it helps. There are a lot of things that the movie expects you to just kind of 'get'. It expects that you've seen Night Watch and read the book and already have an idea of what's going on and who everyone is and what their place in this world is and...that's probably a bad thing. While the story is interesting, and the movie itself is captivating, I could see many people getting lost pretty easily with it. And, I think that the fault for that falls squarely on Timur Bekmambetov.

I will say, what I like about Timur Bekmambetov and his films (Day Watch, Night Watch and Wanted)...the guy knows how to create interesting action sequences. There's always something you haven't really seen before, or at the very least, something you've seen but now with a bit of a new twist on it.That might be a bit of a fault as well though. So much effort is put into these exciting and unique action sequences that the stories themselves tend to be weak.

All in all, I liked Day Watch. If you've seen Night Watch it's worth seeing as a continuation of the story. In itself, there isn't much setup to make a third movie, so this is probably all you'll ever get as far as the movie adventures of Anton Gorodetsky. Which is too bad as Anton is an interesting character and Khabenskiy does an excellent job of playing him. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the character now. Even in the book, I picture Khabenskiy. In fact, if someone else HAD played Anton, I don't think either film would have been as good.

**I hate calling what I do 'reviews' sometimes. I feel that it gives reviews a bad name in general.
***That was a joke. I know you're sitting there thinking "I couldn't tell. Usually jokes are funny"******. What can I say, I like to defy expectations that way********.
****This one won't either.
*****The name of the Chalk is slightly different in this translation.
******The movie assumes you've seen Night Watch, so I will, too.
*******Fuck you*********.
********My favorite joke is 'Two guys walk into a bar. The third guy ducks.' It's admittedly not funny at all, but I love it all the same.
*********Yes, I'm adding footnotes to the footnotes. I'm recursive like that.*********
**********I hope I got all my asterisks in the right places.