Day Watch [Дневной дозор (Dnevnoy dozor)] (2006)
Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, Dmitriy Martynov, Aleksei Chadov, Zhanna Friske
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Expectations: Low, based on my reaction to the first in the series.
Night Watch ended with some serious potential for this movie to be awesome. A fateful decision had been made and supposedly nothing will be the same. The balance has shifted and all that. The resulting film of Day Watch delivers on almost none of that promise though, instead providing you with lots of nonsensical scenes, a weird pseudo lighthearted mood and even worse pacing than the first.
This film is also based on the 1998 Sergei Lukyanenko novel entitled Night Watch, not its sequel novel Day Watch as you might think. The novel is broken into three parts, with the filmed Night Watch taking on part one, and the filmed Day Watch taking on parts two and three. The problem with combining the parts is that it seems like they were written to be companion pieces, working together in a large sense but not in a strict plot-point-to-plot-point sense. So combining them results in a more confusing film than the first. I was on-board for the first 20 minutes or so thinking that with the first film out of the way I would at least have a basic understanding built in for the sequel. That theory panned out for a short while before they starting jerking the wheel around and losing me again.
The score is very similar to the score for Night Watch, except for the addition of the lighthearted romantic comedy music. Why the choice was made to go with this type of music, I’ll never know, but I do know that it was a poor choice. Another thing that bugged me, the music for almost every action scene in both films is the same driving, techno song. I know these films were produced on a modest budget but one or two more cheap techno songs would have gone a long way to make this a better film.
This film also suffers from the same overuse of close-ups, handheld camerawork and fast editing that plagued Night Watch. There’s also some good visuals contained here, like the scene when a bus crashes into one of the Dark Others, but the pacing is so bad that most people probably won’t make it that far. Night Watch was a huge success in its native country, quickly becoming the number one box office film ever, surpassing even Western releases. This must have gone to Bekmambetov’s head because this film is a good 30 minutes longer than the first, resulting in an overlong, over-bloated boring action picture that completely fails to deliver on the promise laid out by the closing moments of its predecessor.
This film’s main plot circles around a mystical piece of chalk that has the power to undo actions that you have set into motion. It’s an interesting idea, but what ultimately happens with it negates almost the entire running time of both films and you are left with a serious case of What the Fuck blues. If only the chalk was real Bekmambetov could have used it to go back and make a better film.
Don’t forget, it takes two to Djan-go! A Fistful of Djangos, our look at eight classic spaghetti westerns starts two days from now, on Monday July 5th! Be there!
I actually dug this film a lot. The visuals, story and character development were really great and I found the core idea of the film compelling. Plus, I think this film hit’s every beat perfectly. The comedy, the drama and the action are all superb.
I know I’m in the minority on this, but I think Day Watch is a great film.
Wow really? Under all my confusion it seemed like there was something here to like, but I think it would have been so much better if they had focused more on the storytelling. I didn’t know what anyone’s motives were. I was really frustrated that after the end of the first one, nothing really changed here, stakes were not raised and there wasn’t enough payoff after all the buildup of the Great Other choosing a side. The end when the chalk is used was frustrating as well because I felt that that ending could have been powerful, had the storytelling in the film justified it, but the way it’s done seems like they wrote themselves into a wall and had to Deus Ex Machina it. I’m glad you liked it though, I always find it interesting to hear the other side.
That bus hitting the guy looked pretty damn good though, I have to give them that. Thanks for coming by and commenting!
Didn’t the Russians submit one of these Day Watch or Night Watch as their official selection for the Oscars a few years back? hahaha — shows the level of Russian film at the moment…
I don’t remember but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had. They were big deals when they came out, I believe they are the first big-budget Russian fantasy films ever. Too bad they aren’t that great. I am intrigued to read the book though, I’d probably like it better.