There has been an overwhelming amount of chatter in regards to the Russian Night Watch trilogy, and now that I have seen the first installment I can say the next two may be really good, but this one has quite the slow build-up, the only thing I can think to compare it to is perhaps an opening installment of a television mini-series as it does nothing but set-up the story for things to come.
Night Watch is Star Wars without the sci-fi, replaced by vampires, sorcerers and the like… Basically you have the Light Side and the Dark Side and the battle between the two. The film opens with an overwhelming amount of narration to get you up-to-speed as a medieval battle is played out in the background. What ultimately results of the battle is a truce between the forces of light and darkness. This truce is monitored by a group of “Others” known as the Night Watch. Their goal is to patrol and protect whoever may be in danger due to the misdeeds of either side.
Where the film becomes tricky, and even more Star Wars like, is in the prophecy at the center of the entire story. You see, there is this prophecy that a powerful “Other” will be born and will be tempted by one of the sides, and the choice of sides this one person makes will renew the war between the two sides. Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Star Wars centered around a prophecy of a similar nature? I guess you could say that in Star Wars the prophecy was centered on bringing balance rather than chaos, but close enough. Then again, once you get to the end of this film I have a feeling you will be agreeing with me on how Star Wars-y this film really is.
All of this is not to say that the film is bad, but it isn’t exactly knock your socks of stellar. The story is there, I just wish they had condensed this first installment into about 15 minutes of back story and gotten to the good part that the ending of this film promises. The way the film leaves off just felt like some TV series season finale to where the entire episode didn’t tell you much or entirely intrigue until the final five minutes, and just when it gets interesting… roll credits.
One thing to take note with this film is that it definitely has a sense of humor as there are a fair amount of jokes cracked and even some comical situations such as the jet propelled utility truck the Night Watch storms around Moscow in. It is definitely a bit outlandish.
Overall I would say seeing this film in the theater or waiting to rent it is a toss-up. One thing to consider is that the second film, Day Watch, may be in theaters before the Night Watch DVD actually streets. Yeah, the chances are slim with these three month turnaround times, but it is one thing to think of. The film itself is rated-R, and even though there are some vampires and such I would say the R-rating is primarily due to the violent opening sequence because beyond that this one is a whole hell of a lot of talking.
Would I see it again? On DVD? Definitely! I am also going to be anxiously awaiting part two as I feel I have paid my penance and there is going to be some kind of worthwhile reward for watching Night Watch.