day watch | night watch | timur bekmambetov | sergey lukyanenko | alexander talai | konstantin khabenskiy | mariya poroshina | vladimir menshov | based on | novel | vladimir vasiliev | action | fantasy | thriller | monster | creature | russia | vampire | vampires | witch
Film: Day Watch (Dnevnoy dozor)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Timur Bekmambetov, Sergey Lukyanenko and Alexander Talal
Starring: Konstantin Khabenskiy, Mariya Poroshina and Vladimir Menshov
Now this was the movie that I almost watched ahead of the original. I feel like I knew it was a sequel when I first read about it in The Horror Show Guide encyclopedia that I’m working through, but it has been awhile since then. I made sure to watch Night Watch first to avoid confusion.
Synopsis: a man who serves in the war between the forces of Light and Dark comes into possession of a device that can restore life to Moscow, which was nearly destroyed by an apocalyptic event.
This synopsis is a bit off and I’ll explain why. What this movie does well is starts out giving more backstory and lore. It catches us up on the premise from the first one about this war between light and dark supernatural creatures. On both sides you have things like vampires, witches, shapeshifters and other supernatural creatures. There is more though with this character of Voin Tamerlana (Gani Kulzhanov).
We are given this as mythology. He was the leader of a great army and attacked this temple where the Chalk of Fate is kept. He has a map and discovers a way in. We then see him as he obtains this legendary item and what he is able to do with it. Things pull back to have Anton (Konstantin Khabenskiy) and Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) in a vehicle together. The latter is a trainee with the Night Watch. We will learn that she has a crush on Anton and he feels the same. Being together is forbidden though. The best way to describe it is that he is her boss and they work together.
As the synopsis said, the war between the Night and Day Watch is raging. Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitskiy) has the upper hand now that Anton’s son Yegor (Dmitriy Martynov) has joined Day Watch. This boy is the chosen one. What I didn’t pick up on from the original movie is that Svetlana is also the chosen one which balances out since she works with Night Watch. Zavulon needs them to come together, as this will be the deciding event. His plan is to frame Anton to do so.
Geser (Vladimir Menshov) is the leader of the Night Watch and he knows what his counterpart is doing. With the help of Olga (Galina Tyunina), they try to prove that Anton is innocence. He won’t sit idly by either. He searches for the Chalk of Fate to help. The problem is that this artifact works in mysterious ways and Anton feels guilty about his choices with Yegor. There are supernatural elements around them that are influencing things even more.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction. I think that gives you enough to information to get the gist of what we are getting here without going too deep and potentially into spoilers. I’ll be honest, I think that this works better than the previous. My gripe there was I feel there is too much story that is missing. This one builds off what they did there. It gives you what you need and more lore gets introduced. I had a buddy of mine who watched both Night Watch and this. He said about how he wants them to make the third to complete it. What is interesting is how well financially the first did. This one I feel is a better movie so I’m curious as to the reason why it ends here. There must be three novels. I think this one ends in a place where it could stop, but options are left open.
With that established, let me delve into this one. I’ll start where the movie does. I love this new lore introduced. It is simple and to the point. What is interesting is that it feels like stories that we all grew up with. This isn’t one that I know, but it made sense as I’m watching it. Having this Chalk of Fate is intriguing with the implications. It isn’t something that is overpowered. You can’t just rewrite history with it. What it can do is allow you make a change in a decision made. That’s not to say that what you try to change doesn’t just happen again. How it factors into the movie was interesting to how things end for sure.
If you read my review of Night Watch, then you know that it feels like Underworld borrowed elements. I cannot confirm or deny that is the case though since we’ve been seeing supernatural creatures pitted against each other since the early days of the movie industry. I like that we can these beings on either side. There can be good or bad vampires. This goes for all the ‘monsters’. What I also like about this is that they’re lives can be made almost mundane. They have normal jobs and need to file specific paperwork. That is a fun touch that works for me. Makes me think of things like Beetlejuice or A Ghost Waits.
Then the last bit here is something that I don’t fully remember from the previous movie. I know that Yegor is the chosen one. What I didn’t realize was that Svetlana is also considered to be chosen. My interpretation was that they were wrong about Svetlana and it was the boy. This sets the record straight. It makes it feel more like Star Wars now that we have these two entities. If they join the same side, it all but ends the war. We know they’re destined to be pitted against each other though. It does seem that Yegor is stronger or just has more rage within him. This prophecy idea could have been fully established in Night Watch and I missed it. Regardless, I think this does better in fleshing it out.
That should be enough for the story so I’ll go to the acting. I think that Khabenskiy is solid as this broken character. He seems like a guy who life has runover and it shows. That guilt he harbors is good and it explains why he does things that he does. There also seems like he has a bit of a death wish there. Poroshina is also good in her role. I like that she’s now part of the Night Watch since she as alerted to the existence of others. Menshov and Verzhbitskiy are good as the counters to each other. Tyunina is a new character that worked along with Zhanna Friske, Valeriy Zolotukhin, Aleksey Chadov and Nurzhuman Ikhtymbaev. I’ll also give credit to Martynov and the rest of the cast as well. No one is great, but they work for what is needed.
The last things then would be with the filmmaking. Since this is an action movie at the heart of it, I’ll start with the cinematography. I think this is shot well. It does different things to show us that certain characters like Svetlana can go to a different plane. I think that is an interesting touch. The effects there are also solid. I’d say that we get practical ones and a combination of CGI with it. The latter is fine at times while others not so much. That is one of my biggest gripes. Thankfully this one doesn’t lean into it as much. The only other thing would be the soundtrack which was fine.
In conclusion, I’m glad that I watched this one. I’m also happy that I watched these in order. I’d say that this one worked better for me. The lore was established and then we built on it. I like the incorporation of this new folktale that might be true. The concept here is interesting. We are getting an action movie with horror elements so keep that in mind. I do think this is made well enough with the biggest gripe being with the CGI just not holding up as well. That doesn’t ruin it though, at least I didn’t think so. I’d say that if you’re into movies like this, give it a go. I did have to watch this one dubbed, but I’m guessing there is a Russian language version out there as well.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10