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Night Watch
UKScreen Rating:

Night Watch – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

For as long as humanity has existed, so the legend goes, there’ve been beings – known as others – who’ve been fighting the causes of good and evil. A thousand years ago, the Light Others and the Dark Others called a truce.
But now, the fragile truce is at risk. A prophecy has foreseen the arrival of a powerful “other” whose choice between good and evil will shift the balance one way or the other.
Everything comes to a head when Anton – heartbroken when his wife leaves him for another man – asks a witch to kill-off their unborn child. The witch is arrested by the Light Others before her spell is complete.
But the damage is done. The incident sets in train a series of events which will change the future balance of good and evil, in the first of this Russian fantasy trilogy.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is unquestionably a visually interesting film – certainly not what you’d expect from Russia. It was the country’s most successful film last year, proudly boasting that it took more than all the big Hollywood blockbusters. But does it travel?
The basic premise of super-beings with good powers battling for supremacy against super-beings with evil powers, while humans continue about their lives oblivious of the war going on around them could have been taken straight out of the X-Men, except the superpowers aren’t as exciting – most of the baddies are vampires and the goodies largely just have premonitions.
There are two intertwined stories weaving their way through this film – one of them, concerning the all-powerful “other” of the prophecy – is powerful and effective – the other, concerning a cursed woman is an irritating mess.
In many respects, watching the film resembles watching someone playing a video game, but one area where it bristles with originality is its inventive use of the necessary subtitles. When the characters shout, the letters are bigger. On occasions, characters wipe their lines of dialogue off the screen with sweeping motions of their arms, and in one scene, as a child experiences a nose-bleed underwater, the translation of the voiceover – in red – dissipates like blood dissolving in the water.
As a one-off, it’s an interesting watch, although I’m not sure I could sit through a trilogy.

opens nationwide 7 October 2005

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