By January 8, 2007

Sleep on the Night Watch

Lady Jaye and I had a chance to finish The Night Watch: Nochnoy Dozor yesterday. I was pumped to see it after reading and hearing about how good this vampire-ish movie was. We started watching it over a week ago, but in typical Netflix fashion the disc was defective. The movie jumped forward ten minutes at a critical plot point. We wish it had jumped us all the way to the end.

Here’s the ten second plot summary: there are people called Others who have supernatural abilities. Their abilities come about during times of stress or danger. Newly emerged Others can either choose the path of Light or the path of Darkness. Long ago a stalemate battle was fought between the forces of good and evil, and thus The Truce was formed. The forces of Light patrolling the evening (the Night Watch), and the forces of Darkness patrolling the daytime (the Day Watch). Legend has it — as legend always does — that one day an Other will emerge that will tip the balance between Dark and Light.

The movie is Russian; we were advised by The Proto-Lawyer™ to watch it with subtitles because the dubbing was awful. She was right. We watched the first part of the movie in English and winced at the odd timing, translation, and voice acting. After getting our replacement disc from Netflix (which was also defective) we watched the movie in Russian, with English subtitles. We weren’t distracted by the mechanics of the movie this time, and were able to confirm our original feelings about the movie: it sucked.

The timing in The Night Watch is very slow and the story tries to be character driven, instead of event driven. A counterpoint vampire movie would be Underworld, which is mostly action with some character sketches thrown in for filler. A character-driven movie can be great, I’m not complaining about that. The problem with The Night Watch is that it fails to generate any sympathetic characters or even partially develop the backgrounds for anyone besides the main character. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing, as this is the first Russian movie I’ve endured. Perhaps the pacing of The Night Watch is common for Russian films. It was just frustrating to watch a character-driven movie that didn’t have any character development.

I try not to tell my friends if I like a movie or not, but give them a sliding scale on when they should see it:

  • Pay full price at the theater.
  • See the matinee.
  • Rent it.
  • TiVo it.
  • Don’t see it. Don’t even let your worst enemy see it.

You’re probably not going to be able to catch The Night Watch in the theater, so the scale is a bit short today.

Unless you are knee deep in Vampire: The Masquerade sourcebooks and have six different shades of black nailpolish, pass on The Night Watch.

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3 Comments on "Sleep on the Night Watch"

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  1. Ed says:

    The accountant agrees.

  2. Proto-Lawyer (TM) says:

    It’s pretty cutting-edge and fast-paced compared to most –scratch that, *all*– Russian films I’ve seen. Guess that’s why I liked it. Ya’ll are weighing the poor thing against the standards of a cinema that brought the world LOTR. 😉

  3. Ed says:

    Hmm, she is probably right.