Night Watch (2004)
Reviewed on 2006 August 21
We all get the shivers — good or bad — from certain movie previews. Ever have a gut feeling about a movie just from the poster?
I first saw a poster for Night Watch while I was waiting to get into Cinderella Man. The surreal artwork told me nothing about it, except it would be imaginative. That was enough. I wanted to see it. Now. And it was a…oh no… foreign film! This usually means if you blink, you won’t get to see it at the local theater in my county.
Nine months later, Fox finally threw us Chicago Suburbanites a bone. Night Watch opened at a smaller screen in a googleplex about an hour away from me. I was glad I talked my husband into seeing this. After it started, so was he.
It’s really not easy to pigeonhole this thing, but I think “Russian Fairy Tale on acid” will do. The forces of good, the Night Watch, form an uneasy agreement with the forces of evil, or Day Watch. An epic battle between the two sides at the beginning of the film results in the agreement to just keep each other in check rather than trying to annihilate each other. Beings born with special abilities just pick a side and are registered like voters. Vampires, witches, shape shifters — no stereotypes here — all can be found playing for either team. The shaky truce between the two sides gets blown out of the water when a member of the Night Watch has to protect both a young boy and a woman under an ancient curse. It’s very simple but it’s done with a lot of energy and imagination. Even the subtitles do cool things! At points the plot cheerfully goes off on tangents (and sines and cosines) but everything does come together for the end of the first film. My only gripe is that the sequel, Day Watch, isn't here yet.
Some purists got their noses out of joint because they expected a horror movie. To a degree I expected this too. But if you get served an amazing tira misu instead of the key lime pie you expected, are you really going to complain?
Three morsels and a shot of vodka!