Mark Reviews Movies


3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Cast: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Dmitry Martynov, Zhanna Friske, Valeri Zolotukhin, Aleksei Chadov

MPAA Rating: R (for violence)

Running Time: 2:12

Release Date: 6/1/07 (limited); 6/15/07 (wider)

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Review by Mark Dujsik

More goofy, intriguing weirdness continues with Day Watch, the second part of the cinematic adaptation of Sergei Lukyanenko's modern Russian fantasy trilogy. Underneath all its silliness, Night Watch, the first installment, did at least have an intriguing conceit that the good guys (the Light Others) might not be as good as we'd think, but one had to dig under a lot of silliness to get to that. This next part, though, forgoes the morality and just goes for balls-to-the-wall ludicrousness. The first movie had shape-shifters; this one has a man and woman changes bodies then proceeds to have the man in the woman's body seduces another woman. The first movie had vampires; this one has a conflict between the two greatest people on each side of the eternal struggle between good and evil (light and dark, if you want to go with the movie's mythology). The first one had a giant, swirling, catastrophic vortex hovering over Moscow. That can't even hold a candle to either of the new supernatural objects that are introduced in Day Watch: the Chalk of Fate and the Yo-yo of Doom. No one actually calls it "the Yo-yo of Doom," but how else would one refer to a yo-yo that incites the Apocalypse?

In case you missed the first movie, there is a recap before the next installment proper starts. However, if you missed the first film and end up seeing the second beforehand, you will be utterly, completely lost. It's been 1,000 years of peace since the truce between the Light and Dark Others. Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) lost his son Yegor (Dima Martynov) to the Day Watch (the Dark Others who keep tabs on the actions of the Light Others), and it turns out the boy is the Great Dark Other, who could shift the balance of power between Dark and Light. It also turns out that Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina), the cursed virgin from the first movie, is the Great Light Other, which contradicts what the first movie told us about the existence of a single Great Other, but if you can go along with everything so far, you can go along with this. The meeting of the two Great Others will cause the end of the world or the final battle between Dark and Light that will result in the end of the world or something along those lines. Anyway, it's bad. Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky), the leader of the Day Watch, wants that to happen.

I've spent over 150 words on plot, and it's all background information with nothing about the story itself. Except for that last part about Zavulon, I suppose, but Anton finds out about the Chalk of Fate, a piece of chalk with the ability to change the past. He wants it to right the wrong he did at the beginning of the first film which eventually estranged him from his son and sent the boy down the Dark path. In the process of finding the Chalk of Fate, Anton ends up being hunted by the Day Watch on suspicion of murder (the victim, by the by, died from a "complete loss of power"), and to hide, Geser (Vladimir Menshov), the leader of the Night Watch (Light Others who keep track of the Dark Others), switches his body with that of Olga (Galina Tyunina), a sorceress who was also at one time was a Great Other (apparently, she was demoted after almost starting the great battle to end all time). The problem is that Anton and Svetlana have some sexual tension between them, and Anton-as-Olga holes up in her apartment, which leads to one of the stranger love scenes I've seen. It starts with Anton-as-Olga staring at Svetlana in the shower and somehow ends up in a commercial for feminine hygiene products.

Yes, this film is definitely an odder assortment of fantasy hodgepodge than its predecessor, and it doesn't stop there. There's some action, like Zavulon using a trolley cable as a whip to hit Anton, overturning cars in the process. Even weirder is a woman driving a car along the side of a hotel (there's a slow-motion moment where a maid watches it as she cleans the windows), smashes the car through a window, drives it through the hall, and crashes in Zavulon's office. What brings the scene from ridiculous to ludicrous is the fact that she's doing all of this simply to try to talk to Zavulon. There's also Anton's fight with the worst assassin ever, a man who transmogrifies from a parrot and is called, appropriately enough, Parrot (Igor Lifanov).. The whole thing escalates to Yegor's birthday party at the aforementioned hotel, where Zavulon's gift of a foil-ball yo-yo literally starts the destruction of civilization. This, of course, answers the eternal question: The world will not end in fire or ice but by a yo-yo. Moscow is ripped apart by little extensions of the toy—pummeling buildings to the ground, sending people fleeing through the streets, and sending a Ferris wheel down the same streets.

I enjoyed Day Watch for the same reason I liked Night Watch: It's mesmerizing in its embracing of oddity. The novelty of the material is admittedly starting to show some wear in the sequel, and the ending appears to have wrapped everything up with some time-bending courtesy of the Chalk of Fate (I'll leave you to discover where it's ultimately found, but its location is appropriate in its simplicity). There's still one more chapter left, though, and if any series can pull some bizarre tricks out of its hat to justify another installment, it's this one.

Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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