Wow, thanks for the rousing introduction, Atlas. This was to be my greatest moment. My incarnation! The birth of the blogging geeky roommate! Only I've chosen to drop the whole "Geeky" angle because my geek potential pales at the sight of Atlas'. The man knows far too much about Star Trek: The Next Generation to call me geeky. Throw in his insatiable lust for "Charmed" and it moves him right up to "Tool" status.
But, I am blogging. Back to that. There was a request I discuss my choices for a new Bond and I thought about discussing how freaking incredible it was seeing "Batman Begins" in IMAX, but those seemed right unimpressive. So, for my big debut, I'm bringing you lot something big. Sort of. Let's call it an "Assistant Atlas Premiere". The first of some movie reviews that I will do if I find the time to stop being lazy and write for once. On we go.
For those ill-informed movie buffs of the LA area, there is a magical festival of films held every year - appropriately titled "The Los Angeles Film Festival" - that I suggest you check out. Not now, though, you already missed it. Next time I'll warn you in advance. However, for the mere price of a movie ticket ($10), you could have seen a whole mess of classics, indies, music videos, and pending international releases you may never hear of.
Last Thursday, I was more than thrilled to see "Night Watch (Notchnoi Dozor)", the "first chapter in an epic fantasy trilogy". The trailer for this thing is off the hook. Catch it here
if you ain't seen it yet and you'll get a glimpse at what I'm talking about. So I'm psyched. I like Russians (both the white and the black kinds), I like horror movies, I like fantasy movies, I like trilogies, and I love seeing movies way before everyone else does so I can have bragging rights. So I'm gonna brag, and then I'll tell in brief what I really thought.
WOOOHOOO, I saw this movie before most of North America! Take that!
And now, about the film (no worries, no real spoilers):
As with most horror/fantasy movies, Night Watch is about good and evil. Basically the forces of Light and Dark fight the hell out of each other, come to the conclusion that neither can win, and settle on a truce that humankind should never be forced to choose either good or evil, they should always have the right to pick their own destiny. Sounds a little familiar, no? So the truce sets up this system whereby the forces of Light keep the forces of Dark in check and vice versa. The Night Watch watches the Dark, to make sure they don't kill innocent people or unwittingly dupe them into becoming evil. The Day Watch does the same for the Light, but apparently, that's the second movie.
Our protagonist is Anton Gorodetsky. A man with a plan to get his cheating wife back with the aid of a little (unbeknownst to him) Dark Magic. This act lures the Night Watch to come and save his ass from turning evil, whereby we discover that Anton is actually an Other. The Others are those who have special powers, they make up the Night Watch, and the Day Watch, and any being basically considered Light or Dark. Special powers include: being a vampire, being a witch, having telekinesis, shape-shifting abilities, mind-reading, and a heaps of other prizes. Legend has it that there is a dude out there who can sway the balance between the Light and Dark, forcing one side's hand, and rumor has it, that man is Anton. Fortunately, Anton sides with the Light and soon joins forces with the Night Watch. His ability to see the future is apparently just what the Night Watch needs to lay down the law on some feisty Dark Others.
Here's where I stop rambling about the plot and start talking about the film itself, because for me, the plot was pretty much "meh". I don't want to give anything away, but, suffice to say, this is a plotline that isn't unfamiliar. However, the way it's done, is just short of fantastic. As the trailer shows, the visuals in this movie are sick. Vomitously ill - and I mean that in a good way. There is some stuff here I ain't never seen before. Production value: top notch. Direction: pretty sweet. Cinematography: inventive and spectacular. And there was something I've never seen done before in a foreign film: the subtitles were ingrained in the movie itself. Sweetness! For those of you who think watching dubbed movies is an okay practice because you hate reading subtitles, I spit on you, but I would suggest that even you might find comfort in the delightfully imaginative subtitling of this film. It conveys moods and tones! Magical.
But again, the plot is kind of tired, and the movie wasn't so much horror as an abstract comedy. At times reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it had this bizarro comedic element to it that was disconcerting for a movie that should be rather...dark. Maybe it's the Russians. Maybe I haven't seen enough Russian cinema to appreciate how drunk on vodka they really are. Or maybe, they were working the yin-yang angle. Because the movie is about good and evil, there had to be a balance between the dark visuals and something funny. Something funny like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, episode 7.1 ("Buffy vs. Darcula") gets a nod, and that's a plus in my book.
Honestly though, I was a little disappointed in this movie. I had such high expectations for a hard-core horror/fantasy based off the trailer, that I discounted the fact it could get schmaltzy when trying to cater to such a broad demographic. This was not unlike the disappointment I suffered upon the premiere of "The Phantom Menace", only... not that bad. I ain't totally blowing off the movie though. As a film spectacle, it drags its way from the pits of plot despair. I think many elements within it showcase the future of film. This director, Timur Bekmambetov, seems something special. I'm gonna have to check out his first movie "The Arena"
. Mmm... "Live by the sword... Die by the Gladiatrix." Sweet.
This is The Roomie, geeking out.