Night Watch / Day Watch (Blu-ray)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Dmitri Martynov
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
Timur Bekmambetov. If you don't know that name yet, believe me you will. Recently this Russian filmmaker delivered an incredible American action movie called Wanted, but before that he helmed two of the biggest Russian films in the country's history. Bigger than even The Lord of the Rings trilogy was here. They're known as the Watch films, and though it's not here yet, part three of this franchise is well under way. Let's start at the beginning with the one that started it all ... Night Watch.
The balance between the light and dark forces surrounding our everyday life is both constant and vital. In the Watch world they are broken down into two factions who regularly police each other. The Night Watch keeps a close eye on the witches, vampires, and shapeshifters known as the Dark Others, and those creatures keep their eyes well focused on us. You see, many centuries ago a pact was made to stop the bloodshed between us and the monsters of the night. The agreement was simple: We get the days, and the creatures get the night. Everything was just fine until a chain of events pulls the trigger on an ancient prophecy. An all-powerful immortal is poised to switch sides, thus creating absolute and total anarchy amongst the soon to be once again warring factions. A war that will shatter the peace and usher in the apocalypse.
That's basically it in a nutshell. For a far more detailed review of the story and the special features included in the original Night Watch DVD release, click here, as we'll be talking strictly Blu-ray from here on out.
There's no question this is a fantastic release. The movie looks and sounds astounding. Bekmambetov and company went to great lengths to construct the most incredible fantasy world that they could. In full 1080p you will see every single onscreen detail you can imagine. Every tattered piece of clothing. Every hair on a creature's head. It sounds as good as it looks, too. This world will consume you. Viewers will feel like they're right smack in the middle of the epic battles that unfold before their eyes and ears. It's an exquisite experience ... except for one horrendously nagging omission, something that the DVD had that is ridiculously absent here.
When Night Watch originally hit America, it brought with it the most amazing subtitles you have ever seen. They were far from just letters on a screen. These sweeping words and titles became a character in and of themselves. On this Blu-ray we get just your average simple text. To add further insult to injury, there's a new extra included here detailing the process of creating those imaginative subbies, reminding us how great and how missed they truly are. This omission is totally senseless and inexplicable.
But we do get a few other new things to make up for it -- namely, four more extra bits of supplemental goodness. First up is a near forty-minute making-of that is in Russian with English subtitles. Basically this is your tried and true cast and crew documentary that's riddled with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. From there we get the coolest new feature: a nine-minute graphic novel gallery that offers a bit more back story on several of the film's lesser characters. Tack on a Russian poster gallery, and we're done. While having this additional material is awesome, I'd still trade it all in to have my stylized subtitles back.
The very next year Timur and company released the second chapter in the franchise, a movie that took everything we adored about the first film and amped the intensity and the action up to a screaming twenty on a scale of one to ten. Day Watch was unleashed, and there was good reason for much rejoicing. Looking for a movie that will straight up kick your ass? Look no further.
Our story continues with the aforementioned immortal indeed turning to the dark side, thus throwing the world's balance into ruin. The only thing standing between us and Armageddon is the franchise hero, Anton (an amazing Konstantin Khabensky). A while has passed since the events of the first film, and our protagonist is still trying to come to grips with the route his life and the lives of his loved ones have taken. He's struggling but not compromised. Anton remains dedicated to his cause to restore order in a world that's quickly descending into chaos. That is, until members of the Dark Others start turning up dead with all evidence pointing toward him, thereby putting this poor guy on the run with both the Night Watch and the Day Watch looking to serve up his head on a nice silver platter.
As with the above film, for a more in-depth review of the plot and the special features included on the original Day Watch DVD release, click here. Debi went into such great detail that I won't even bother trying to compete! Maybe it's just her Eastern European heritage kicking in, but she exhibits a far greater grasp on the story than I do. Truth be told, I've seen both of these flicks several times and still don't fully comprehend all of their events. That's okay though; I'm totally fine diggin' on the creatures and the non-stop epic action sequences!
The picture and sound quality on this disc is just as magnificent as it is on the Night Watch Blu-ray. Blacks are solid, the contrast and color detail are spot on, and honestly there's not a single negative thing to say about this presentation, except for the supplemental material.
We get nothing new. Not a single hi-def exclusive. We saw the entire extras-laden enchilada on the original DVD release. I would think that with a movie this big there would have to be something laying around somewhere. Hell, just some more of the graphic novel would have sufficed. Alas, in this case it's Doughnut-ville and Cheerio-land for us.
But don't let that dissuade you. If you have a Blu-ray player, these two films are nothing short of must-owns. They truly are some of the most compelling, richly detailed, and spellbinding cinematic experiences you can treat yourself to. So go ahead, step into the high definition gloom without caution, and get set to immerse yourself into the greatness of this franchise. Thank the movie gods that Twilight Watch is very much on the fast track! Get your hands on these flicks now as a means to prep for whatever jaw-dropping madness Bekmambetov no doubt has waiting for us!
4 1/2 out of 5
Special Features on each Blu-ray:
3 1/2 out of 5 each
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