Thursday, March 2, 2006

Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)

Posted on Thu, Mar 2, 2006 at 4:00 AM

***1/2
Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rated: R
Website: http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/nwnd/
Release Date: 2006-03-03
Cast: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Maria Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Mariya Poroshina
Director: Timour Bekmambetov
Screenwriter: Timour Bekmambetov, Sergei Lukyanenko
Music Score: Yuri Poteyenko
WorkNameSort: Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)
Our Rating: 3.50

The Russian horror blockbuster finally gets a stateside release, revealing once and for all that its depiction of warring supernatural armies isn't as much fun as Constantine's but has an imaginative streak that keeps it far above the Underworlds. The story – some earnest hokum about vampires and their pursuers on the eve of a feared apocalypse – conforms to rules of ghoulish behavior that accrue and mutate with delightful impetuousness, as if a bunch of kids were playing "tag" in a Moscow graveyard. Though too many headstones are left unturned (if you establish that a character can transform into a bear, you'd better show it to me, dammit), the incorporation of ancient folklore into the grimy ghoul hunting balances the Matrix-esque choreography quite nicely. Bonus the Russkie audience didn't enjoy: bouncing, blood-drenched subtitles that add to the fun without descending to Tony Scott levels of absurdity.

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