Studio: 20th Century Fox
Starring: Konstantin Khabensky
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov
Running Time: 146 minutes
Ratings: Canada – Not Rated, USA – R, UK – 15
In this thrilling sequel to Night Watch, only one thing stands between peace and Armageddon: the supernatural agents of Day Watch, who fight to control the armies of Light and Darkness. When the son of a senior Day Watch officer turns to the Darkness, incredible forces are unleashed… and the fate of the world hangs in the balance!
Day Watch, the sequel to Russia’s blockbuster sensation Night Watch, picks up shortly after where the first left off. Anton is dealing with his past and his newfound place in the world while taking a Night Watch trainee under his wing. This trainee, as it turns out, is destined to become a “great one” who will be part of a ressurection of the ancient war between Light and Darkness. And, the face of this individual will not be an unfamiliar one. And, in his own quest to discover the truth about an ancient relic, Anton brings about a sequence of events that will ultimately help two formidable forces collide in a most devastating way.
Director Timur Bekmambetov has the opportunity to show a much more mature approach to filmmaking with this installment. The original film can be described as a project where style took precedence over substance. That isn’t a slight by any means as many franchise possibilities require a more energized screen in order to be able to continue. Night Watch isn’t perfect, as seen in my review of it, but it is certainly one hell of a fun ride with some depth to back it up. Day Watch threads the needle even more as story and character get an immense boost. The entire cast seems to have more arc to deal with. In turn, this helps the viewer to grasp a better sense of empathy for them. This invariably helps draw the viewer in for the extra 30 minutes of run time over its predecessor. The increased attention to character and story does affect the action sequences. However, it is only the frequency that is diminished and not the severity. The action sequences are fewer, but substantially more pronounced. As a result, the CGI nature of many visual effect shots are much more concise than in Night Watch.
There is no way to describe Day Watch other than as an improvement over Night Watch. It is a romp through the wild kingdom when you have grown to know the animals personalities; You care for them all, but want to see it all come to shambles for the sake of retribution and redemption.
P.S. In order to fully comprehend the outcome of Day Watch, it is absolutely necessary to understand where it all began. In other words, MAKE CERTAIN TO VIEW NIGHT WATCH BEFORE DAY WATCH! One without the other is like an Oreo cookie without the filling. It’s good, but feels like it’s missing something.
Crave Factor – 9
Commentary – Ummm… some strange unintroduced individual (hereby known as “the voice”) joins director Timur Bekmambetov for the commentary of the film. The voice guides Timur through the commentary very much as an interviewer. Timur tends to rely to heavily on this individual as he seems to simply wait for a question before speaking. As a result, there are plenty of dead air moments between questions. Unfortunately, this also limit’s the depth to which Timur actually delves regarding the content. There is much more discussion regarding the physical aspects of production than I would care for when the film context/material has such great potential for philosophical/spiritual/religious topical discussion. The film is rich with imagery and subtext which, for the most part, gets completely ignored. Too much focus is given to the business end of production and the casting. Or, as I like to call it, too much “surface talk.”
The Making Of Day Watch (26:08) – First, make certain to turn the English subtitles on in the menu prior to beginning the extra feature playback. The entire feature is in Russian and incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t speak the language. This is a very well constructed extra feature that details plenty of information that extends beyond the surface of the presentation of the film. Some of the more interesting topics discussed include the God/Satan analogy, the actors approaches to certain scenarios faced by their characters, stunts, CGI, and how they filmed the birthday party sequence (quite a risky and brave decision I might add).
D-Box – Again, the film includes coding for the motion technology that turns your living room furniture into an anusement park ride. The more I see this feature optioned with films where the action gets intense, the more tempted I am to actually get myself the hardware.
Crave Factor – 7
2.35:1 Widescreen / AVC
Just like Night Watch, this Blu-ray holds the golden key to my visual cortex. There is nothing more beautiful than a transfer that can handle both film grain and depth of field. The visual presentation of this film is prophetic for the Blu-ray format. Unlike the first film, the action of Day Watch does not take place in so much darkness. This means that there is much more colour and more production design to see. Thanks to this impeccable image, not a single detail is lost. What film grain is present does not hinder the three-dimensional quality of the image as it has on many other transfers. Skin tones are also magnificent in their portrayal. Obviously, with such high praise, the transfer is clear of artifacting, banding and pixilation. All around great work.
Crave Factor – 10
DTS HD MA 5.1 (Russian) / DTS 5.1 (English) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (French/Spanish)
There is no other way to watch this film than with the Russian DTS HD MA 5.1 track. You may find it less tiring on the eyes to listen to a DTS 5.1 English track, but the sacrifice is well worth it. I could not believe the increased frequency range of the DTS HD MA track over the DTS track. One particular scene in which to note a major difference between the two DTS audio tracks is near the end around the escaped ferris wheel. Without detailing the scene, I will just say that my ears were tearing up with joy during DTS HD MA playback. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying without reading subtitles, but it was still worth it to be surrounded by such awesomeness! Oh, and did I forget to mention that I’m almost certain that I witnessed a moment where my subwoofer was levitating because of the amount of air it was moving and the insane vibrations it was creating?!?!?!
That being said, there is nothing wrong with the DTS 5.1 English track. Those who have enjoyed the expertise of the DTS team in the past will be able to find comfort in this one without compromise. But, when compared to its big brother, the DTS HD MA track, it definitely comes across as slightly weak. And yet, it still offers so much more than the Dolby Digital French and Spanish tracks.
All audio tracks have a well balanced mix with dialogue easily understood amidst the multitude of sound effects.
Crave Factor – 10
In the same design as the Night Watch Blu-ray release, this disc offers an array of clips from the film being presented as though projected on a surface. This time it appears as though there is a faint image of Anton on which the images appear. The clips transition with a flame effect that ignites in the centre of the screen and pushes outwards in all directions. This disc main menu seems to be tinted in orange (perhaps to the less dark nature of the presentation). Scoring the montage is another intense piece of the film soundtrack while the menu options are displayed along the bottom of the screen in a themed menu bar. This menu bar doubles as the playback menu during the presentation.
Crave Factor – 9
20th Century Fox has once again done Timur Bekmambetov’s work amazing justice with this release of Day Watch on Blu-ray. Everything positive about the Night Watch release is echoed on this release. Very strong visual presentation. Extremely powerful audio presentation. The extra features feel a bit lacking due to a weak commentary (which I blame entirely on “the voice”) and only one extra feature. However, the D-Box coding could come in handy for those with the hardware. Certainly worthy of being a collectible title, Day Watch is a Blu-ray that will definitely make use of your home theatre equipment. The only question is whether you will like the film or not. But, again, I must stress, that viewing Night Watch prior to this title is a must.