The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Feature running time: 114 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): Russian DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean
Starring: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Music by: Yuri Poteyenko
Written by: Sergei Lukyanenko, Timur Bekmambetov
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 9, 2008
"All that stands between light and darkness is The Night Watch"
Among normal humans live the "Others" possessing various supernatural powers. They are divided up into the forces of light and the forces of the dark, who signed a truce several centuries ago to end a devastating battle. Ever since, the forces of light govern the day while the night belongs to their dark opponents. In modern day, the dark Others actually roam the night as vampires while a "Night Watch" of light forces, among them Anton, try to control them and limit their outrage. A chain of mysterious events triggers an age-old prophecy, shattering the balance and unleashing an apocalyptic war unlike any the world has ever known.
This is the first film by Russian Director/Writer Timur Bekmambetov about the warring forces of light and dark. It sets up the events that play out over this film and its sequel Day Watch. The story introduces Anton who lives in modern day Russia. His wife tells him that she is leaving him for another man. He goes to see an old woman who he believes will be able to bring her back but Anton is unaware that she is actually a witch (dark other). This woman tells him that his wife is pregnant by the other man and the unborn baby must be aborted or she will return to the other man. Anton agrees to this and the old woman prepares a drink involving Anton's blood which he drinks. He has a vision of his wife telling the other man they have to split up. The old woman casts a spell to abort the child, at which time Anton's wife collapses and clutches at her womb. Before the spell is complete and the baby aborted, three figures burst into the apartment, one of them shapeshifts into a tiger, and they hold the old woman down so she can't complete the spell. Anton is able to see them and they realize that he must have the powers of a seer. Fast forward 12 years and Anton is a member of Night Watch, along with the three figures mentioned earlier, and he seems to drifting aimlessly through his existence. A twelve-year-old boy, Yegor, is swimming in a public pool and begins hearing a psychic call by a vampire who intends to feed on him. Anton can hear the call also and begins to track Yegor. Anton tracks Yegor to a remote bulding and encounters the vampires who are about to feed on him. He subsequently kills one of them leaving the other, a female, alive. It is discovered afterward that the male vampire had the appropriate license issued by Night Watch to turn the woman into a vampire. The killing could be construed as a violation of the truce between the two factions. It turns out that Yegor is the child that was nearly aborted by the witch's spell 12 years earlier and is the key to an age old prophecy. Zavulon the leader of the Day Watch has plans for Yegor and orchestrates a series of events to turn him into a dark other.
I liked this film's visual and sound design. It definitely played an integral part in the telling of the story. Conceptually this premise is nothing new so that helped to make it more interesting. The film was paced well and had a few decent action sequences and special effects. The characters were pretty evenly drawn with the lone exception being Svetlana who ends up being more important in the sequel. When it was over I felt it spun a fairly entertaining tale that did so from a differing perspective than the types of film's that are made in the States.
The film is unrated but contains language, violence, brief nudity and thematic elements that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Night Watch comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 mbps.
Both this film and Day Watch use similar visual styles that don't lend themselves to overly vibrant and high gloss video quality. Images tend to lean toward darker color schemes, and grittier textures that provide the look that the filmmakers strive for to drive the story's elements. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is quite good and revealing of subtle details within dark backgrounds and low lighting sequences which gave those scenes better visual depth. Good contrast and black levels allowed scenes containing mixed content to look dynamic with punchy dark highlights. Detail was rendered quite well with crisp textures and definitive resolution that brought forth subtle nuance within images onscreen. Colors were limited to darker tones with occasional splashes of vivid hues which stood out nicely against the films dark theme. Grain is intact and appears to be well preserved.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly aggressive and offers sound quality that is excellent. The mix utilizes the entire system to create an enveloping atmosphere that is brimming with spatial and discrete sound effects. Panning sequences were delivered with seamless precision which made for a cohesive sound field. The dynamic range is forceful and delivers solid impact and clearly articulated audio that allows all of the sonic detail inherent with the soundtrack to be audible. Bass reproduction is clean, deep and palpably present (The party/attack sequence in chapter 36 sounded superb). Yuri Poteyenko's hard rock music had a potent and visceral feel that was enhanced by the soundtracks impressive dynamic quality. Dialogue is crystalline with distinct tonal variation and discernible texture among the cast. This was a great sounding audio presentation.
The bonus features offer fans an interesting look into the world of the Light and Dark Others and the production of this film. The 40 minute long making of documentary covers the bases pretty well in terms of behind the scenes footage, and interviews of the main players. There are two commentary pieces and two short features on the trilogy and story concepts. Deleted scenes and several still photo galleries round out the production based extras. The Making of documentary is the stand out among this group .
- Audio commentary by Director Timur Bekmambetov
- Subtitled commentary by Novelist Sergei Lukyanenko
- 7 Deleted scenes - With optional Russian audio and Director commentary
- Making of Night Watch - Featurette
- Characters, story and subtitles
- Night Watch Trilogy
- Comic Book still gallery
- Poster gallery
- (HD)Theatrical Trailer
- (HD) Fox on Blu-ray - 6 BD trailers
- D-Box Motion Code
Night Watch will probably not be to everyone's liking but it, along with its sequel Day Watch do offer an interesting conceptual spin on this genre from Russian filmmakers. I thought the films direction and screenplay kept the story on point and provided the foundation for its characters and sequel. I can't say with certainty that I am truly a fan but I did find it entertaining. Fans are sure to appreciate the attention to detail paid by Fox with the high resolution audio and video quality on this Blu-ray Disc. This is recommended for fans but casual interest is best served with a rental first.
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