Web Exclusive: ""Day Watch""

    The highest-grossing film in post-communist Russia, “”Day Watch,”” is one badass piece of cinematic brilliance. Sequel to 2004’s “”Night Watch”” and adaptation of the famed Sci-Fi series of the same name, “”Day Watch”” puts most American movies to shame with its blatant disregard for the laws of physics. What the movie boasts, aside from vodka and leering Russian supafreaks, is the most aweing special effects of the year. Imagine cars that can drive along the sides of sky scrapers and people that jump realms through bus station ads, turning them into thousands of glittering glass shards. “”Day Watch”” successfully treads that thin line between show-boating action and drowning its story in its own carnage.

    This time around, the story follows our not-so-dashing lead, Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), as he continues to keep the balance between dark and light ones as they go head-to-head for control of the world and tries to save his son from the nasty clutches of head evil dude, Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky). Policing the forces of good and evil can be a tough job, especially when you’re the equivalent of the LAPD, and the bad guys aren’t gangsters but rogue witches, vampires and shape-shifters (oh my). So luckily, the forces of light are blessed with the supernatural ability to throw people into walls and drop planes from the sky, an advantage that makes for quite a paranormal police department.

    Silly as it may sound, Anton and his powerful young apprentice, Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina), are after the chalk of fate. Yes, it’s literally a piece of chalk. And no, this baby does not create rock stars like that ill-famed pick of destiny. Rather, it has the power to change the past and bring whoever you want right to your doorstep. It’s a handy thing to have when the main threat to your world happens to be that of the two great powers from either side fighting one another. Never the two shall meet, or the 2,000-year-old truce of cease-fire between light and dark will end and the rest, as the old adage goes, is history.

    The film is a genre tale with a sassy edge, pulling you into the gritty streets of Moscow with an elaborate theology and chic beyond the traditional good-vs.-evil epic. “”Day Watch”” improves upon the clunkiness of its predecessor, weaving a tighter story almost coherent enough to understand in one sitting. But it’s also a head scratcher that can leave you feeling a bit lost. So much time is spent just trying to keep up with the effects, storyline and characters that it’s like a ride on the good ship Willy Wonka and you’re losing your mind in a psychedelic mushroom cloud of post-communist gothic.

    The heavy load is lightened by the self-deprecating fun that appeals to us stimulant-saturated Americans. The subtitles bounce, shake and wisp away along with the on-screen action and there’s even a “”Ghost”” reference. It ends up being a visual feast for the eyes and ears, with some new texture hitting your lenses every couple of minutes. With all that, it’s hard not to be riled up, at least if you can keep up with the plot. If you haven’t seen the first movie (recently or at all), its zippy pace can leave you in the dust. Do yourself a favor, rent the first movie and then enjoy the ride in the theaters.

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