A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 248 – Day Watch

Day Watch – November 3rd, 2010

Being a curious sort of person, after watching tonight’s movie I went to wikipedia and poked around the entry for the novel this movie is based on. Contrary to what one might assume, given that it shares a title with the second book, this movie is actually based on a combination of the latter two sections of the first book. Having not finished the book, I hadn’t realized that, but then I did think the first movie was somewhat short for such a long novel, even given the adjustments that have to be made between page and screen. So it makes sense, with two plots merged here, that this movie is longer, and a little more complicated.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the combination of plots. I can say that I do like some of the other changes made (at least according to wikipedia, so take this with a slab of salt) to make certain characters more central to the plot. But taking a plot about a murder mystery, with Anton being framed for the murders of Dark Others in order to draw out the more powerful people around him, and combining it with a plot about a hunt for a legendary piece of chalk that can change destiny? It wasn’t done poorly, but it makes for a lot of plot threads to follow. And there’s at least one point where it felt slapped together. But I’m not sure either single plot would really have sufficed as a cinematic follow-up to the events set out in the first movie. Given the father and son stuff set up there, as well as the big climactic end of the world deal, the second movie really needed a big plot.

See, I like the father and son stuff. Anton’s son from the first movie, Yegor, is now in deep with the Dark Others. He’s made his choice to stand with them and Zevulon, the leader of the Dark, has taken him in as a surrogate son. Anton’s been bending the rules and in some cases outright breaking them in order to try and get his son back. Anton’s bumbling is really the center of a lot of plots here, and in the first movie, and they really do a good job doubling back to wrap a lot of that up in the end. Also coming to the forefront are Anton’s vampire neighbors, a father who turned his son to save him from double pneumonia. And so we have more father and son stuff. I can’t tell from the wiki summaries if that’s at all in the book. It doesn’t appear to be. At least not enough to get a mention, so I’m going with it not being a thing at all. But I liked it. It managed to tie together some disparate pieces of plot and pull them into a cohesive story.

Without the father and son stuff, I think the chalk plot and the murder plot could have been too far apart. But through it all there’s a thread of choices made and how they affect your own life and the lives of those you care for. One of the key points in the story is how you can’t change another person’s destiny. But it seems to me that you can, if you change your own. And it’s all tied to Anton and Yegor and Zevulon and the vampires, along with Anton’s girlfriend, Sveta (also from the first movie) and Zevulon’s lover, Alicia. The one thing that struck me as poorly incorporated into the whole plot was Anton and Olga heading to Samarkand and then deciding not to. Which kind of pisses me off. The movie is otherwise paced rather well, with the more serious discussions and exposition interspersed with action and displays of magic and the world the Others live in. And then smack in the middle is this diverted trip out of Moscow that ends up not happening. Sure, the chalk plot involves Samarkand, and a lot is done to set it up, but with the moving coming in at two and a half hours, the bit on the plane could have been dropped and the conversation between Olga and Anton moved elsewhere – the airport even – and it would have worked fine.

I really did enjoy this movie. It gave me a lot more Olga, whom I adore and was thrilled to see get a lot more screen time (and kudos to Galina Kyunina for doing a spot-on Anton impression in the beginning – I think I love her and must find more of her work). It also had some interesting stuff with Alicia and more of the world the movie takes place in. It does a lot of telling, yes, but it also does a crapload of showing, which is fantastic. I think my only real complaint about the movie as a whole is the ending, and even there I understand it. I get why it was done the way it was done and I get what had to happen given the events leading up to the climax. But it feels a little tired, which is a pity. I hope they find a way to bring the action back in again if they look into making another movie, but if they don’t? Then I think the world the movie ends in is a perfectly good one.

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November 3, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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