I caught DayWatch at the Seattle Film Festival last night (in Bellevue’s latest upscale theater, no less, which was an strange exercise in dichotomies). The sequel to NightWatch, DayWatch picks up shortly after the first film (and, even, has a two minute recap of the first film for those who are late to the party), and follows Anton and his fellow NightWatchmen in their continuing effort to forestall the Apocalypse. As cmpriest recently mentioned, the films (there are going to be three, I believe, and there are four or six books) are filled with magical decay, a sort of fading industrial landscape where the magic is cobbled together with whatever is at hand. One of the delights of these films is how their use of CGI is subtle (when compared with the Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Silver school of Blowing Shit Up)–more of an after-thought than an excuse. These, along with Man on Fire, approach both subtitles and sonic cues as integral aspect of the presentation, adding a richness to the film that is more than just keeping your eyeballs entertained.
The Internet coughed up DayWatch for me a while back and, having been excited about seeing a proper print of the film, I was pleasantly surprised last night. I don’t know if it was just the successive viewing or the better subtitles, but I found the resolution quite satisfying and the screenplay to be rather tightly constructed. When NightWatch came through my office, I had a codex issue and both the sound and the subtitles didn’t work, but that hadn’t stopped me from watching it five or six times (the beauty of dual monitors). Having read the book (the first one, both films cover most of that book), my initial impression of DayWatch was that it softened how manipulative Gesser and Zavulon were with their pawns, and it turns out I was wrong. The film, while having the added conceit of Yegor and Anton’s familial relationship, still manages to be unrelenting in its use of the players.
In fact, I’m not convinced that Zavulon isn’t as devoted as Gesser to keeping the peace. It’s just that his methods are . . . different.
Anyway, it looks like DayWatch is out in a limited release (I keep seeing it in the New York Times when I’m pretending to be able to do the crossword), and hopefully it’ll get a larger release when theaters start dropping Johnny Depp’s latest vehicle. It is filled with the sort of eye candy that, if you blink, you will miss, and you will be saddened by the loss. Not to mention some nicely done layers of relationships between fathers and sons.
In fact, while I like the books quite a bit, I think the films are a little richer, a little denser. They reward multiple viewings more. They are, actually, quite invigorating on many levels.