Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sarah O.

Wanted: Bekmambetov

Timur Bekmambetov. That’s a lot of name. Don’t ask me to pronounce it, but more of us might have to learn. Why? You might not have heard of the movies Night Watch and Day Watch, but then this might place you in the minority in comparison to the rest of the world. These two movies took Russia by storm and enjoyed limited release in the United States. In fact, Night Watch became the highest grossing movie of all time in Russia, beating out all our American imports. What could be so good to engross such a large population? Well, if you saw last year’s Wanted with Angelina Jolie, you might have some idea why.

To tell the truth, I did not realize these movies were connected through Bekmambetov. Something clicked in the back of my mind when I saw the man’s face fragmented through shards of glass (see above). This somehow seemed familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. What added to my suspicions is that one of the characters in Wanted, the Exterminator, is played by Konstantin Khabensky, who plays the hero (Anton Gorodetsky) in the Watch series. For once, I eagerly awaited the credits while the movie was still playing to find out if my detection skills were as keen as I thought, (I was watching it with someone else & thought it might be rude to interrupt the movie for something so trivial) so I waited patiently. With this much evidence and Bekmambetov’s signature style, the answer should’ve been obvious.

To tell the truth, Wanted does not have the best story line. Some of the lowlights include: the “Loom of Fate” that chooses who the next target will be, assassins that came to be out of a secret society of medieval weavers, and a feeble romance between Jolie and James McAvoy. McAvoy is known from the movies The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Atonement, both of which I highly recommend if you have not seen them yet. Despite these flaws, they seem minor compared with all the action on the screen. The story almost melts into the background because your eyes are too busy trying to process all the information on the screen. Again, this is a great choice for those of you with HDTVs. Some of the staging Bekmambetov comes up with would have been a fantasy just a few years ago. If you’re looking for something new and similar to Wanted, give his record-breaking Russian works a try.

Got to Watch

The Watch series was first imagined by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko, and was written as a trilogy, which so many series often are. Three seems to be the perfect number between too much and too little. I can’t say that I’ve read the books, but the movies make me want to. I think Night Watch does a decent job of getting the viewer up-to-date on the battle between the forces of good and evil. Only, in this series, the line is not so clearly drawn. Good and evil work together in order to keep a delicate balance in the world. One cannot survive without the other, and therein lays the crux of the struggle between the two sides and is the conflict in the series.

Night Watch has been described as horror, science fiction and fantasy. Why not all three? I wasn’t trying to categorize these movies as I watched them; I was merely enjoying them for all the sinfully visual reasons to. Actors shape shift from human to animal on-screen and cars have the ability to drive on buildings. The effects are certainly reminiscent of The Matrix in the characters’ travels through a middle dimension, but this looks cleaner, more polished.

Day Watch furthers the story along, and develops the characters further. The plot even thickens. Think of the Star Wars trilogy (from the 1970’s) and Lord of the Rings trilogy. The second movie is most often the darkest, and most often the best one, since it ends in a cliffhanger, and you can’t see how the hero(s) will get out of the jam they got themselves into. Day Watch is much the same way, only I thought that was the end. I recently found out the third, and last movie is in the works and will be entitled Dusk Watch or Twilight Watch, depending on which country you live in. I eagerly anticipate this, but in the meantime, content yourself with these two selections. I guarantee you will want more.

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