Whale of a Tale Productions

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Day Watch by Timur Bekmambetov (2006)

I enjoyed this sequel to Night Watch just as much as I enjoyed the first film, though I have no idea what the 3rd film will be about, since this film seems to end the storyline created in the first film. Another very enjoyable and amazingly visual film. Bekmambetov did a great job here creating this alternate world. I can see why Hollywood snapped him up as fast as they could, lets just hope they make the sequel. This film has great visual effects, and looks amazing, and is very well acted. I really enjoyed this film. Amazing that 4.2 million can make something that looks this good in Russia, when that wouldn’t make anything here in the states.

This film starts one year after Night Watch still following Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky) who is now working with Night Watch trainee Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) who he is also dating. She is more powerful than him though, possibly a great one, and this keeps him from doing much. They go on a mission, chasing a young dark one, and Svetlana manages to go into the second level of the gloom following him, and Anton has to try and get her out, and all they get is a hat from the dark one who turns out to be Yegor (Dmitry Martynov) his son, and he tries to cover for him. He even sneaks into the headquarters and steals the hat, and then gets blamed for Dark one deaths, though they are being done by Dark Ones, but he won’t give up because it will give up Yegor, and he doesn’t want his son in trouble. In order to make up for his sin of trying to have Yegor killed by a witch as a fetus, he wants to get the mythical chalk of fate, which can change ones own fate. It was from Asia, and found by a great warrior in the past.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Night Watch by Timur Bemambetov (2004)

I had wanted to see this a long time ago, but after seeing WANTED I decided i wanted to see Night Watch and it’s sequel, and I was not disappointed, in fact I think I enjoyed these films more than I enjoyed WANTED, and am hoping that his US debut does not curtail plans to make the 3rd film in the series. In fact I enjoyed these so much that I am planning on reading the books by Sergei Lukyanenko to see what changed, and find out how it ends. These films are really visually stunning, and the FX are well done, and the story and character are excellent. This is really an impressive series, and amazing that this film was made for a mere $4.2 Million US! And even the subtitles are done graphically to help tell the story! Wow!

The film opens with us being told of an ancient battle between beings with extra powers called Others, who fight for either light or dark. The forces of good were led by Gessar (Vladmimi Menshov) and evil was led by Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky). Gessar realizes they were evenly matched, and so made a parlay, where the set up a truce, forming the good Night Watch and the evil Day Watch to maintain balance, until the day a Great One will come and chose a side and tip the balance of power.

In 1992 in Russia a man named Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky) went to a woman who practiced black magic, to try and get his wife back who was cheating on him. The woman tells him she is pregnant by the other man, and the fetus must be aborted to bring her back. Aton accepts responsibility and she starts, and Anton sees his wife leaving the man, and then writhing in pain on the ground, but then 3 people rush into the room, including a shape shigter and capture the woman, and Anton sees them, and they realize he must be an Other as well, and just didn’t know it yet. We then jump 12 years ahead, and Anton has joined the 3, and is now a member of nightwatch, but he is an alcoholic, and lives in squalor. He is set to hunt a female vampire who is using the voice to take a child, but he is out of blood to be able to see, so he gets his friendly vampiric neighbor Kostya (Aleksei Chadov) to get his some blood (pigs blood) from his father. The father does it, though telling Kostya, that Night Watch people only do that to hunt Vampires.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Mongol by Sergei Bodrov (1997)

I have been dying to see this film since it came out last year, and was up for the Academy Award for best foreign film, and finally got to see it on it’s release in Los Angeles, and was blown away, even being the second Ghenghis Khan film I have seen this year (the other people the mediocre Japanese Gengis Khan to the ends of the Earth and Sea). This film is gorgeous with a fantastic cast, a good script and an amazing story. Really one of the best films of the year, my only real complaint being that Khan does rely somewhat on the will of the gods for his victories, and I don’t believe that such a great warrior would have left it to that, but the scenes do work in this film. Amazing that a Russian filmmaker made a film in Mongolian with two amazing actors, but one from Japan and one from China who did not speak the language. Wow, what dedication on so many people’s parts. The cinematography is spectacular and epic, though you should note that the battle scenes are filmed very shaky (my fiancee and her sister had to close their eyes), but it still looks fantastic. I liked the film so much I ordered a couple of books on Gengis Khan so I can learn more about his story (or at least what is known). I am hoping they do a sequel to this film, as this film doesn’t even really get up to him being Khan, and it wasn’t until after that he conquered all of China.

The film starts with the man who would become Genghis Khan, Temudjin (Asano Tadanobu) locked in a cell, and receiving word from a Chinese monk, that the old Monk who went looking for his wife died so he did not find her.

We then go back in time to Temudjin’s childhood (here he is played by Odnyam Odsuren) who goes with his father the Khan of their tribe to get him a wife at age 9. They are going to get one from an an enemy tribe, where the Khan stole his wife from many years before to heal the wound, but on the way they stop at a friends tribe who is weak, and Temudjin falls for a girl named Borte (Bayertsetseg Erdenebat) and makes the declaration to declare her his wife to be, who he will return for in 5 years. On the way back Temudjin’s father is poisoned, and dies, and when they return to the tribe, an arrogant man takes over the tribe and is going to kill Temudjin when he gets older, as he is too small now, but Temudjin manages to escape. He heads to the mountains to talk to the gods but falls in a lake, and is helped by Jamukha (Amarbold Tuvshinbayar)
and the two become sworn Blood brothers. Jamukha wants to become Khan of all Mongols. The young Temudjin has a very hard time, being captured and escaping for much of his young life.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky (1972)

I got this film around the time that the remake of Solaris came out, but saw the remake and really didn’t like it at all. And then I tried watching the first adaption (from a Novel by Stanislaw Lem), and didn’t get through 20 minutes. Well lately I have been watching a lot of Kurosawa films, and those are all 3 hours, so I thought I would give it a try again, and I was not disappointed. This is an incredible film, and while it was billed as the anti-2001 a Space Odyssey I don’t really see that. Yes it is more about emotions and delving into yourself than 2001, but still seems a close relative at the least. The sets are amazing, and much of the film is told in very long shots, and I would actually be interested in seeing Donatas Banionis in other films because he was excellent. It is so cool to see such an amazing science fiction epic coming from some place other than the US, and even more impressive with it’s look into the human soul that it came from Communist Russia. Strangely the film jumps back and forth from Black and White and color, which at first I thought had some meaning, but really couldn’t find any in this, maybe a money saver after spending so much on the sets?

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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