is that rare film that--likeThe Matrix
--is not only visually dazzling but creates an intriguing, seductive, and thrilling alternative world. A young man named Anton, after dabbling in black magic to bring back the wife who left him, discovers that the world is populated by fantastical Others (vampires, shape-shifters, witches, and more) who have chosen sides--Light or Dark--in an epic battle. A truce has been declared; both sides watch the other to ensure the truce is maintained. But a prophecy has predicted that a powerful Other will tilt the balance, and Anton--who is himself an Other--finds himself crucial to the prophecy's fulfillment. There's no question thatNight Watch
has weaknesses. Numerous plot holes get glossed over by pell-mell pacing, the visual conception of the apocalyptic battle between Light and Dark is curiously pedestrian (a bunch of knights fighting a bunch of guys in fur with swords--what happened to their various powers?), and more--but, much like similar problems withThe Matrix
, it doesn't matter.
The alternative world Night Watch presents is so rich with possibilities that it takes on a life of its own, both as an imaginative universe and as a vivid metaphor for the moral complexities of our own lives--for example, though the forces of Light claim to be good, their often brutal actions call their virtue into question, and the forces of Dark make some compelling moral arguments on the topic. The movie is so overstuffed with ideas ...