H D - S E N S E I
A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze
Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
Gary W. Tooze
Night Watch 'Unrated' (Nochnoy dozor aka Ночной дозор) [Blu-ray]
(Timur Bekmambetov, 2004)
Review by Gary Tooze
Twentieth Century Fox
Feature Runtime: 1:54:21
Feature film disc size: 34.4 Gig (dual-layered)
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 9th, 2008
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Video codec: MPEG4-AVC
Russian: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
• Commentary with Director Timur Bekmambetov
• Subtitles 'text' Commentary (in English, French or Spanish subtitles) by novelist Sergei Lukyanenko
Extended Endings and Deleted Scenes with optional
Product Description: The forces of Light and Darkness have co-existed in a delicate balance for hundreds of years...until now. Now one of the gifted ones will come to switch sides, shattering the balance and unleashing an apocalyptic war unlike any the world has ever known...
There are very few elements to the fantasy epic “Nightwatch” that a sane, sound and rational film critic couldn’t mount a strong and vigorous objection to without batting an eye. It tells an elaborate tale of ultimate good battling ultimate evil for the fate of all humanity and it is still difficult to tell from scene to scene who is doing what to whom and why (despite containing not one, but two detailed explanatory prologues). It contains more characters, backstories and subplots than an Russian novel (perhaps not surprising since it is actually based on one) but instead of utilizing them, it prefers to jam the characters into an endless string of scenes in which they stand around reciting chunks of barely coherent exposition while things explode around them. Finally, just when you think you finally have a vague grasp on who is doing what to whom and why, it turns out that the film is actually just the first third of a trilogy and none of it is actually going to be resolved for another two installments.
And yet, despite the fact that the entire thing plays like “Highlander” without the lucid plot, I strangely found myself responding to every bit of insanity that “Nightwatch” has to offer. In a time when even the most elaborate fantasy epics are cursed with a certain timidity–they tend to devote their time and energy to slavishly imitating either the books they are based on or the other movies they are ripping off–here is a film that contains both a heedless imagination and a cheerful willingness to hurtle itself over the cliffs of common sense in order to surprise and entertain.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Night Watch is filled with some striking visuals - some more impressive than others. I found the less effects-driven sequences to be quite strong. Detail exhibited by the 34.4 Gig of space on the dual-layered Blu-ray produces an exceptional image. This is a very demonstrative improvement over the SD edition from 2006. Although this new Blu-ray supports the very dark scenes of the film with healthy shadow detail - there are still some monochromatic scenes with heavy noise - but thankfully they are few and far between. The detail is so strong at times that in close-ups the frequent blood-spattered faces reveal a less realistic visage (blood looks fake). Colors look excellent (not overly bright) without an 'enhanced' digital look. Night Watch is quite a visual feast with extensive fast edit cuts that almost infer a kind of montage cinema. Bottom like is that this transfer quality is very strong, with some minor niggles (sporadic noise) but no DNR or edge enhancement that I could detect. The majority of the time it is very crisp, clean and film-like. Top marks!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music:
If they have not been added - this is quite a slight (being offered as only the 'International version' of Night Watch). I understand they are pretty cool with blood-dripping and melting subtitle effects of varying fonts sizes, colors and positioning. I suppose it's possible that I just can't access them although I felt I tried every option available. If someone could email me with more information I'd appreciate it. So far it appears as though these subtitles are NOT available on this Blu-ray as they were theatrically.
There are a ton of musical soundtrack listings from loud hard rock (Russian) to more docile stuff. There is also original music by Yuri Poteyenko. It sounded pretty strong but I didn't note the level of dynamic separation that I was anticipating and feel it would have benefitted the film experience even further. It seems fairly solid and consistent though.
As a horror film, Night Watch, has some wildly surreal moments. As for the Blu-ray - this is an impressive transfer from Fox. The image is one of the better I've seen in the new format. Extras give a full accounting for appreciation of the film's production and those who feel they may enjoy this unusual work - the Blu-ray transfer image will certainly not disappoint.
September 6th, 2008