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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: NIGHT WATCH / DAY WATCH (Updated & Complete)



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#1 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 06 2008 - 07:59 AM

UPDATED! Reviews of both discs are now included. The plots of these two movies are so closely intertwined that it is impossible to describe the second one without major spoilers for the first. I tried to get around this by reviewing them together. I hope you'll bear with me.

M.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#2 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 06 2008 - 08:18 AM

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Night Watch (Blu-ray)

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox (Fox Searchlight)
Rated: Unrated (theatrical rating: R)
Film Length: 114 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Codec: AVC
Audio: Russian DTS-HD MA 5.1; English DTS 5.1; French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, English SDH
MSRP: $39.98
Disc Format: 1 50GB
Package: Keepcase
Theatrical Release Date: July 8, 2004 (Russia); Feb. 17, 2006 (U.S.)
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept. 9, 2008


Introduction:
As long as humanity has existed,there have been Others among us.

Thus begins director Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch, the first homegrown blockbuster in the
history of Russian cinema and, at the time, the highest-grossing film in Russia's history, topping
Star Wars, Titanic and Lord of the Rings.

Based on the first of a series of popular fantasy novels by author Sergei Lukyanenko, Night
Watch
gave Russian audiences something they'd never seen before: cutting-edge filmmaking
from a populist director, but with a story firmly anchored in a contemporary Russian landscape
featuring characters and scenery that the audience could recognize as uniquely their own. Before
Night Watch, Russian audiences who wanted "modern" entertainment at the cinema had to settle
for American imports.

Small wonder they flocked to theaters--and they kept coming back. Bekmambetov became an
overnight sensation, ultimately making a successful U.S. debut with this year's Wanted.
Meanwhile, Fox quickly acquired Night Watch and proceeded to release it around the world in
the "international version" featured on this Blu-ray release.


The Feature:

One of the hurdles for a first-time viewer of Night Watch is that it assumes an entire world for the
Others, but it never stops to give the viewer a complete overview. (Bekmambetov says in his
commentary that this is deliberate, and that we're meant to experience the film as "the tip of an
iceberg".) The prologue explains that the Others include witches, vampires, werewolves and
sorcerers. It tells of an ancient battle between the "dark" Others that torment humanity and the
"light" Others that oppose them. When neither side could win the battle, a truce was struck. The
central tenet of the truce is that every Other would be free to choose between the dark and the
light. But legend tells of a day when one great Other would come whose choice would shift the
balance forever.

In the meantime, though, things must carry on. Each side forms an enforcement squad to monitor
the opposite side's compliance with the truce. The light Others form the "Night Watch" to police
the dark ones. The dark Others, of course, form the "Day Watch".

The action then shifts to Moscow in 1992, where a young man named Anton is visiting a local
witch to help him win back his wife from another man. It's clear that Anton doesn't really
believe in witchcraft, but he's desperate enough to try anything. While it would be a shame to
spoil the stunning sequence that follows, let's just say that by the end of some surprising
encounters, Anton learns a few things, including the fact that sometimes witches are the real
thing. And he finds himself recruited by the Night Watch.

Some years later, we find Anton helping the Night Watch track a young boy, Yegor, who is being
lured to the slaughter by vampires in violation of the truce. The hunt takes Anton into the
Moscow subway--with swooping, rushing visuals--where he encounters a young woman,
Svetlana, from whom he receives bizarre visions of a vortex. When Anton reports this to Geser,
leader of the light Others and head of the Night Watch, Geser fears that Svetlana may be the
harbinger of an ancient prophesy foretelling the apocalypse.

The rest of the film concerns Anton's alternating efforts to save Yegor and to find Svetlana and
stop the apocalypse. To assist Anton, Geser assigns him a partner, a stuffed owl named Olga who
transforms into--well, you'll have to see for youself. All the while, Anton's efforts are being
closely monitored by Zavulon, the rakish head of the dark Others, and Geser's ancient foe. As
befits the head of the dark forces, Zavulon heads an empire devoted to pleasure and
entertainment, and he lives amidst wealth and splendor, in contrast to the crumbling decrepitude
that we see in the rest of Moscow. His chief lieutenant is a lovely and ruthless pop star named
Alice (played by a real Russian pop star, Zhanna Friske). At the conclusion of Night Watch, it is
Zavulon that Anton must confront on the roof of a Moscow apartment building, with an
unexpected outcome.

It would spoil the fun to give away any more of the plot of Night Watch, but one of the things
that makes it work is the performance by Konstantin Khabensky as Anton. Khabensky was
already well-known to Russian audiences from his role on TV as a heroic cop, but here he's
playing a sad-sack who's always a few steps behind everyone, including the audience. (There are
key points you'll figure out long before Anton does.) What kind of loser works for the Night
Watch but thinks he can stay friends with the dark Other vampire who lives in the apartment next
door? Still, no matter how clueless, clumsy and depressed Anton may seem, Khabensky manages
to keep him likeable. Even when he's puking blood as a ruse to get away from the regular
Russian police (or maybe he just can't hold his blood), he's somehow a winning presence. He may be a
loser, but he's a good soul, and one has to hope that counts for something against a prince of
darkness like Zavulon.

Director Bekmambetov borrows liberally from many sources, but he puts his own stamp on
everything. Night Watch is a constant visual surprise, even if it's just a matter of editing rhythms.
There's a sequence of hand-to-hand combat with vampires that relies mostly on make-up and
old-fashioned wire work, but it's truly thrilling. Other sequences, like the apartment roof that
suddenly transforms into a medieval battlefield high above Moscow, rely on CGI wizardry
similar to that used so effectively in Lord of the Rings, which is all the more impressive when
you consider that there was no such thing as a Russian CGI studio when Night Watch was made.
And Zavulon's powers, which are varied and mysterious, are just plain creepy.

An additional note: The version of Night Watch on this disc is the "international" version
released worldwide after Fox acquired the film, not the version originally shown in Russia.
Bekmambetov points out many of the changes in his commentary, and it's clear that he's entirely
comfortable with them. There's a list of them at IMDb, but I am not providing a link, because the
list has many spoilers. Some of the changes are a simple matter of accessibility (e.g., in a
sequence where a character is watching TV, replacing an old Russian cartoon with scenes from
Buffy the Vampire Slayer--a nice touch); others were intended to streamline a plot that was
obviously a challenging one to convey through the compressed medium of subtitles. I wouldn't
mind seeing the Russian original someday, but I doubt it will seem that much different.
Bekmambetov is such a supremely visual stylist that I can hardly imagine a few nips and tucks
would significantly alter the rich world he's created here.


Video:

Let's get the bad news out the way: This version of Night Watch does not include the innovative
English subtitles specially designed for the U.S. release. Those titles took advantage of digital
technology to integrate subtitles into the film's visual fabric. Large stretches of dialogue had
standard white subtitles, but at key points the titles would take on a different character. Thus, the
vampire's "calls" luring Yegor to his doom were translated in red letters that would dissolve into
droplets of blood. Dialogue occurring in "the Gloom"--the alternate reality that only Others can
enter--would vibrate and pulse, like the Gloom itself. Shouted dialogue might suddenly explode
into large letters that would jump across the screen. Even ordinary subtitles would dissolve and
wipe in subtle ways that better conveyed speaking patterns than subtitles usually do.

The regular DVD of Night Watch had a "clean" version of the film on one side with an English-
dubbed soundtrack, but the other side had a version with the special English subtitles "burned in"
on the video master and the original Russian soundtrack. Because these special titles can only be
presented in that fashion, and because Fox presumably did not want to have to create more than
one high definition master, the Blu-ray of Night Watch presents a "clean" version with a
variety of choices for player-generated subtitles, including English. This creates some incongruities
with the special features, which I'll address below

Now the good news: The image is exquisite. Black levels, contrast, color and detail are all
exceptional, and on my 72" screen, I did not see any indication of DNR or edge enhancement.
Bekmambetov and his team went to great lengths to construct a densely detailed, everyday
reality, so that the fantastical elements erupting into the middle of it would seem even more
strange, and the transfer on this Blu-ray lets you see every scrap of paper and speck of dust.
Indeed, at times I saw too much. During the bravura CG sequence where a rivet bursts out of the
exterior of a plane and plummets through the sky, down a chimney and into Svetlana's
apartment, I really didn't need all that detail on the hordes of cockroaches the rivet sent running.
(The rivet lands in Svetlana's coffee, which she wisely empties into the sink.)

To take a less yucky example, when Yegor is first lured by the vampires, he's at a swimming
pool. We see him climb out, and then there's a breathtaking pullback showing a gorgeous
swimming complex at the edge of Moscow. On the DVD, you go, "OK, it's big", but on the Blu-ray, you
really have a sense of the enormity of the complex, as well as of the landscape beyond,
where Yegor is heading. With Blu-ray's ability to reveal the full detail of such an image, you're
struck both by its beauty and by the menace as this small boy vanishes into a huge landscape.

So, even without the fancy subtitles, this is a superb presentation of a film that is a non-stop
visual treat. It's the version I'll watch from now on.


Audio:

Here, too, a triumph. The lossless DTS-HD MA Russian track is enveloping and active, whether
it's a medieval battle scene, a Moscow subway ride or the Gloom with its ample population of
mosquitos. The aural palette of Night Watch is as variable as its imagery, ranging from
completely naturalistic (with all the attendant ambient sounds) to silence, or just music, or just
one key sound. Whatever it is, the lossless track delivers. The soundtrack on this Blu-ray is richer
and more detailed than what I remember hearing in the theater. And in direct comparison to the
DD track on the DVD, which was very good, the improvement in fidelity and detail is truly
startling.


Special Features:

Only a few of the special features appeared on the original Night Watch DVD, but it is obvious
that many were prepared at the same time. Many are in standard definition. Items marked with an asterisk
appeared, in whole or in part, on the previous DVD.

*Commentary by Director Timur Bekmambetov. This is the same commentary (with a
caveat noted below) that appeared on the original DVD. Bekmambetov speaks very good
English, but he strikes me as someone who thinks more in images than in words. Still, he
manages to provide interesting background on the story, his approach to filmmaking, his
colleagues and his influences. He also points out some of the changes to the international version
and identifies, for an American audience, some of the particularly Russian touches that remain
(e.g., the brand of lemonade used by the witch that Anton visits, or the type of truck used
by the Night Watch). The commentary was recorded while Bekmambetov was doing post-production on
the sequel, Day Watch, and he still sounds bemused and somewhat overwhelmed by the success
of his film.

But there is one important difference from the original DVD. Bekmambetov recorded the
commentary while watching Night Watch with the "special" English subtitles, and from time to
time he commented on them. Those portions of the commentary have been quietly excised from
the Blu-ray.

*Subtitle Commentary by Novelist Sergei Lukyanenko. This commentary by the author
of the original novel is included only as a subtitle stream. It reads very much as a translation of
spoken comments while watching the film. Lukyanenko points out many places where the film
diverges from his novel (the changes are substantial), but he is obviously not unhappy with them.
At the same time, he doesn't hesitate to say so when he thinks the film got it wrong (he
particularly doesn't like Bekmambetov's visual concept of "the Gloom"). What makes
Lukyanenko's comments especially valuable is that, as the author of the novels, he knows the
entire world of the Others--or, to borrow Bekmambetov's phrase, he knows the part of the
iceberg that's underwater. As a result, he's able to provide insights into the characters and their
behavior that extend beyond the film.

*Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Timur Bekmambetov (28:42). There
are seven deleted scenes, of which only one--an alternate ending--appeared on the standard
DVD. The remaining six are likewise alternate versions or extensions of scenes that remain in the
film. One of them is of particular interest for showing the ultimate fate of a character whose
status is left somewhat unclear in the film as it currently exists.

*Night Watch Trilogy (3:27). A short look at the planned sequels, with emphasis on Day
Watch
(or Night Watch 2, at it was originally known).

Making of Night Watch (39:03). A much more in-depth and interesting behind-the-scenes piece,
in Russian with subtitles. It includes on-set footage as well as interviews with
various actors, notably Konstantin Khabensky (a/k/a Anton).

Characters, Story and Subtitles (5:06). This one is painful. Although the disc's producers
remembered to eliminate Bekmambetov's commentary on the special English subtitles, they
nevertheless included this featurette that not only talks about them extensively, but also includes
examples
, so that you can see exactly what you're missing. How's that for adding insult to
injury?

Comic Book Still Gallery (8:44). This is a series of graphic novel panels, in Russian with
English subtitles, that fills in the backstory of several minor vampire characters who appear in
the film. The images are in black, white and red, and they're lovely. My only complaint is that
there's no information about the artist, the author or the date of publication. One can't tell
whether the images were created before or after the film, or whether there was any participation
by the author of the original novel.

Poster Gallery. A series of Russian posters for the film. I would love to have any of them
to hang on my wall.

Trailers. The disc includes trailers (in high definition) for Night Watch and Day Watch.
Also included are trailers for additional Fox titles: The Fly, Alien vs. Predator, Man on Fire,
From Hell and Sunshine.

D-Box Coding. For those of you with the appropriate hardware.


Final Thoughts:

If you're a fan of this film, or even if you're not but have heard about it, it might be
tempting to pass on this disc and wait until Fox puts out another version with the "right"
English subtitles. Given that home video is all about double-dipping, that may even happen.
But I doubt it'll happen soon, and Night Watch is here now, looking and sounding terrific.
It's important to remember that the film came first; the fancy subtitles were an afterthought
created for an American market that has been notoriously resistant to subtitled cinema.
This is a case where the tail shouldn't wag the dog. As a fan of the film, would I buy this
Blu-ray? In a heartbeat!


Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player (DTS-HD MA decoded internally and output as analog)
Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)
Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough
Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier
Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears
Boston Accoustics VR-MC center
Velodyne HGS-10 sub

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#3 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 06 2008 - 08:19 AM

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Day Watch (Blu-ray)
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox (Fox Searchlight)
Rated: Unrated (theatrical rating: R)
Film Length: 146 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Codec: AVC
Audio: Russian DTS-HD MA 5.1; English DTS 5.1; French DD 5.1; Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, English SDH
MSRP: $39.98
Disc Format: 1 50GB
Package: Keepcase
Theatrical Release Date: Jan. 1, 2006 (Russia); June 1, 2007 (U.S.)
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept. 9, 2008

Tamerlane: I shall control the fate of the world...
Zoar: But you can't even control your own fate.
 

Introduction:

Night Watch was originally conceived as the beginning of a TV miniseries, then reconceived as
the first part of a movie trilogy when its producers realized the breadth of director Timur
Bekmambetov's vision. But when the first part of your trilogy succeeds on such a grand scale,
and a major media company comes calling, plans have to change yet again. The decision was
made to take the third installment (now in pre-production) onto the international stage. So the
second film, Day Watch, was rewritten to accommodate all the material that had originally been
spread over two movies. Since much of the footage had already been shot simultaneously with
Night Watch, this was no small task.

The result is BIG. The international cut of Day Watch that Fox released worldwide and now on
Blu-ray is half an hour longer than Night Watch, and it's still about 18 minutes shorter than the
Russian original. (Here, too, a list of changes can be found at IMDb, but I recommend not
reading it until after viewing the film.)

The Feature:

Even though it is only part two of three, Day Watch brings to a close all of the plot elements left
open in Night Watch, which ended on a cliffhanger. For that reason, it is almost impossible to
describe the story without major spoilers regarding both films. But certain elements can be
described generally.

We pick up with Anton some time after the events of Night Watch. He is still working for Geser,
leader of the light Others, only now he has a new trainee: a familiar face from the first film. On
what is supposed to be a routine assignment, they unexpectedly encounter another familiar face
from their earlier adventures, who leads them on a chase into the Gloom, but into a new level
unlike any we've seen before--a level where most Others cannot go. This is one of the
many signs throughout Day Watch that the stakes have been raised.

Meanwhile, Anton has become intrigued by a historical legend involving Tamerlane, the 14th
century Mongol warrior who claimed to be descended from Genghis Khan and conquered much
of central and western Asia. In a prologue, we watch Tamerlane lead his armies in an assault on a
massive fortress surrounding the mystical Chalk of Fate, said to hold the power to rewrite
destiny. In the story as we see it, Tamerlane acquires the Chalk after a fierce battle, but is it just a
story? Anton hopes it isn't, and he begins searching for historical records that might lead him to
the Chalk. At one point, he even breaks into the archives of Night Watch (he has other reasons to
do this, but it would take too long and give away too much to explain them).

Meanwhile, Zavulon, leader of the dark Others, for reasons of his own, sets out to frame Anton
for breaches of the truce between dark and light. Anton spends much of Day Watch fleeing the
supernatural authorities. His colleagues at Night Watch do what they can to help him, at one
point switching his body with that of a female colleague.

One of the people hunting Anton is Zavulon's lieutenant, Alice, now known as "Alisa". But in
Day Watch, we discover that Alisa is in love with Zavulon and is feeling taken for granted. In
one of the film's signature sequences, Alisa, after being told that Zavulon is too busy to see her,
refuses to take no for an answer, jumps her sporty red Mazda off the road, races across the long
wall of Zavulon's hotel-fortress, plunges through a window, careens down the hall and crashes
into the ballroom that serves as Zavulon's office. (The seeds of many of the effects in
Bekmambetov's Wanted can be seen in this sequence.)

Alisa's issues with Zavulon are a typical example of what distinguishes Day Watch from the
previous chapter of the trilogy. Where Night Watch was propelled irresistibly forward, Day
Watch
takes the time to explore relationships between the characters, both romantic and familial.
The film is especially interested in father-son relationships, whether real or surrogate. Because
the canvas is so much broader, the tone of Day Watch is often lighter, sometimes almost comical,
especially during the body switch. At times, the film has the jaunty feel of something like The
Fifth Element
(though it looks nothing like it).

But Bekmambetov hasn't forgotten what we're there for. Everything and everyone comes
together at a massive party held by Zavulon where, quite literally, all hell breaks loose and
Moscow suffers devastation worthy of anything in the films of Spielberg, Emmerich, Cameron or
Roger Corman (the last one being a filmmaker Bekmambetov has specifically said he admrires).
There is a marvellous sequence with a ferris wheel that I'm certain is a direct homage to
Spielberg's 1941.

I don't think it gives anything away to say that, by the end of the film, Zavulon and Geser are
once again opposite each other, much as they were when they first negotiated the truce between
the light and the dark at the beginning of Night Watch. But where they are (and when) may
surprise you. They look like two Russians, but they reminded me of the Old Testament God and
Satan bargaining over Job. The battle between light and dark is eternal.


Video:

As befits the film's wider canvas, Day Watch was framed at 2.35:1 and is so presented on this
Blu-ray. The film's color palette is also considerably more varied than that of Night Watch,
ranging from the muted browns and tans of the wintry Tamerlane flashback to the lush greens of
a tropical fantasy sequence (shot in Jamaica) and the gaudy decor of Zavulon's party. The
transfer on this disc is every bit the equal in quality of the transfer for Night Watch, rising fully to
the challenge of each scene. Detail is excellent, even in dark scenes, and this permits full
appreciation of the artistry of the CG wizards who created the apocalyptic conclusion. Again, I
saw no indication of DNR or edge enhancement.


Audio:

Another spectacular DTS-HD MA track, with immersive sound and numerous directional effects.
The sound designers clearly had a lot of fun. At various moments, low tones emanate from the
LFE channel for no apparent reason except to signal the presence of something otherworldly. An
early scene when Zavulon is enraged (the start of the scene plays during the end credits of Night
Watch
) is an assault on your ears, if you play the film at reference level. And when the projectiles
that are the weapon of the apocalypse start whizzing around the room, duck!


Special Features:

Since I do not have the standard DVD of Day Watch, I'm not in a position to compare the list of
special features. However, from what I have read, the list appears to be the same, even though
many of the special features on the standard DVD were not listed on the case. With the exception
of the U.S. trailer, all of the special features are in standard definition.

Commentary by Director Timur Bekmambetov. Someone thought it was a good idea to
assign an American interviewer to sit with Bekmambetov while he viewed Day Watch. It might
have worked, if the unidentified interviewer were any good at the job. But he allows long
stretches to pass without asking any questions, and there are gaps in the commentary. What's
there is quite interesting. Bekmambetov talks about the relationship between the two films,
shares some stories about filming and talks about his influences. There is some overlap with the
commentary on Night Watch, but that is to be expected. One only wishes that the interviewer had
done a better job and asked better questions.

Making of Day Watch (26:08). A very professional and informative behind-the-scenes
featurette, including interviews with most of the principal cast, the producers and many of the
technical crew, as well as on-set footage

Russian Trailers. There are six of these, and it's fascinating to see how elaborate a
marketing campaign was deployed for this film. Many of the trailers contain specially written and
recorded narration from a particular character telling the film's story from his or her point of
view. It's a clever approach to marketing the film without giving away too much.

Russian TV Spots. Sixteen in all, and very short. Many of them don't even contain
footage but were specially shot for TV, often using actors familiar from smaller parts in one or
both films. They are often hilarious, and I recommend the "Play All" function.

U.S. Trailer. The only extra in HD, it is the same one featured on the Blu-ray of Night
Watch
.

D-Box Coding. For those of you with the appropriate hardware.



Final Thoughts:

As wildly entertaining as the Watch films are, they have a serious theme. Anton tells someone in
Night Watch (and I'm paraphrasing): "Be careful when you say things like 'damned' and
'cursed'. They're more than just words." The whole of Day Watch, indeed the whole of both
films, can be viewed as a test of Anton's ability to take his own advice. The melancholy that he
can't shake comes from things he said rashly and regretted even before he knew their full impact.
And once he knew it he risked everything to change it.

Has he succeeded? Zavulon and Geser are still watching.





Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player (DTS-HD MA decoded internally and output as analog)
Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)
Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough
Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier
Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears
Boston Accoustics VR-MC center
Velodyne HGS-10 sub

COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#4 of 16 Cees Alons

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Posted September 06 2008 - 08:51 AM

Quote:
So, even without the fancy subtitles, this is a superb presentation of a film that is a non-stop visual treat. It's the version I'll watch from now on.

Quote:
This is a case where the tail shouldn't wag the dog. As a fan of the film, would I buy this Blu-ray? In a heartbeat!

Thanks, Michael. Excellent review. Waiting for the other one as well, but I'm about to order both already now.


Cees

#5 of 16 Edwin-S

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Posted September 06 2008 - 08:55 AM

Just curious. Does the DVD version have the special subs? I haven't seen this but your description has piqued my curiousity now.

Edit: Whoops. Reread your video commentary. It sounds like the DVD does have the subs, so my question has been answered.
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#6 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 06 2008 - 10:02 AM

Edwin, just to confirm, yes, the DVD of Night Watch has the special subs. They had to make it flipper disc and put a different version of the film on each side.

However, the regular DVD of Day Watch doesn't have the special subs, which is why I never got around to picking it up. Figured I would wait for a sale or something. The upside is, I'm not spending as much time doing comparisons between the special features, because I can't. Posted Image

M.
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#7 of 16 Joseph J.D

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Posted September 07 2008 - 02:08 PM

I am quite disappointed that FOX didn't provide the Blu-rays with the special subtitles. They added a certain charm to the films. Their absence just takes away from the experience (such as when I watched the Day Watch DVD). It's a shame that FOX was so cheap not to include them.

Improvement in picture quality or not, I will NOT be purchasing these. I hope that future releases of these films will correct this terrible oversight......probably a very long wait, I'm sure. Oh well, I have these on DVD already. No need for me to upgrade for now.
Recently watched- Maverick(1994), After Earth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo(2009), The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug 3D, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey EE 3D, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Currently watching- Planet Earth, The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Cheers: Season 6, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, Simon & Simon: Season 3
 

"If this is to end in fire...then we will all burn together."


#8 of 16 Paul Arnette

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Posted September 08 2008 - 04:38 AM

Frankly, I thought the subtitles were the most interesting part of Night Watch. Their exclusion makes the Blu-ray Discs any easy 'pass' given Fox's catalog pricing.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#9 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 08 2008 - 06:42 AM

I very much sympathize with the disappointment at the omission of the special English subtitles, which is why I made a point of reporting this on the forum even before I'd finished viewing both discs. Frankly my first reaction when I popped in Night Watch was to write a review slamming the disc.

But 10 minutes later, I'd forgotten all about it, because I was so caught up in the film. The Blu-ray is that good. I have to report the bad and the good.

Paul, I completely agree that Fox's prices are too high, and I refuse to buy their catalogue titles when they leave out special features previously prepared and included on standard DVD. That's why I took great pains to compare the Blu-ray of Night Watch to the standard DVD, and I was pleased to see that, the subtitle issue aside, not only were all the old extras carried over, but there were also significant new ones.

Now, obviously, if the special subs are what interested you most about these films, these discs aren't for you. If you're like me and consider them among the first rank of fantasy films of the last twenty years or so, well . . . see above. Posted Image

M.
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#10 of 16 Paul Arnette

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Posted September 08 2008 - 08:06 AM

Michael, I really appreciate you making the subtitle issue known. I wonder if it wasn't a matter of the special subs being added at some stage after the HD master was created and Fox didn't want to expend the resources to properly replicate them with Java coding?

I wasn't too enamored with Night Watch when I rented the DVD way back, but if you consider 'them among the first rank of fantasy films of the last twenty year or so' perhaps I will at least give them another try as a Netflix rental.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#11 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 08 2008 - 08:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Arnette
I wonder if it wasn't a matter of the special subs being added at some stage after the HD master was created and Fox didn't want to expend the resources to properly replicate them with Java coding?
I wondered about that, but I just don't know enough about BD-J (or BD-Live) to know whether it could handle such a task. I suspect it would take a lot of processing power, probably more than is found in the average Blu-ray player.

M.
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#12 of 16 Cassy_w

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Posted September 08 2008 - 09:20 AM

Is there a foreign BD release somewhere that has the special subtitles? Doubting it, but I can ask, right?
Death to PG-13! And now death to DVNR too!!

#13 of 16 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 08 2008 - 09:28 AM

I have never seen either of these films, though have heard
many positive things about them over the years.

I was considering purchasing them both, that is, until I realized
it would set me back an almost whopping $60 for both. I'm sorry,
but these BD titles are way too expensive for me to purchase blindly.
Had they been priced more accordingly -- especially for a catalog title --
I would have bought them both immediately. I mean, I can see $28
for a blockbuster release but for a catalog title?! Sorry, but as much
as I love the people at Fox, I can't contain myself to voice my opinion
on how ridiculous these prices are. I really wanted to see these films
but the cost factor is making that prohibitive. It's no wonder the public
is not readily embracing BD yet.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#14 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 11 2008 - 02:07 AM

DVD Beaver's reviews have some nice screencaps for both Night Watch and Day Watch. I'm happy to see that Gary Tooze shares my appreciation for the superior technical quality of these Blu-ray discs.

M.
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#15 of 16 Stephen_J_H

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Posted December 30 2009 - 05:05 AM

I picked these up about a month ago for $12 CDN each. Amazing films, and while I would have loved the burned in subs, apart from the special feature contained on Night Watch, I didn't know what I was missing.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#16 of 16 Holer

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Posted January 02 2010 - 02:10 AM

These are great movies - very original and engrossing and bat-shit crazy at times. Timur Bekmambetov is a creative force to be reckoned with and the Blu transfers for both are very nice. I'm guessing Fox WON'T get around to a double dip on these films to address the sub-title issue because I don't think these films were that successful in the US, and a complete remaster is a lot to ask for a cultish catalog title. Your best luck is probably to wait for a non-US release or something and I'm sure that will be extra expensive. Just speculating.

Still, I wouldn't let that one issue deter from picking these movies up if you're a fan of the genre. They've been out for awhile now and can be found quite cheap. I think I got both for 20 bucks. Well worth it because these movies are very dense both visually and from a narrative perspective - there is a lot going on and they stand up well to repeated viewings.





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