I got a call from a friend to go check out this movie. I hadn't heard very much about it, hadn’t checked out it's trailer, didn't really know the plot, and wasn't aware it was completely in Russian until I was buying a ticket. So, needless to say, I didn’t have high expectations for this film.
Actually, I didn't have any expectations for this movie. It wasn't anti-hype, it was the total absence of hype, positive or negative. Nullhype. Hype times zero. It's the way most directors wish everyone went into a theatre... where they can actually show you a film without you already knowing who's acting in it, without knowing the plot in advance, without having seen all the best sequences in the trailer, without reading the rumours and gossips on the internet.
So I saw it. And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
The film, if you are not aware, is a Russian film, with Russian actors, and takes place in Moscow (which, by the way, is a Russian city). This gave the entire film a gritty, high contrast feel, a not-from-your-world urbanity. The editing, the shot angles, and the special effects just rolled into all that.
The standard issue self-sacrificing good versus self-indulgent evil was downplayed; subtle but well done. Our main characters had terrible apartments, standard issue clothes and vehicles, and seemed generally putting up with a lot. But it was something they needed to do. The antagonists, however, were beautiful, drove really nice cars, and enjoyed themselves. It wasn't evil for evil's sake. It was enjoying what you were. It was a different point of view.
Finally, this film wins major, major props from me for the subtitles. Not just slapping the english translation on the screen... the subtitles react to the film! They fade in and out, they slide around when nervous, they jump at you when people are screaming... they are almost a character in themselves. Wow.
I was later informed that this movie was based on a series of novels, and there are plans to make the rest of the books. Excellent. Now, I have expectations. Now, I am hyped. And it is good.