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March 22, 2006 - Image 8

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A hard day's 'Night'

ARTS
Fox's 'Loop' lacks
By Ben Megargel
Daily Arts Writer

By Blake Goble
Daily Arts Writer
It seems that every filmmaker in
the world can get his hands on high-
octane CGI effects __........_
these days. Night
But what many of Watch
them seem to for-
get is that there are At the State
only two reasons to Theater
use CGI: economic Fox Searchlight
concerns that make
achieving comparable real-life effects
too costly, or a director's delusion that
indiscriminately hurling special effects
at the audience will make it forget
the plot. The new fantasy-horror epic
"Night Watch" embraces every aspect
of the latter.
The film, an age-old tale of good versus
evil, is the most commercially successful
in Russian history. The title refers to a
band of vampire peacekeepers patrolling
the shadowy streets of modern-day Rus-
sia, fighting to maintain a balance between
"light" and "dark." The Night Watch, led
by Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), must

fight to prevent the forces of darkness
from spreading. Countless archetypes
and clich6s are slammed together amid
the barrage of visual effects - there's a
prophecy about a child, a virgin eternally
cursed with the ability to open a vortex
and the climactic final showdown.
If memories of "Underworld" or
"Blade" emerge, it's for a reason. This
kind of vampire schlock has been done to
death. The tendency of the night creatures
to "de-fang" themselves figuratively via
peacekeeping missions and satiating fixes
of pig blood from the local butcher severe-
ly detracts from their cool factor.
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (who
is turning the film into a trilogy), "Night
Watch" is like having your eyes assaulted
by a spastic bat. There's no such thing
as too much editing in this film. It's nice
to see the American influence reaching
across the oceans; they clearly get MTV
and Bruckheimer over there.
But for all this, "Night Watch" has
some genuinely creative special effects.
Flipping trucks, veins replacing entire
flesh structures and even some cleverly
organized subtitles are just a few high-
lights. But after a while, the film becomes
so aggressively flashy that viewers may

Courtesy o fox Searchlight

Fangs. Scary.

In a halfhearted attempt to capitalize on the critical
acclaim of the recently axed "Arrested
Development," Fox dropped "The Loop" The Loop
as a midseason replacement. But the
network's perennially mediocre sitcom Wednesdays
assembly line has failed yet again: "The at 9:30 p.m.
Loop" is little more than a watered- Fox
down, inferior version of a better show
the network had a harder time pitching to audiences appar-
ently unwilling to take a risk.
The concept of young professionals juggling new careers
and their old college lifestyle sounds promising enough, but
"The Loop" chooses to recycle lame jokes in a show that
will no doubt mysteriously disappear from the schedule by
the fall. Someone's out of the loop, and it isn't us.
The show's basic premise covers the awkward transition
college grads make into their first serious job while their
friends continue to get drunk more nights a week than not.
Brett Harrison ("The O.C.") stars as Sam, a 23-year-old
working as an executive at a major airline company. His
roommates - including his slacker brother Sully (Eric
Christian Olsen, "Not Another Teen Movie") and secret
crush Piper (Amanda Loncar, "CSI: Miami") - fill out the
principal supporting roles, while the fringe parts of the large
cast go to various characters who work with Sam.
Among the most egregious offenses the show commits

any development
are the over-the-top performances, with characters coming
off more as caricatures than actual people. As if this wasn't
enough of a distraction, it also also annoyingly chimes in
with written descriptions of certain moments in freeze
frames, such as "Boss." The bludgeoning lack of subtlety or
nuance here is almost offensive.
The show's repeated attempts to follow in the huge foot-
steps of "Arrested" are completely futile - this is much
safer material brought to life by a far less talented cast. The
lone exception is Joy Osmanski as Darcy, Sam's secretary,
who deadpans about being fourth in her class at MIT and
still having to make copies and manages to emerge from the
monotonous lull that otherwise pervades the series.
Though there are a few other funny lines scattered
among the wreckage, on the whole, the show never takes
off in any original or even particularly entertaining direc-
tion. In the pilot, Sam's non-mutual obsession with Piper
drives most of the action. But the theme of "boy-who-has-
no-hope-with-the-perfect-girl" is heavily tread territory.
Who really wants to get depressed watching such pitiable
drivel in a sitcom? Even the obligatory female sexual pred-
ator who works with Sam feels like a reheated version of
Nina from "Just Shoot Me."
But what really sinks "The Loop" is its unwavering insis-
tence on appealing to the lowest common denominator. The
show attempts to be a critical darling and a brainless crowd
pleaser, but when you try to make everyone happy simulta-
neously, you will inevitably fail.
Of course, Fox shouldn't worry too much. They'll always
have "American Idol" to keep them on the radar, however
bleak the signal.

start to think they're in the middle of a
rave. Case in point: a fight near the end is
lit with a swirling fluorescent light bulb.
Did I warn of possible seizures?
The movie is a byproduct of the post-
"Matrix" generation of filmmaking. So
many other movies have been jammed
with excessive CGI that it takes away the
sense of danger and inimediacy previous-
ly achieved by real stunts. Sure, it's neat to
be able to stop an entire 3-D battle graphi-
cally to let people walk amid the chaos.
But what's the point?

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