The second installment of the horror-fantasy trilogy that famously outgrossed The Lord of the Rings in its native Russia, Day Watch stages a timeless war between good and evil in the snowed-in streets of contemporary Moscow.

Edited in the high ADD style of the commercials and music videos director Timur Bekmambetov cut his teeth on, Day Watch heaps on fantastic concepts: “Light” and “Dark” “Others” duck in and out of “second-level gloom” while they try to preserve the “Truce” and hunt for the “Chalk of Destiny” and evade the “Inquisition.” “Great Others” chase each other with modified flash lights, somebody drives a car along the facade of the Kosmos Hotel, and sex change magic leads to some mild humor and a hilariously gratuitous girl-on-girl shower scene.

Day Watch sports a fast and exciting surface, but none of it makes a lick of sense. Bekmambetov seems to be making up the contradictory rules of his supernatural universe as he goes along–cardboard characters with mysterious powers can turn around airplanes in midflight and are said to trigger the apocalypse at the drop of a magic rubber ball, but there is no apparent interior logic to the mayhem. It’s obvious why the Matrix-in-Moscow aesthetic pleased Russian audiences; it remains to be seen if the inventively animated subtitles are enough to keep the American mainstream interested. Opens July 11.

Dnevnoy dozor. Timur Bekmambetov, 2006. **

The trailer: