About the Author: Paul Andolina is one of my favorite people to talk movies with. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film.
Growing up obsessed with Russia, it was only natural that I would stumble upon the 2004 Russian blockbuster Nightwatch when it was released on DVD in 2006. This lead me to tracking down the novel it was based on and in turn me wishing they would release more of the author Sergei Lukyanenko’s books in English. Over the years they have consistently translated his Watch series but his other work is remains mostly undiscovered by English speaking audiences.
In 2005, he wrote a novel called Rough Draft which dealt with parallel universes. I only recently discovered it existed because of the release of the film adaptation dubbed into English by High Octane Pictures. I’m not sure if I have mentioned my dislike for movies that have been dubbed into English here on B and S About Movies but I’m not the biggest fan. I would much rather have the original language with subtitles, however, that was not an option with this screener and I wasn’t about to pass up the chance to watch this film regardless of the audio.
Rough Draft was originally released in Russian theaters in May of 2018 and made an appearance at the Seattle International Film Festival in June of the same year. Rough Draft is about Kirill, a video game designer, who after being dumped by his girlfriend, suddenly finds himself erased from all records and memories of his friends and family. He is initiated into a new position of customs officer of a gateway tower into different worlds. He oversteps the bounds of his duties and his world is yet again turned inside out by the curator and other functionals (people of extraordinary abilities).
I had not even seen a trailer for this film before getting a chance to watch it so I got to see it with fresh eyes, I read a small plot outline prior to viewing it but really had no clue what to expect. I was met with a wonderful fantasy adventure full of interesting worlds. Kirill and his struggle as the new customs officer of a strange gateway doesn’t seem like a very exciting thing to watch but this movie is packed with odd characters, fantastical settings, and some pretty cool action moments.
Kirill’s girlfriend, Anna, also plays a large part in the plot of the movie as she starts dating a functional after dumping Kirill. Her sudden appearance at his tower catches him off guard and he is motivated to try and win her back, even though she has no memory of him. Kirill is constantly testing the limits of his new found functional abilities, he becomes near immortal, although if he tries to go more than 9 miles away from his tower some nasty things start happening to his body due a strange spider like leash that he wears around his neck. As long as he drinks plenty of water though he seems to do okay even if he strays out of his legal limits.
Kirill’s insistence on trying to start a new relationship with Anna proves dangerous not just to himself but others around him as well, Anna, and her new beau, Anton, in particular. Anna is kidnapped and sent to a strange prison like world run by a female blacksmith, and Anton is dissolved after being taken past his leash’s limits. He is constantly being reproached by an android like functional named Renata, who is the one that shows up in Kiril’s apartment when he is erased, and the curator who originally watched and chose him as the new customs officer.
The CGI in this movie is great although it does seem glaring obvious at times. The English dubbing isn’t the best and at first is jarring and unsettling but I did eventually get over it. I loved the story of the film and it is quite beautiful to witness as well. The music is outstanding too. I really want folks to check out this film as if you are a fan of fantasy or science fiction films than I am sure you will find a lot to like in this film. It’s a really captivating movie. It will be available on DVD January 17, 2020 from Amazon in addition to other outlets.
DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by its PR team.