(As the editor-in-chief of Preview Magazine exclaimed when introducing this screening: “Criticize it all you like, but It has a bear with a minigun!”)
If you’ve seen its trailers (and why shouldn’t you), you know exactly what to expect when you go see Saric Andreasyan’s Guardians, or Защитники as its original title is. The producers have seen plenty of Marvel superhero films, and the assignment to Saric obviously was “give us one of THOSE”.
What we have here are four cool superheroes, banding together as a team to defend Russia, and indeed the world, from an evil supervillain. You see them do cool stuff, get beaten, and grow stronger and cooler to try and win the rematch at the end of the film.
And as long as you watch them be cool, the film is a lot of fun indeed. No expense has been spared and there are a number of impressive setpieces, especially when the supervillain starts building a super-antenna in Moscow by stacking several landmark towers on top of each other.
But, and this is a large but, nearly everything else in the film is pretty bad. All exposition is done with a deadly, leaden seriousness. Powers are used inconsistently, with the Guardians getting stronger and weaker as the sloppy plot demands. One hero can hold her body-temperature stable in all circumstances, we’re told, yet she gets frozen minutes afterwards. Wait, what? Don’t get me talking about the finale, which is decent enough until there is the mother-of-all-rabbits-out-of-a-hat-pulling to get to the desired ending.
And it’s not just that the story has problems, the execution of the dramatic moments isn’t exactly stellar either. An example: each of the four guardians gets to tell his (or her) tragic backstory, and each time this is handles in the exact same clumsy fashion, complete with sad music and surrounded by the same sad faces. The second time this happened it caused frowns in the audience, the third time derisive chuckles, the fourth time open laughter.
But hey. There’s a man who can manipulate rocks. There is a martial artist who’s as fast as lightning. There’s a beautiful lady who can turn invisible and transfer energy or something. And there is a guy who can turn into a half-bear and wield a minigun, or even turn into a full bear and become a running weapons platform. if you want to see that, and can stomach (or filter) some weapons-grade bullshit, this is your film.
I’ll probably buy it cheap in a few months, rewatch it occasionally for chuckles, and then put it back on the shelf next to D-War, in the “spectacular extravagant curiosa” section…
- Sarik Andreasyan
- Andrey Gavrilov
- Anton Pampushnyy
- Sanjar Madi
- Sebastien Sisak
- Alina Lanina