Starring: Sebastien Sisak, Sanzhar Madiyev, Alina Lanina
Director: Sarik Andreasyan
Running Time: 89 mins
Guardians (Защитники) is a Russian film about four superhumans from the Cold War era who are called upon once again to rescue the world as an evil cyborg sets upon plans of global destruction.
I can’t say that I was expecting all that much from this movie, but I was shocked beyond belief when I saw how truly awful it is. Save for a small positive with regards to visuals, Guardians is a film completely lacking in the basic foundations of a good movie. Its screenplay is utterly horrific, the characterisation is non-existent, the pacing is completely off, and the loud, brash action is absolutely infuriating to watch.
However, let’s briefly talk about the positives. For a film made on a $5m budget, the visual effects aren’t all that horrific. That’s not to say it’s a good-looking film; the colour palette is as bland as a Soviet skyscraper and the CGI of the man who turns into a bear looks awful. However, some of the CGI isn’t that bad, with certain characters’ powers managing to look relatively presentable and even occasionally slick.
Although that might just be because everything else about this movie is so awful. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the superhero genre, but in recent years, we’ve seen a lot of Hollywood superhero movies put a lot more emphasis on story, characters and genuine humour.
Guardians is the exact opposite: an hour and a half of things crashing into each other and then the boom sound from Inception going off every minute or so.
There’s so much that’s wrong with this film, but I’ll start with what downright shocked me: there are no characters anywhere to be seen. The film’s opening twenty minutes consists of a lady going round Russia and the former USSR and stumbling across these superheroes. But rather than an interesting or exciting opening to each character’s story arc, we get an incredibly abrupt and predictable trademark move from each of them, before quickly moving on to the next.
So, there’s absolutely no introduction to who these people with the powers actually are. But don’t worry, the screenwriters didn’t forget to put back story in entirely.
That said, if you think you’ve seen didactic exposition from Suicide Squad or the Star Wars prequels, you haven’t seen anything like this. About three-quarters of the way through the movie, the lady who recruited the Guardians walks around a room and sits down with each of them individually as they explain what their backstory is.
Apart from being a shockingly boring and unimaginative way to introduce us to the characters (as well as doing it when the movie is almost over), the backstories themselves are absolutely tedious. You’ve heard them all before, and there’s no sense of depth or emotion when it comes to the characters in the present, rendering them a complete waste of time.
So, the majority of this movie is spent not knowing anything about the people in it, and then when we do learn something, it’s a tedious and predictable introduction. In short, that makes Guardians an insanely boring movie.
But that’s not it, because on top of horrific writing, the film is full of poor performances and bad directing. The fantastic four heroes are anything but, as all of the actors give wooden and seemingly disinterested performances that add no sense of fun to proceedings, whilst the various supporting actors are no better.
The film is also structured horrifically. We’ve already talked about how they leave the character set-up to near the end, but the pacing and development of events is absolutely all over the place. From the pointless and abrupt opening act, the film continues in a series of bursts of random action, only to go back to some people in a control room discussing random stuff.
Yes, Guardians is action-packed. Yes, it has superheroes. But those two are totally lost without any sort of structure to the film. Also, the acting is horrific across the board, it’s a visually dull affair, and there’s no story or characterisation whatsoever, and that’s why I’m giving Guardians a 1.9 overall.
And then there’s the bad guy. He’s basically a Bane rip-off with electricity coming out of his hands and he controls rolling droidekas and other things like that.
Don’t watch this movie.