Director: Sarik Andreasyan
Cast: Sebastien Sisak, Anton Pampushnyy, Sanzhar Madiev, Alina Lanina, Stanislav Shirin
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment and Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 9 March 2017
Synopsis: Set during the Cold War, a secret organization named "Patriot" gathered a team of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of four individuals, in order to defend the Homeland from supernatural threats. The team includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union, while each one of them have long been hiding their true identity. In hard times, they settled down to business and gather to defend their homeland.
If you watch Guardians in mute mode, I bet you can’t tell the difference between this Russia-made superhero movie and a Hollywood one. Guardians adhere heavily to Hollywood’s tried and tested formula right from the start that you probably wonder why the filmmakers even bother to make one since Marvel’s Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four are exported round the world.
In ought to be the barest and unoriginal of all superhero plots, a team of Soviet superheroes dubbed “Guardians” are assembled by army Major Elena (Valeriya Shkirando) to fight against a mad scientist named August Kuratov. Kuratov who also created the guardians during the cold war are out to control the world with his army of clones. The guardians were once normal human beings but their DNA and body are altered to possess superhuman abilities. Ler (Sebastien Sisak) has the power to control stone and soil. Ursus (Anton Pampushnyy) has the ability to transform to a bear. Khan (Sanzhar Madiev) armed with deadly blades has superhuman mobility and lastly Xenia (Alina Lanina) who can seamlessly make herself invisible.
It’s not just the story that is predictable and uninteresting but the characters are poorly developed as well. We sort of knew Ler has outlived her only daughter, Khan accidentally killed his beloved brother and Xenia for God knows why has lost her memory. Besides that, Ursus seems to develop a soft spot for Xenia. Other than this small chunk of mandatory information to fill up the screentime, audiences are left hanging without a decent origin story or backstory of these onscreen heroes.
Furthermore, there’s hardly any interaction between the four let alone charm and witty humour to make audiences root for them. They are there simply to band together to deal with the bad guy. This could be the Russia version of Guardians of the Galaxy, a team of ragtag heroes coming together with their power and charm to save the world but it never materialized. Other than mad scientist conquering the world, there’s nothing else we know about our main antagonist though we are pretty keen on how he got his terrible makeup effects.
While the editing is occasionally choppy and scripting is weak, the feature actually boasts serviceable visual effects for a non-Hollywood movie. The couple of fight sequences between the clone army is moderately engaging but the climatic battle inside a towering transmitter feels rushed and devoid of any creativity. The various main cast members who are apparently unknown to our local audiences are generally well cast and I must say they did a marvelous job despite the missteps.
Directed by Armenian director Sarik Andreasyan (who also did the awful American Heist), Guardians is a newly conceived superhero movie that lacks a good origin story and creative soul. Two factors which made the first Iron Man and Doctor Strange so alluring. It’s still an amazing feat consider the scale and budgetary however what Sarik and his team need is to desperately up the stakes on the character and story development for the sequel. Of course, for better or worse, there’s a hint for a second outing, the army major has located more Guardians.
(More of a bootleg version of a Marvel movie. Watch this only if you develop superhero withdrawal symptom)
Review by Linus Tee