GUARDIANS 2 (2017) - Review : Dj Mack

Guardians (Защитники AKA Zashchitniki) is a 2017 Russian superhero movie directed by Sarik Andreasyan and written by Andrey Gavrilov. During the Cold War, an organization called “Patriot” created a super-hero squad, which includes members of multiple soviet republics. For years the heroes had to hide their identities, but in hard times they must show themselves again. This movie was met with an abundance of negative reviews coming out of Russia and other places around the world and with the harsh things being said about this movie I was expecting every single moment to be a total train wreck, but that was not remotely the case. I genuinely enjoyed this movie. I had fun watching this and I enjoyed the Guardians and their abilities, there wasn’t much that was entirely new to the genre but I did feel they tried to take common known super-powers and put their own unique spin on it which for me, made it more entertaining. This movie wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t claim to so I like what it achieved.
The movie has been trashed for its poorly done special effects, now while I acknowledge that the effects were not that fantastic and there were plenty of scenes where it was clear they were done with green screen, the effects were honestly not that terrible. People really do need to keep in mind this was not a huge Hollywood big budget blockbuster, this was a Russian film with a budget of $5.4 million US dollars, Iron Man alone had a budget of $140 million. So for what this movie had to work with I thought they did a pretty good job, I’ve certainly seen movies with far worse special effects, movies like Sharktopus or The Covenant (not the Alien movie) which had some of the worst effects known to man, but again that comes down to budget. There were still certain special effect scenes that were actually really good, I felt the best were the inside of Patriot and characters Kseniya played by Alina Lanina and Khan played by Sanjar Madi. When their abilities were displayed on screen they looked the best, I enjoyed how they depicted Kseniya’s invisibility and her contact with water as well as how they showed Khan’s speed and both of their fighting styles. Where the special effects started to get weak was Ler played by Sebastien Sisak and his earth controlling ability, it did look more on the fake side though I did feel a twinge of nostalgia when they gave him a rock formation move which was very reminiscent of one of Toph’s defensive combat moves in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He however does improve in the second half when he is given a tactical weapon to use to his advantage which looked more impressive. The worst special effects sadly goes to Arsus played by Anton Pampushnyy, his ability to turn into a werebear and a full blown bear looked 100% fake and just a little awkward as at times the effects on him stood out from the rest of the scene.

The characters who were given fight scenes such as Khan but mostly Kseniya did them fantastically, in fact I wish they were given more fight scenes because the choreography was really good and fun to watch. Lanina is agile, fast and has great moves, I could have watched her take on soldiers for days. The journey of these heroes and their abilities is a very typical one for heroes, it starts off with them all being gathered together once again not only to stop an evil genius but at the same time get revenge as the evil genius Avgust Kuratov played by Stanislav Shirin was the man who experimented on them and ruined their lives in the first place. Naturally they fail rather quickly but that is to be expected in all hero movies. They lose the first part, regroup and improve in the second and kick butt in the third. However, the kicking butt in the final act could have been a lot better. I don’t understand how a guy who now has super strength and a machine that allows him to control machines is somehow winning against an invisible martial arts expert, a super speed martial arts and weapons expert (whose sickle swords are strong enough to slice through a jeep), a man who can bend earth and has an extendable chain of rocks linked by an electric energy that he can manipulate and even make into a shield and a guy who can turn into a strong ass bear. It doesn’t make any sense for them to lose so easily. People mentioned plot holes. Frankly I didn’t see any, but in all honesty the subtitles I had were positively dreadful and did make the overall story a tad hard to follow so if there was a plot hole found in the dialogue I have no idea what it is. While the subtitles were in English they were not accurate English, it was as if whoever made the subtitles was using Google Translate. I found myself trying to translate the translation through the entire movie, which at times was impossible to do. Some words were even left out and replaced with “,,,,” as if the person couldn’t find an English translation for the word so they left it out altogether which made the entire sentence unintelligible. The only discrepancy I could find in the film was centred around Arsus. When he would take his werewolf form he still had a human physique, so he still had his cargo pants on, when he then changed to his full bear form the pants ripped off and were gone. But in the next scene when he is back to werebear form his pants and boots are back on and fully intact, then once again the takes bear form and they are all ripped off his body but then 5 minutes later he is re-emerging fully human and with his pants and boots once again in one piece. I don’t understand why it was so hard to maintain continuity for this one small aspect of the movie.
A very smart thing this movie did was how it used its character Mayor Elena Larina played by Valeriya Shkirando. While she is the official overseeing the Guardians and the Patriot operation now she is not only a skilled fighter (which we learn in a post-credit scene) but she is sympathetic and compassionate towards the Guardians. She feels horrible for what was done to them and wants to help them, so she becomes how the audience gets to learn more about each character. These characters are damaged and not likely to sit around a camp fire telling their war stories, so the movie uses Elena, she provides a shoulder and an ear for each character. A chance for them to unburden themselves and confide in someone, and in doing so we are able to understand them better as people and where they have come and how they fit into the story. I don’t think this movie is anywhere near as bad as people said it was, I found it very entertaining and a sequel is in the works. The ending set up a sequel very nicely and I am looking forward to seeing it. Was this perfect? Certainly not, but it achieves what it set out to achieve and it entertained me which is what a movie should do. To those who claim Guardians is an Avengers rip off, that statement is both inaccurate and ignorant. People seem to be under the impression that only Marvel or DC can produce superhero films and anyone else who does is ripping them off. That is absurd to the extreme. Comics don’t own the concept of superheroes or people with abilities saving the world, they own the characters they create and that is it. I found no similarities between this film and the Avengers what so ever. We have a group of people who were experimented on during the Cold War and turned into superhumans, turned into weapons to save their country which they never wanted to be. Each character shares one ability in common which is none of them age, a side effect of the experiments that has ruined their lives. This movie isn’t ripping anyone off, it isn’t copying anyone. You can’t even say they ripped off certain powers, because if that were the case every film, tv show or book is going to get sued. As I said I enjoyed this and I am looking forward to the sequel, so for all the reasons above I give Guardians a rating of 3.5/5 crystal balls.

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