Zashchitniki aka Guardians 2017
This is only the second Russian superhero movie that I’ve reviewed here on this site after the bizarrely mediocre flying car Spider-Man rip off that has nothing to do with the current CW show Black Lightning. I remember seeing the previews for it a while back and the visuals looked kind of insane. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I still think the overall visuals look great, but it really suffered from a lack of interesting characters or an interesting plot. It’s a really generic government created superpowered experiments that goes wrong and creates a supervillain intent on ruling the world. It’s a weird mix of X-Men’s Weapon X program but it’s just not interesting once you look past the special effects.
Let’s start off with the highlight of the movie which really is the special effects and overall visual feel to the movie. There are some spider tripod tanks that have amazing detail to them, one of the characters is basically a werebear slash Incredible Hulk type character that also is handled incredibly well. At least incredibly well with a single caveat. While the individual CGI character itself looks fantastic with great details, it has that subtle invisible outline that separates it from the background so that it doesn’t feel integrated into the scene. The looks of the characters themselves are also well done where the speedster character has an incredible style to him with his twin curved blades. The Invisible Woman surrogate also has a great look to her with her interesting tattoos/markings despite her power being pretty lame.
The personalities of the characters were rather dull. The Earthbender Ler who has telekinesis but only for rocks was found by himself at a monastery and basically has no personality. He gets a super suit that channels his power into an electric rock whip that can also become a shield. But he’s not the leader, he doesn’t really have any defining character traits whatsoever. The speedster Khan fares slightly better as he is introduced by going on a Wolverine-esque killing spree on the soldiers sent to capture him, though it was unclear if those soldiers were sent by the protagonist government or the antagonist supervillain. The slightly more interesting pair are the werebear Arsus and the Invisible water woman Kseniya. Arsus is a scientist and is afraid about how each time he goes full bear, it becomes harder to change back to human and he fears that he will eventually get stuck as an animal. And yet after he reveals that story element, it’s never really referred to again. He also has the hots for Kseniya who has amnesia. So much so that he’s been creepily watching over her for the past several years. Another element of the story that’s mentioned but barely relevant to the overall story is that the experiments that created the Guardians happened in the 60’s and also gave them extended lives where they are much older than they appear.
The villain of the story is another personality-less character with an odd look to him. He looks like a grotesque version of Mr. Clean with a bunch of extra Matrix-like wires coming out of him. He has enhanced strength and can control electronics and machinery just by being near them. His plan is to create a giant antennae so that he can control a powerful satellite weapon dot dot dot control the world. Somehow. He also easily defeats the Guardians during their first outing but doesn’t kill them because of course he wants to recruit them. The one character in the film that does have a slight amount of interest in them is the commander of the team who recruits and essentially leads all the Guardians, Larina. She doesn’t bring a whole lot to the operation, but she has a few moments here and there that make things interesting.
It’s just difficult to really get into this movie because so much is happening, but it’s all just so dull. There’s a traitor in the government operation, but that is dealt with pretty quickly. There’s also a mention of how the Guardians can basically pool their powers in a way that was described to make it sound like the finale of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer but ended up more like a giant glowing ball of boring. The government brings in a scientist to help do something, but he gets killed. There’s a backup plot if the Guardians fail, but it also just gets dismissed in an easy fashion. Even Kseniya’s amnesia is barely treated as a plot point and at the end of the movie she just happy ending mentions that some of her memory is coming back in a way that doesn’t really mean anything outside of an empty happy ending moment.
Besides the visual flair of the movie, there are also a handful of fight scenes that are also quite enjoyable and well done. Most of the time the fight choreography is handled the best when the Guardians are actually fighting each other, especially when they are recruiting Kseniya herself. In fact, that fight is actually more interesting than the final battle with the supervillain. All in all, it was a beautifully dull movie and even though they hinted at a sequel with even more Guardians out in the world, I wouldn’t be that interested in checking it out. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.