Lucky number 7
7 Guardians of the Tomb (2018) 7 Guardians out of 10: Biotech company headed by Kelsey Grammer searches for the secret of eternal life in an emperor’s tomb in China. But awaiting him and his intrepid explorers are CGI spiders.
The Good: I genuinely enjoy Kelsey Grammer. Now one reason is because I kind of look like him. (Same oversized head). But another reason is he is usually pretty fun to watch. He is great in 7 Guardians of the Tomb, taking his character to places one would not necessarily expect going in. He is easily the non-spider highlight of the movie.
7 Guardians of the Tomb very much resembles a dark ride at a theme park. This really works in the movies favor. Picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the entire film takes place in the booby-trapped Peruvian temple.
Now this may seem restrictive, but the focus on the one location allows Guardians to tell a simpler story within budget and other constraints. This allows it to focus on character interactions mixed with the occasional jump scare. It also allows the movie to keep both the characters and story moving forward from one booby trapped and spider filled room to the next.
The Bad: The CGI isn’t Asylum bad… But it is not really that good. Could have used some practical effects to mix it up a bit. (Some real spiders would have done wonders.) If you are not naturally freaked out by spiders, honestly, the film is not all that scary. Arachnophobes, however, are in for a treat. (Or not depending on your point of view)
There is a flashback plot with the brother and sister team that simply does not pay off, considering the amount of time spent on it. I don’t know why, but I have had bad luck with background plots in movies recently. Sometimes you really don’t need a motivation for character’s actions. They are siblings should be enough of an explanation as to why she is rescuing him and why they are not shagging afterwards. We don’t really need a washed out flashback with a hedge maze and a compass.
The Ugly: Comic relief in an action or horror film can be a tough job. Sometimes it can be so aggressively bad (Morris Chestnut in Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Red Orchid) that it ends up being my main takeaway from the movie.
Australian Shane Jacobson is not that memorable in 7 Guardians of the Tomb. But every comic relief line he says lands like a thud to the point other characters are telling him to shut up and presumably looking for ways to accidentally send him into a lava fountain or spider pit. Jacobson’s performance is a deadly combination of unfunny material poorly delivered.
In Conclusion: 7 Guardians of the Tomb does what it says on the tin. The Movie is a Chinese/ Australian co-production so you get always Chinese co-production stalwarts such as the very pleasant Li Bingbing and well known Australian stars such as…. Kelsey Grammer? Well, there is a cute redhead Stef Dawson who was in the Hunger Games series. A couple of soap actors, that comic relief I complained about…
Well, one thing the Australians managed was to keep the Chinese propaganda at bay. 7 Guardians of the Tomb paints China as a dangerous place with extreme weather, extreme poverty and deadly spiders. A stark difference from the not-so-subtle propaganda featured in many Chinese co-productions.
A fun date movie as long as your date is not Ellen Rose from Outside Extra. Arachnophobes, you have been warned.