The Russian take on the superhero genre
Guardians (Zashchitniki) (2017) 7 out of 10: The Russian take on the superhero genre is derivative and takes a lot from some American mainstays, but you know what it isn’t all that bad in a go big or go home kind of way.
Now, like most people on this side of the Freedom Curtain, I was forced to watch the dubbed version of the film. We have been down this road before. And while Guardians isn’t at the level of 2004’s Scratch: The New Sound of Terror (Ratten 2 – Sie kommen wieder!) I have more than a feeling we are losing something through the dub. The movie seems to take itself entirely seriously, so the overwhelmingly chipper American voices seem entirely out of place.
The Good: Hey it’s Russia. Not just that same square mile near the Kremlin either. Do you know what country has large oversized abandoned factories that make a great villains lair? Yes, it is Russia. There is terrific inadvertent scenery porn throughout this film.
The special effects are sound. My comment isn’t snark as they are often quite well done. Besides, there is a nice Godzilla style to a lot of the modeling here. You can tell they use scale models instead of CGI in some scenes and it is refreshing.
The plot is the same one as GoldenEye of all things but with the Fantastic Four instead of James Bond and Bane instead of Sean Bean. It scales up nicely with the antagonist getting more and crazier and the set pieces getting larger and larger till there isn’t much of Moscow left that isn’t on fire.
The Bad: Here are the powers of the Russian Fantastic Four. A guy who can throw rocks, a guy who turns into a bear, a guy who is Nightcrawler but with an Asian ninja twist, and a woman who becomes invisible when she gets wet (Insert tasteless comment here). Now on the surface, those powers sound pretty stupid. In all fairness to our Russian friends here are the superpowers of the original Fantastic Four. A man who is made of rocks, a man who can catch fire, a woman who can become invisible and a man who can stretch or enlarge any part of his body (Insert tasteless comment here).
The Ugly: Our villain is Bane. Same outfit and look he even does that break the heroes back over my knee thing. There is an homage, and there is stealing, and this was grand theft Batman Villian.
In Conclusion: Guardians grew on me after about an hour in as all the exposition and introductions were over, and I was getting used to the horrible dubbed voices. One it started to scale up on both the hero and villain side of things I was hooked.
Yes, the bear guy is silly (He turns into a bear I mean not a bulletproof or flying bear just a regular bear who has a chaingun and rides elevators and worries about his long lost love and somehow always has pants on when he changes back even though we could all see that the bear wasn’t wearing pants just a minute ago cause that would be silly.
Sure, the Russians made a knockoff version of the Fantastic Four mixed with a bit of X-Men, Batman, and Godzilla. But have you seen America’s recent efforts in the making of Fantastic Four movies? I will take the Russian version any day. (As of this writing I have not subjected myself to 2015’s Fantastic Four movie so I cannot speak with authority, but I have a feeling I have been avoiding it for a reason).