Many years ago, Russian scientists conducted underground experiments on unsuspecting civilians. The program was called ‘Patriot’ and the experiments, although gruesome, endowed many of their recipients with astonishing superpowers. But then one of the scientists went rogue and the program was shut down. As for the superhumans the experiment created – well – they disappeared without trace, scattering themselves to the furthest corners of what-used-to-be the Soviet Union. Except now the rogue scientist is back (looking like a cross between Batman’s Bane and the X-Men’s Magneto) and he’s got a cunning plan to control all of the world’s machines and military satellites, bringing humanity to its knees. All that stands between him and global domination are four ageless superhumans, tracked down surprisingly easily by the newly-reinstated ‘Patriot’ organisation: a man who can levitate rocks, a beautiful woman who can control her body temperature and make herself invisible, another man with two massive swords who can move at the speed of light, and a third guy who can turn himself into a were-bear and is concerned that one day he’ll be stuck inside the bear’s body for good. They are the Guardians and this film is, surprisingly, not that bad at all.
True, there’s nothing new to see here: the script is ropey, the CGI is a bit haphazard, the super powers are questionable and you don’t have to think too hard to realise the ingenious villain’s masterplan is actually deeply stupid. But there’s also a strange kind of charm to it, a sort of admirable ‘little engine that could’ determination to take Marvel on at their own game (which sometimes succeeds because Guardians is waaaaay better than the recent Fantastic Four fiasco) and a sense that everyone who was involved with this project realised they were pushing something smelly uphill so just decided to enjoy the process and have a good time. And the performances are pretty good for a film of this type (not that playing a superhero has really challenged anyone’s dramatic range) with each character getting a minute or two to show some angst and then do something ridiculously gung-ho (the invisible girl’s moment, when they attack the villain’s transmitter, is priceless).
As for the DVD, it’s a barebones disc but thankfully it does offer two ways to watch the movie: either with its original Russian audio (with English subs) or in an English dub. Choose the Russian audio: the subtitling isn’t the best and it’s sometimes impossible to read but it’s eminently preferable to the English audio track which sounds like it was recorded by an amateur theatre group sleepwalking inside an echo chamber.
The Guardians of the Galaxy don’t have much to worry about but this is definitely more fun than watching Batman v Superman again…
GUARDIANS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: SARIK ANDREASYAN / SCREENPLAY: ANDREI GAVRILOV / STARRING: SEBASTIEN SISAK, ANTON PAMPUSHNYY, ALINA LANINA, SANJAR MADI, VALERIYA SHKIRANDO, STANISLAV SHIRIN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW