GUARDIANS caught my eye from the Russian trailer and was confirmed as something of interest by a few images that snuck out just before the first English-subtitled trailer dropped. Since then, it’s been a long wait to get a copy with decent English subtitles (I loathe dubbing – I dislike missing the original vocal nuances).
This film has been touted as ‘superhero noir’. The sleeve notes for the UK release are even more dubious (misguiding, to put it politely). If you want a trite label, I’d go with ‘superhero dour’. This is what AVENGERS would be without the humorous interludes and trite byplay. Surprisingly, it works.
This is an origin movie done in medias res style. We join things several decades after the actual events that started the situation covered by the film, opening on the reappearance of the main threat. Then we witness the response and (re)formation of a superhero group to meet a threat beyond the ability of conventional forces to handle. Their backgrounds are sketched before their new dynamics are tested. After that, we get a little depth for each member before we’re off again to stop the bad people from getting their way.
Given what had to be delivered, I’ll give them credit for dealing with getting the information across without overly dumping it on us. The CGI is good, bar a few ropey moments (mainly related to perspectives), but has several superb scenes as well.
GUARDIANS is a good film with a straightforward plot, underserving of the negativity it has attracted. In a world of superhero cinema largely dominated by the MCU, this film has a different pace, coping with a task closer to that of SUICIDE SQUAD than THE AVENGERS, and doing so with a refreshing aplomb.
The Blu-ray edition of the film is a competent affair with no visual issues and solid audio. Viewing options are English dubbed audio or original Russian with English subtitles. However, the UK release Blu-ray has no extras. At all. Not even a trailer.
Russian superheroes in a Russian-made film. No fake accents or Americanisation. It’s long overdue. You should see it and make up your own mind. It’s even got an end credits scene, hinting at more to come. I for one am hoping they get enough attention to make some sequels and/or spin-offs happen.
In case you missed it: the werebear has a minigun.
For the collectors, there are two European release SteelBooks. Unfortunately, neither come with English language options of any kind, so you’ll need to double-dip to populate your tasty SteelBook with a version of the film you can understand.
The German SteelBook (left) is a single-disc 2D BD release (I can confirm the German release is embossed/debossed on the front with a black and white motion still across the inner). The French (right) is a 2D BD and DVD combo pack.