You have probably heard of The Asylum: American independent film company and distributor that creates low-budget knock-offs of more famous movies that feature similar names and concepts but are produced in a small amount of time in order to gain some profits due to uninterested viewers and elderly people (also known as mockbusters). Such gems include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (mock of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes), Ghosthunters (2016’s Ghostbusters), and Independents’ Day (Independence Day: Resurgence).
One might be forgiven for believing that Guardians (a.k.a. The Defenders) was another product of The Asylum, trying to cash in on the near release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. Instead, it is a Russian superhero movie directed by Sarik Andreasyan and starring a bunch of Russian actors that you have never heard of. As a fan of “so bad it’s good” movies such as The Room and Birdemic, I was genuinely looking forward to watching the adventures of the squad of Soviet superheroes. Sadly, this is just a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE movie.
The story has been told a million times before: a team of heroes is created through DNA alterations to defend the country from supernatural threats; crazy scientist turns evil and becomes a supervillain with electricity powers; the squad is assembled, at first they fail, then they learn the value of cooperation and in the end they succeed. It follows every single beat of every superhero movie ever produced, and does nothing to distinguish itself.
Our team of heroes is made up of: Ler, who can control rocks and the ground; Ursus, giant werebear with a passion for huge machine guns; Khan, master of blades who can also teleport and slow down time; Xenia, who can control water and turn invisible. All of these powers have been seen before, and they could have easily worked if it weren’t that they are never established in a clear way (both in their strengths and weaknesses), creating huge plot holes and convenient situations where they can use a superpower only one time in order to save the day. This is the product of one of the laziest scripts ever written for a superhero movie: from the beginning to the end of the film, it is a constant succession of exposition scenes (delivered with stilted acting) and action set-pieces (with set-piece, I mean either green-screen or the desert).
The lack of fun and enjoyment can also be found in what is arguably the worst aspect of this blockbuster: the visual effects. There is very little achieved practically here, with bland sets (when used) and unconvincing prosthetics for the characters (the villain looks especially fake). However, the computer-generated images are utterly unforgivable, with over-reliance on green-screen backdrops and visual effects during action scenes that make every fight look stiff. The only member of the squad that is 100% CGI is Ursus, and there are some scenes where you can see his feet and shadow hovering over the ground.
Overall, Guardians is a complete waste of time due to terrible production, uninteresting and cliched characters, poor sound design and some of the worst CGI ever produced. A strong contender for worst superhero movie of all-time because of the lack of fun that it has, and the worst movie I have seen so far this year. Yes, even worse than The Bye Bye Man.
Visual Effects: 2
Violence & Gore: 8
Sex & Nudity: 4
Drugs & Profanity: 3
Intensity & Horror: 4