Guardians (film)

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Guardians
Zaschitniki film poster.jpg
Guardians promo poster
Directed by Sarik Andreasyan
Produced by
  • Sarik Andreasyan
  • Gevond Andreasyan
  • Vladimir Polyakov
  • Max Oleinikov
  • Nikita Argunov
Written by Andrei Gavrilov
Starring
Music by Georgiy Zheryakov
Cinematography Maksim Osadchiy-Korytkovskiy
Edited by Georgiy Isaakyan
Production
companies
Distributed by Turbo Films
Release date
  • February 23, 2017 (2017-02-23)
Running time
89 min
Country Russia
Language Russian
Budget $5.4 million (320 million RUB)
Box office $4.6 million (273 million RUB) [1]

Guardians (Russian: Защитники, translit. Zashchitniki) is a 2017 Russian superhero film[2] directed by Russian-Armenian filmmaker Sarik Andreasyan and starring Sebastien Sisak, Anton Pampushnyy, Sanzhar Madiyev, Alina Lanina, Valeriya Shkirando and Stanislav Shirin.

The film tells about a team of Soviet superheroes created during the Cold War. The team includes representatives of the different nationalities of the USSR. Each of the protagonists' superpowers reflect the strengths and traditions of the people of the USSR.

Guardians was met with strongly negative critical reception in Russian media.[3] The movie debuted at the top of Russian box office; however its gross quickly dropped,[4] and Guardians is believed to be a box office bomb.[5]

The film was released by Shout Factory on DVD in the USA on September 5, 2017.[6]

Plot[edit]

During the Cold War, a secret organization known as "Patriot" gathers a team of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of many selected individuals throughout the former state's territory, in order to defend the homeland from superhuman threats. The team includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union and allegedly implies restoration of former USSR. Arseniy, codenamed Ursus (Anton Pampushny), can change into a huge, incredible strong bear-man. Temirkhan, codenamed Khan (Sanjar Madi), has super-speed and wields a pair of curved swords. Lernik, codenamed Ler (Sebastien Sisak), has the ability to control earth and stone. Finally, Xenia (Alina Lanina) has the power of invisibility and can transform her body into water.

The program succeeds where a second program called Module-1 fails. This prompts Professor August Kuratov (Stanislav Shirin), creator of Module-1, to flee to the remote wilderness, away from Soviet authorities, to continue working on his experiments. When the military is summoned to arrest him, he bombs the Patriot laboratory, surviving because he was covered with some chemicals. He rebuilds his damaged body making himself into a cyborg. This gives him the power to generate electricity and control machines. He also created an army of clones of himself, and sets out to prove to the world that he is a genius. After the explosion, Arsus, Ler, Khan, and Xenia go into hiding for years.

In the present day, several walking robots used in a training exercise turn against their supervising officials and kill them. This leads to the Ministry of Defence holding a meeting and deciding to revive the Patriot organization under the leadership of Major Elena Larina (Valeriya Shkirando) and to locate their missing super agents. She finds Ler spending his time meditating in the Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia; Khan living on the steppes of Kazakhstan; Ursus in a remote cabin on the Putorana Plateau in northern Siberia; and Xenia performing stunts in a circus in Moscow. Their first task is to raid Kuratov's laboratory within an old factory, but they are captured.

Kuratov offers the Guardians a chance to join him but they refuse. This angers him and he keeps three of them trapped within a magnetic force field and injures Ler. He later goes to a military facility at Noginsk to take control of the tanks and other vehicles stationed there. Using them, he launches an invasion of Moscow and makes preparations to use the Ostankino Tower and the Federation Tower for his Module-2 Projec. He intends to transmit a signal through an old Soviet satellite, which will then be sent to every other satellite orbiting Earth, and use it to seize control of all technology in the world. He uses a force field to protect his beacon-tower and destroy several jet fighters that are sent to stop him. When a collaborator within the Russian military, Major-General Nikolai Dolgov, asks Kuratov for a reward for his help, Kuratov strangles him to death.

While Ler recovers, he reflects on the fact that his superhuman abilities prevent him from aging normally. He has stayed the same age while his wife and grandchildren have grown older and passed away. At the meantime, Major Elena frees the other team members from Kuratov's laboratory. She sends Kuratov's former rival to study one of Kuratov's clones. Unfortunately the real Kuratov releases poison gas to kill him. Arsus and the other Guardians are trained in the Patriots' facility and are given suits and weapons.

The Guardians go to Moscow: Xenia and Ursus advance through the streets, Ler defeats several soldiers patrolling an underground car park, and Khan uses an airplane to try to fly above Kuratov's force field. The three Guardians enter a shopping mall, and cross an iron bar linking it to the tower-beacon, but are attacked by more of Kuratov's troops. Khan jumps from the airplane and slices the pipe, causing Kuratov's troops to fall.

While the other Guardians figure out a way to destroy the power source for Kuratov's beacon, Xenia touches the power source and injures herself, temporarily disabling the beacon's transmissions and causing the force field to collapse. The Guardians battle Kuratov on the platform, but fail to defeat and kill him. As the guardians leave on a grappling rope hanging from an airplane, Kuratov's beacon interferes with the plane's controls. Khan cuts the grappling rope linking them to the falling airplane and they land to a river.

As they swim to a road, they consider going back to Kuratov's beacon to destroy it and kill Kuratov, but Major Elena arrives and commands them not to. She tells them that as superhumans, they can also pool their energy and release it as a blast, but doing so can be fatal. The Guardians touch each other and generate a blast of energy that damages Kuratov's tower, causing Kuratov to fall to his death. Major Elena says that, while Kuratov boasted that he created the Guardians, they really created themselves.

The Guardians recover, rendezvousing with Major Elena on a bridge in the rebuilt Moscow. Although they choose to go back to their normal lives, they also consider continuing their service to the Patriot organization. In a post-credits scene, Elena is seen attacking a soldier after his truck stops. When she questions the soldier, he tells her that "Ferrum" has sent him as part of an unspecified mission.

Cast[edit]

Landman. He is armed with earth manipulation abilities, and is able to control and levitate rocks, dust and soil in his vicinity, or cause them to orbit him. He can even summon rock onto his body, covering himself in rock to make an exoskeletal armor to physically enhance himself. Along with his abilities, he is armed with a small chain with a large rock cemented on its end, which he can use as a type of flail. Like the rest of the team, he was given a special costume to increase his effectiveness and abilities, as well as an extendable chain of rocks linked together by electric-like energy that can be manipulated by him and used as a whip or be curled into a shield. Ler became a hermit after his family died of old age (his wife, daughter and even grandchildren); meanwhile he remained youthful due to his superpowers.
Wildman. Ursus (Latin for bear) is a type of berserker or werebear, and has the ability to transform himself into a large bear, though he can control how much of his body is transformed and can transform partially if he wills it. This transformation ability can allow him to seamlessly alter his size, bulk and musculature and transform himself into a burly humanoid, as well as use his transformations to physically augment his physical abilities, resulting in his having superhuman strength and bulletproof durability. He has multiple phases of transformation due to his ability to partially transform. His phases can make him physically a hybrid between bear and human, such as giving him the head, paws and bulk of a bear while keeping the shape of a man. He can use his superhuman physicality to fight, especially when he is in full bear form. With this, no normal person can physically overpower him, and he is immune to their strength. Desperate, loyal and determined, he is known for his drive to "break the enemy into small pieces". Like the rest of the team, he was given a special costume to increase his effectiveness and abilities. Part of this costume's equipment is a hand-held mini-gun and its battery pack, both of which are harnessed to his torso for battle, while he carries them on his back when fully transformed. Even while not transformed, he is shown to be strong enough to wield the large weapon and its power source. Ursus fears losing control of his powers and someday transforming into a bear without being able to return to human form.
  • Sanzhar Madiyev as Khan (found in southern Kazakhstan)
Windman. Masterfully skilled with all kinds of blades, as well as with many kinds of martial arts. Along with other blades, he is primarily armed with twin, crescent like blades, each of which resemble a scimitar, scythe or sickle and can be joined at the hilts to form a double bladed weapon. His strong blades can slice through the metal of cars with enough force and without going blunt or being damaged. He is also physically augmented, possessing a degree of superhuman strength that allows him to smash through brick walls with a single punch and send men flying through the air with his attacks, as well as superhuman mobility that gives him acrobatic and gymnastic capabilities and the ability to effortlessly dodge and evade attacks, even gunfire at point-blank range. He also possesses inhuman speed, enough that he almost appears to teleport. Using his speed requires him first to focus hard, achieving a meditative state that causes his eyes to turn completely white and allowing him to perceive faster than any human can. While in this state, he sees everything as being in slow motion while he, himself, moves at normal speed, or somewhat faster. Whenever he moves in this state, a black gaseous trail appears behind him to outline his movements. His strength and speed allows him to generate enough force to slice a car and anyone in it in two with his blades. Like the rest of the team, he was given a special costume to increase his effectiveness and abilities, as well as a grappling line mounted on his wrist. He volunteered for the Patriot proyect because he wanted to be "invincible" and stop living out of the shadow of his sister (who was a better martial artist), but after gaining his powers he lost his temper during combat with his sister, killing her.
  • Alina Lanina as Xenia (found in Moscow)
Waterwoman. A skilled acrobat, gymnast, and martial artist, She has the ability to move on water as if it were solid ground, as well as to seamlessly floating through it as it if were air. This gives her higher mobility in water compared to the fastest, or most maneuverable sea creature. She cannot feel temperature differences and can survive in an airless vacuum, which allows her to survive underwater without any negative effects. She can also transform her body into a clear, transparent liquid, which allows her to become gelatinous and viscous, allowing her to flow like liquid, while being able to physical touch and interact at the same time. In this form, her body becomes silhouetted and nearly featureless, with her hair disappearing and the only features on her being her the shape of her ears and nose. She can even use this form to become invisible, while she also wears a special costume designed also become invisible with her and allow her to project her invisibility onto objects or people that she touches. She has amnesia and don't remenber anything prior 1978, so at first she don't recognises Lar, Khan and Ursus when they contact her.
  • Valeriya Shkirando as Major Elena Larina, the head of the secret organization, codenamed "Patriot".
  • Vyacheslav Razbegaev as Major-general Nikolai Dolgov. He gives Major Larina the order to assemble the Guardians but is a ploy of Kuratov, who wants them in his side. Kuratov kills him after he is no longer useful to his plans.
  • Stanislav Shirin as August Kuratov.
Main antagonist. Owns a machine named "Module-1" which allows him to control any technical equipment by generating electric-like energy. This mechanized exoframe-like harness enhances his physical abilities to the point where he can overpower physically superhuman opponents, such as Khan, a fully transformed Arsus or Ler/Landman, while the latter is using his rock exoskeleton. Kuratov decides to build his own army of clones in order to capture Moscow, in preparation to control the whole world. He later attempts to use the Ostankino Tower and the Federation Tower as a beacon to transmit his commands to an old Soviet nuclear satellite, and use it to control every other satellite orbiting the Earth and thus control all technology.

Production[edit]

Filming[edit]

Filming began on April 27, 2015, in Moscow while the casting process was concluded earlier that year. Filming was continued in Moscow Oblast and in the Crimean Peninsula, and was wrapped on July 14, 2015.

Reception[edit]

The reception of Guardians was overwhelmingly negative. The film was almost universally panned in Russian media,[3] such as Meduza,[7] Afisha[8] Rossiyskaya Gazeta,[9] Mir Fantastiki,[10] among others. It was mainly criticized for having a derivative plot, bad acting and direction, cheap CGI, plot holes and overall low quality. Critics outside Russia were only slightly kinder to Guardians; however, the reviews in Times of India,[11] Birth Movies Death[12] and Mid-Day.com[13] were negative.

Box office[edit]

Guardians was released February 23, 2017, on a public holiday in Russia, Defender of the Fatherland Day. On its first day, the movie grossed 83 million RUB,[14][15] and 213 million RUB in first four days, below early expectations, but still at the top of the weekend box office.[16] On its second weekend, Guardians box office dropped 90% down to 21 million RUB, and fourth place.[4] The gross kept dropping by 90% every weekend, and Russian media[17][18][19] presume that Guardians became a box office bomb.

In July 2017, Enjoy Movies, the production company behind Guardians, filed for bankruptcy,[20] while Cinema Foundation of Russia, which provided part of the budget, sued the company, demanding return of the investment.[21]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel, Guardians 2, has been approved, with Turbo Films, the Chinese distributor of the first film, as a co-production company.[22] It will reportedly be partially shot in China and have some Chinese characters.[23]

After the failure of the box office and negative reviews of the film and the declaration of bankruptcy Enjoy Movies, the director of the first part of the film, Sarik Andreasyan said that the continuation will still be, stating also that with their team they are discussing "Who from the superheroes will die" [24].

References[edit]

  1. ^ Box Office on kinopoisk.ru
  2. ^ Brown, Todd (10 August 2015). "Russia gets a superhero team of their own with "Guardians" (Защитники)". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Рецензии на фильм Защитники / Zashchitniki (2017), отзывы". Критиканство. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Кассовые сборы в России и СНГ за уик-энд 2 – 5 марта, 2017 - Новости | Кинопортал Кинобизнес сегодня
  5. ^ ""Защитники": история одного провала". Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Shout Factory Bringing Russian Superhero Flick Guardians to Disc - THE HORROR ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE". THE HORROR ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE. 2017-06-28. Retrieved 2017-07-01. 
  7. ^ "Фильмы на неделю: патриотические (и ужасающие) "Защитники", а также "Джеки", "Тони Эрдманн" и "Слишком свободный человек" — Meduza". Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  8. ^ ""Защитники" Сарика Андреасяна: наш ответ Говарду-утке". Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  9. ^ ""Защитники" Сарика Андреасяна: насколько это плохо". Российская газета. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  10. ^ ""Защитники" — идиотическая четвёрка - Кино - Мир фантастики". 24 February 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  11. ^ "Guardians - The Superheroes Review {2/5}: Stay home and do a Marvel marathon instead". The Times of India. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  12. ^ GUARDIANS Review: Russia’s Underwhelming Avengers | Birth.Movies.Death.
  13. ^ "'Guardians: The Superheroes' - Movie Review". Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  14. ^ "Предварительная касса четверга: "Защитники" уверенно выиграли в национальный праздник". www.kinometro.ru. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  15. ^ Касса четверга: «Защитники» стартовали на уровне отечественных «миллиардеров» — Новости на Фильм Про
  16. ^ Кассовые сборы в России и СНГ за уик-энд 23 — 26 февраля, 2017 — Новости | Кинопортал Кинобизнес сегодня
  17. ^ "Бокс-офис РФ: "Логан" рвет конкурентов". 7 March 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  18. ^ Григорьева, Таисия. "Эксперт рассказал, как спасти российские "ответы Голливуду" от провала в прокате". Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  19. ^ "Следим за судьбой картин. "Вурдалаки" в пролёте, "Защитники" пикируют - Nalin.Ru". www.nalin.ru. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  20. ^ Компания Enjoy Movies приготовилась признать себя банкротом — новости на КиноПоиске
  21. ^ Фонд кино потребовал 51 миллион рублей у продюсеров «Защитников»: Кино: Культура: Lenta.ru
  22. ^ Kozlov, Vladimir (February 23, 2016). "Russian Cold War Superhero Film to Get China Release Under Import Quota". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 
  23. ^ Ryan, Fergus (January 16, 2017). "China, Russia Team up to Take on 'The Avengers' with Communist Superheroes". China Film Insider. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  24. ^ Sarik Andreasyan and the team are discussing the sequel to the "Guardians"

External links[edit]