Overview: A team of superheroes must stop a madman from destroying Moscow. Turbo Films; 2017; Not Rated; 100 minutes.
And Then: There’s a popular video on YouTube in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame crash a writing class at NYU. Their main script writing advice is that between each scene you should be able to put the words BUT or THEREFORE. Otherwise, you might as well just write AND THEN. Guardians is very much an AND THEN movie.
Guardians is the story of a Cold War project known as Patriot that sought to create superhumans. When the mad doctor who created these superheroes re-emerges with super-strength and the ability to control all vehicles, the military gathers four of these superhumans to help stop him. So far, so superhero movie. The issue with Guardians is that everything happens too fast and too easily. By the time the movie hits the twenty-minute mark, we’ve had four origin stories, the appearance of a villain, the hidden superheroes being found, and the easiest recruitment scene ever put on film: each hero is approached and asked to come out of hiding to join the team and each one says yes without argument. By thirty minutes, they’ve attacked the bad guy and been captured and incapacitated. Its pace is akin to asking an eight-year-old to recount a superhero trilogy before they can go back outside and play. The movie never stops to breathe nor does it give scenes any breathing room.
Backstory: Guardians is definitely economic but at the cost of the audience never really growing to care about the heroes. The superheroes’ personalities are basically just their powers, which means you’re forced to make an emotional connection to a special effect. The movie does try to give each hero a backstory, but it is done with four very similar scenes scattered around the movie. The team’s Nick Fury is played by Valeriya Shkirando and her role is basically to, one at a time, have a scene alone with a hero in which they confess something from their past or reveal their fears to her. A vast portion of her screen time is static reaction shots as she looks on pityingly before saying something to the tune of “I’m here for you” or “I won’t let that happen.” These scenes don’t help, though, as they tend to not be connected to what’s happening or they have no consequences, such as Ursus (the man who can turn into a bear) worrying he’s becoming more of an animal. He doesn’t exhibit any signs of being more feral as a human and is quite happy to continue turning into a bear throughout the movie so what’s the point?
Overall: I would love to say Guardians is a great beer and pizza movie that you should rent and chuck on when you’ve got mates around and want to watch something a bit silly. However, while there are some fun sequences, everything feels so rushed it never connects. A big problem is that the heroes in the movie aren’t that capable. They do some cool things but mostly they’re getting their asses kicked or not being very heroic. It’s a telling sign that your script might need polishing if in your superhero movie the ending could play out exactly the same if you removed the heroes and replaced them with a soldier with a bomb.
Featured Image: Turbo Films