I heard about Guardians some time back: in a nutshell, it’s a Russian version of The Avengers…which means that in some ways, it’s actually quite different. For one, there’s a character who turns into a were-bear. Only in Russia! Well, now there’s a new trailer out, so I think it’s time to dig a bit more into this rather unique bit of cinema that’s coming to a theater not so near you…
The Trailer: My First Impressions
Okay, this is actually really well-produced! I hadn’t expected something quite so polished, but this easily looks like the sort of summer blockbuster you’d see on our own silver screens. Bare minimum, it’s probably going to be a gloriously schlocky action-fest. What I love seeing here is the sheer degree of spectacle…but not just that! It’s very interesting-looking spectacle! There’s a man-bear! There’s this dude who controls rocks, and uses them as rock body armor and as a rock-whip! There’s a speedster with sweet-looking sickles who whooshes around and slices folks up! There’s also an Invisible Woman, and hang on this is starting to sound familiar… The villains look pretty cool–they’ve got spider-tanks, and soldiers who wear balaclavas but appear to have tons of robotic eye-sensors poking through. It’s delightfully weird.
There’s also definitely some distinctly Russian touches in the trailer, and I’m not just talking about the man-bear. An early shot features a character (I think it’s rock dude) praying before an icon of Mother Mary, Theotokos. There’s indications that the main characters are there at the behest of a menacing military commander, a potent image in post-Soviet Russia. Small details like that are an interesting contrast to the imagery found in United States superhero flicks.
Also, there’s this scene with a bunch of construction cranes and some sort of giant needle tower. Dunno what that’s all about, but it’s probably the MacGuffin.
No Longer Lost in Translation
Fortunately for us, there’s a second version of the trailer: one that was dubbed into English! So let’s see what we can learn from the trailer with English audio!
Well, now that I can understand the dialogue, well, the plot doesn’t seem to be anything special. The superheroes are being gathered together to stop a supervillain, etc., etc. I am a bit curious as to the political aspects of the film, because, well, here’s the synopsis of the film from IMDB: “During the Cold War, an organization called “Patriot” created a super-hero squad, which includes members of multiple Soviet republics. For years, the heroes had to hide their identities, but in hard times they must show themselves again.”
Because, hang on, this is a team of superheroes who worked for the USSR and then went into hiding? That’s not something you’d ever get with a United States superhero team. Natasha Romanov worked for the KGB, yeah, but an entire team that operated during the Cold War? That could go either way, honestly. Maybe it’s going to gloss over the worse bits of the Soviet regimes, or it could add a cool layer of nuance into the characters–maybe some of them feel guilty by what they did, like a certain, ah, soldier who, er, operated in winter.
Even if there’s questionable overtones, I don’t necessarily let troubling politics get in the way of enjoying a film; I have similar feelings about the wuxia film Hero, which simultaneously acts as nationalist Chinese propaganda and offers up a gorgeous visual buffet of martial arts on top of a story out of folklore. You take what you can get, I guess.
Because seriously: man-bear.