Guardians (2017) poster

Guardians (2017)



Russia. 2017.


Director – Sarik Andreasayan, Screenplay – Andrey Gavrilov, Story – Gevond Andreasayan & Sarik Andreasayan, Producers – Gevond Andreasayan, Sarik Andreasayan, Vladimir Polyakov & Aleksey Ryazantsev, Photography – Maksim Osadchiy, Music – Artashes Andreasyan & Gregoriy Zheryakov, Visual Effects – Argunov Studio (Supervisors – Alexey Andreev, Anton Borisov, Roman Dryagalin, Dmitry Grigoriev, Vladimir Kozhekin, Kirill Kulakov, Anna Moskovkina, Artem Ostapenko, Slava Sexton, Alexey Slinkin & Ruslan Timerbaev), Production Design – David Dadunashvili. Production Company – 12+/Production Enjoy Movies/CF Cinema Fund Russia/Renovato Entertainment/Argunov Studio/Big Cinema Film Company.


Anton Pampushnyy (Arsus), Sanjar Madi (Khan), Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan (Ler), Alina Lanina (Kseniya), Valeria Shkirando (Major Elina Larina), Stanislav Shirin (August Kuratov), Aleksandr Kommisarov (Professor Viktor Dovenravov), Vyacheslav Razbegaev (General Dolgov)


A group of Russian military are assembled to deal with the threat of August Kuratov, a scientist from the former Soviet era. Kuratov originally designed the Patriot program to create super-powered soldiers. After the program was shut down, Kuratov conducted a series of illicit genetic experiments on ordinary people, as well as created Module One that allows the control of any machinery. As the military came to shut him down, Kuratov blew up the lab but was caught in the accident, which served to fuse his body with Module One. Kuratov has now invaded a military demonstration and taken over an armada of tanks to march on Moscow. There he physically removes one of the tallest buildings. Major Elina Larina is put in charge of reuniting the subjects of Kuratov’s experiments to stop him. These include:- Ler, who has the ability to transform his body into rock; Khan, a speedster; Arsus who can transform into a human-bear hybrid; and Kseniya who can become invisible. Together the group are sent into action to stop Kuratov as he plans to activate an old Soviet space weapon.

Russian fantastic cinema has become one of the most exciting genres in the world since Timur Bekmambetov revolutionised it with Night Watch (2004). The 2010s have been filled with some extraordinary works in the genres of horror, science-fiction or often intersections between the two – horror/sf or dark fantasy. For a more detailed listing see Russian Cinema.

Sarik Andreasayan has become one of the most prolific Russian directors since the start of the 2010s, mostly working in comedy. He has also made the genre likes of Pregnant (2011), a comedy about a pregnant man; the death games film Mafia: Game of Survival (2016); Robo (2019), a children’s film about a cute robot; and the mini-series Chikatilo (2021-2) based on the true-life Russian serial killer. He has also produced a number of other films, mostly comedies but a couple of genre works including Deadly Still (2016), Coma (2019) and the tv series Hello, It’s Your Time (2022).

Guardians was a considerable hit in Russia, less so internationally. Sarik Andreasayan hits on the simple idea of taking the basics of the Superhero Film as per the MCU. The film distils all the tropes of the genre – the assemblage of the team of superheroes, their heading into action against a vast overwhelming threat, their need to power-up to defeat the menace. Andreasayan gives this a uniquely Russian spin – the heroes were created during the heyday of the Soviet era and the villain is a mad scientist from a former Soviet military program who is seeking to turn a Cold War satellite into a weapon.

Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan), Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), Kseniya (Alina Lanina) and Khan (Sanjar Madi) in Guardians (2017)
The Guardians – (l to r) Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan), Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), Kseniya (Alina Lanina) and Khan (Sanjar Madi)

The superheroes are nothing terribly original in conception. Khan is a Flash-like speedster outfitted with a really cool-looking set of blades; Kesniya’s invisibility powers make her a variant on Fantastic Four’s Susan Storm/Invisible Girl; while Arsus’s animal transformation ability resembles something of other animal transforming superheroes like Beast Boy or Manimal. Ler’s ability to transform into rock is something I haven’t seen before, although his final form resembles Ben Grimm of The Fantastic Four. Valeria Shkirando, who is the Nick Fury equivalent among the group, bears a surprising resemblance to Scarlett Johansson.

The only disappointment is the villain Kuratov who has an interesting power – of being able to control machinery. On the other hand, the character is simply a hulking body with mechanical parts. Here it feels as though the film has missed the opportunity to depict his genius intellect and create a Super-Villain nemesis worthy of going up against the group. Certainly, Kuratov is set up is a fine opening in the midst of a battlefield demonstration of new tanks before these are turned against the watching military in their bunker and Kuratov walks off with the tanks in tow like a pack of tame dogs.

Guardians does nothing to reinvent the wheel or break the tropes when it comes to the superhero film. What it does do is offer a solid run through of the basics. In particular, Sarik Andreasayan does a fine job with the superheroics and visual effects. There is some fabulous effects scenes with Kuratov organising the dismantling and transport of an entire Moscow tower building. Andreasayan builds everything to a fantastic climax with the various heroes going up against Kuratov, employing their powers in battles across a narrow bridge between towers and some epic effects clashes. In fact, you suspect that Andreasayan would have no problem at all being hired on for one of the MCU or DCEU films.

Trailer here

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