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Reviewed September 19th, 2001 by David Nusair


You know, itís movies like Guardian that give straight-to-video movies a bad name. Itís cliched, boring, badly acted, confusing and for a so-called action movie, itís surprisingly lacking in action.

Mario Van Peebles (he went from directing critically-acclaimed films like Panther to this?) stars as a U.S. soldier on an overseas mission. One night, a bunch of psychos start shooting up a camp heís been assigned to protect. In the midst of the bullet-flying melee, a baby is kidnapped. Years later, it turns out that said baby is now the key to Armageddon. Van Peebles must ensure that the kid is protected from various evil forces, while occasionally making time to kill miscellaneous bad guys.

This is a pretty terrible movie. Despite some good actors (Van Peebles, James Remar), Guardian is just the sort of flick youíd expect from something that debuted on video. But lately, thatís changed. Some very good movies have made their premieres on video (Panic and Things You Can Tell By Looking at Her being two recent examples). Despite that, though, renting a movie that never made it to cinemas is still a crapshoot. But the general rule of thumb has always been avoid anything with Eric Roberts or Casper Van Dien, and you should be okay. Now, itís a little trickier.

Not that Guardian looks that great from the box or anything, but the premise is decent (if a little hackneyed at this point; how many end-of-the-world flicks do we really need, anyway?) and the cast isnít terrible (besides Van Peebles, thereís Remar Ė a character actor best known for scene-stealing roles in big-budget action movies), so by all accounts, it shouldnít have sucked this hard. But it did. Credit the director and the low-budget for that. The movie just looks cheap. Early on, thereís a sequence set in the Middle East, but itís clearly a set. And the special effects that pop up towards the end of the picture are about as convincing as Corey Haim pretending to be a girl.

Skip Guardian. Itís not worth the time it takes to go rent it, or the energy youíll expend sitting restless in your chair.

Audio: Whereas the movie pretty much sucks, this DD 5.1 audio soundtrack is surprisingly active. That scene near the beginning where terrorists shoot up the camp is a great example of this. Bullets will whiz by you, and all the while, youíll hear the sound of this baby (whoís location keeps changing). This is a solid track.

Ditto the transfer. Presented anamorphically at 1.85:1, this transfer initially seems as though itís subpar (the opening scenes seem awfully grainy), but as the movie progresses, that graininess seems to vanish. There are a lot of dark scenes in Guardian, and this transfer handles them all with ease.

Extras: A full-frame trailer.

Conclusion: Guardian is about as entertaining as a root canal.


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