7 Guardians of the Tomb is a largely inoffensive, middling B-movie. It’d probably be more entertaining if the greatest threat was something that required more than some well placed stomps.
That’s right, the main adversary and literal Guardians of the Tomb is not some terrifying zombies or deadly predator — it’s spiders. Sure, for a decent amount of viewers, an endless horde of spiders would probably be just terrifying as flesh munching zombies but feet, rocks, bricks and fire exist in this adventure film.
Gia (Bingbing Li, Resident Evil: Retribution) learns her brother Luke (Chun Wu) has gone missing while on an expedition for their parents’ company and CEO Mason Kittridge (Kelsey Grammer) wants her help finding him. The great thing about Grammer’s career is he can appear in as many mediocre movies as he wants and X-Men: The Last Stand will always be the biggest blemish on his resume.
To help find Luke, Mason assembles a team of presumed experts in their field include first responder Jack Ridley (Kellan Lutz, The Osiris Child). I believe in Lutz. He’s an actor who has that X-factor to be a real blockbuster star. Unlike some of his peers I get why he’s had no problem finding steady work. Until he gets a chance on a legit big screen film like The Expendables 3, he’s plodding away in these lower tier films.
Director/co-writer Kimble Rendall explains Gia and Luke’s strained relationship through a series of quick cutaways and flashbacks. They play out more like a massive info dump than effective storytelling. It’s not necessary as it never really plays into the main story. Rendall and co-screenwriter Paul Staheli don’t provide some big revelation for Gia’s desperation to find her sole surviving family member. It’s just a randomly tossed backstory that doesn’t mean anything.
It’s not like Gia needed the help to gain audience support. Of the main group she’s the only one that’s A) consistently likable and B) not prone to making idiotic decisions. Sure, Jack eventually finds his way like every good scoundrel. That’s seemingly for a romantic subplot with Gia that Rendall and Staheli seem unsure if they want to develop. The meaningful glances and occasional hand holding indicate more than two adventurers trying to survive. Shane Jacobson’s Gary provides the comic relief with a 50/50 hit rate. Some jokes work and others come off far too forced.
Rendall finds better success once the group finds its way in a cavern and starts setting off various death traps. 7 Guardians then starts to take on more of a National Treasure or Tomb Raider feel. It’s probably not coincidental that Gia has a Lara Croft style outfit and hairstyle. For the most part the special effects are passable. Nothing looks especially cheap even if it lacks a big budget coat of CGI polish.
The spider attack effects are the big instance where the action scenes don’t truly hold up. There’s only so much Rendall can do to make them exciting or menacing.
7 Guardians of the Tomb is probably going to be one of those films you’ll like marginally more or less depending on your mood that day. It’s not awful as far as B movies go, but it never quite manages to become entertaining enough to warrant a recommendation either.
Rating: 5 out of 10
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