A fair number of decent summer films were released this year, and the best among those have already been reviewed in this column. A late entry to this list is Guardians of the Galaxy
. Judging from its trailer, Guardians had a compelling premise and promised, if nothing else, mild entertainment. But on watching it, I must admit I was thoroughly delighted.
This is perhaps because James Gunn, the director, shares a writing credit with Nicole Perlman, and both seem to have great affection for the original Star Wars films (I’m talking Hans Solo and not the now forgotten Hayden Christensen installments) that managed to combine science fiction and hokey comedy in perfect measures.
Even if you are not a comic book reader and therefore unfamiliar with the larger world of Marvel comics, you will still be pleased by the new range of characters you will meet in the Guardians.
The hitherto unfamiliar Chris Pratt who plays Peter Quill aka Star-Lord is a bit of a phenomenon in the film alternating between being an odd ball and adorable in a boyish way. Quill is kidnapped from Earth by the Ravagers and becomes a renegade under the space pirate Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). When Quill steals a much desired but mysterious orb to sell to the highest bidder, he inadvertently sets off a series of events that take him, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a ferocious assassin with a troubled past, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a feisty genetically altered raccoon, Groot (Vin Diesel) a trusty tree like sidekick, and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) across the galaxy. As they try saving the world, albeit inadvertently, we get treated to some hilarious antics.
The great charm of an origin story when it is well written is watching the unexpected development of characters. It is gratifying to watch these goofy guardians come into their own just as the unlikely friendship between them blossoms into one that lifts your spirits and becomes the heart of a film that might perhaps otherwise have spun into something too light to engage non- comic book reading adults.
Having made $553 million to date, Guardians of the Galaxy already has a sequel lined up for release in summer of 2017. In most cases I would be rolling my eyes and groaning at the usual Hollywood avarice, but this film made me feel the same kind of glee that I reserve only for the Star Wars films – the kind of happiness only the nerd-iest of us experience when we see space ships onscreen, hurtling across the starry sky set on an inter galactic adventure.