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"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a 2005 sci-fi film which was directed by Garth Jennings, whose only other directorial role was "Son of Rambow" (2007).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 109 minutes in length and stars Martin Freeman ("The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", "Hot Fuzz", "Sherlock") as Arthur Dent, Mos Def ("Dexter", "Monster's Ball", "Bamboozled") as Ford Prefect, and Sam Rockwell ("The Green Mile", "Iron Man 2", "Moon") as Zaphod Beeblebrox.
The plot for the film reads as follows: Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
When I first heard there was going to be a film version of Douglas Adams' brilliant 1979 series and subsequent books, I was quite dubious, to say the least. With its cardboard set and obviously fake imagery, the original series was one I always loved as a kid and I did not think a movie version could have been pulled off. For this film version, Simon Jones was replaced with "Sherlock" star, Martin Freeman, and Zaphod Beeblebrox was given a complete makeover with Sam Rockwell stepping into the shoes of Mark Wing-Davey. I also did not think Susan Sheridan could have been replaced with anyone, but in Zooey Deschanel they have someone who looks just as good.
As legend has it, the idea to make a film of the series was put forward as early as 1982, when Adams sent a draft to three producers. At the same time, Dan Aykroyd sent in his idea for "Ghostbusters", and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" was shelved. Other developments have also nearly been green lit, with Hugh Laurie, Jim Carrey and Nigel Hawthorne in the frame for roles.
The film was made on a budget of between $45-50m and raked in a respectable $104,478,416 at the box office. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film begins with the narrator, Stephen Fry, giving the viewer a brief history of Earth's intelligent beings. He says that humans were only the third-most intelligent species on the planet behind dolphins, who decided to leave Earth by their own means, leaving a message which was misinterpreted. The real meaning said "So long and thanks for all the fish." The opening credits roll, and we do not hear which the most intelligent species on the planet is... yet.
I enjoyed one of the first scenes in which Ford takes Arthur to the pub for six pints of bitter before the world ends. I can't think of many better ways to spend my time if I knew it was curtains for the Earth than getting plastered for one last time, even if it was only three pints each with a friend. Ford, by the way, has an impressive trick that only some of us beer lovers have, in being able to down a pint in one. I used to do it a lot when I was younger, but the last time I bought a pint in England last year, I paid over double of what I paid for my first legal pint in 1990, so I tend to make them last a little longer on a night out back home!
The guide has plenty of interesting and amusing definitions of things people request the knowledge of, and one in particular is when Arthur wants to know what Vogons are. The reply is extremely comical but if you don't think so, read it in the voice of Stephen Fry:"Vogons are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy. Not evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as fire-lighters."
After pushing the Infinite Improbability Drive button, there comes a short scene that I thought was quite unique and very interesting. The spaceship morphs in to a number of forms, but when we see Arthur, Zaphod, Marvin, Trillian and Ford, they are all made out of knitwear. Arthur throws up in the bin due to nausea but all that comes out is woolen string, before normality ensues. It has been a long time since I watched the TV series or read the books and I do not know if that scene was in either, but I did enjoy it a lot.
I also laughed at a scene where Zaphod's ship eases towards Magrathea, and an image appears on-screen telling them the planet is closed. Ignoring the message Zaphod takes the ship further in, and the image re-appears. This time it is serious, but I thought its words were quite amusing: "It is most gratifying that your enthusiasm for our planet continues unabated. As a token of our appreciation, we hope you will enjoy the two thermonuclear missiles we've just sent to converge with your craft. To ensure on-going quality of service, your death may be monitored for training purposes. Thank you." This was obviously not present in the TV series or the books, and I thought it was a delightful addition.
There is a lengthy part where Slartibartfast is showing Arthur around Earth 2, which appeals to me because of its simplicity. We get to see Uluru (Ayer's Rock) being painted by a worker, the oceans being filled by another holding a hose, and workers rolling out sheets of grassland, before they come to Arthur's home, which is exactly the same as it was on the old Earth. I won't give too much away, but it comes to a point where Arthur kills some mice and all they can say is "Oh, bollocks!" This makes me think of two things. One, the kids of Britain were going to school after watching it, knowing full well what the word meant but saying it anyway, and two, kids of America going to school and saying it not the slightest bit clued in to its meaning. I can very much vouch for the latter, as my nephew here in the States did exactly the same thing!
Visually, the film is stunning. It has plenty of CGI-infused scenery, but it is in a good way. What they could not do with the original 1970s series, they have managed to put across in the 21st century in a big way. Douglas Adams' vision has become a reality, and the way he described aliens and their ships in his books is depicted as accurately as possible on the big screen with a huge budget. I think they overdid it with Zaphod's image, but it is probably better than the obvious fake head that he has in the TV series. The characteristics of Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) are excellent. I loved how the CGI placed his eyes underneath his glasses which stayed there, revealing black chasms when he took them off.
Bill Murray, Johnny Depp, Will Ferrell and Robert Downey Jr. were all considered for the part of Zaphod Beeblebrox, but Sam Rockwell won over Garth Jennings when he auditioned, and was given the part there and then. Beeblebrox's brash 'out there' style will have a lot of viewers liking him, but others will hate his personality and think Jennings overplays it a little too much. This might be the case, but it is also how Zaphod should be played - loud, obnoxious and confident.
Martin Freeman puts in a good performance as Arthur Dent. He's deadpan just like Arthur should be, and I think he was the perfect fit for the role. Another character which I thought was played well was Marvin the paranoid android. He was played by Warwick Davis and voiced by Alan Rickman, which made an interesting combination. Marvin's movements were captured expertly by Davis, and such a unique voice like Rickman's made it even more enjoyable.
On the negative side, I was not too convinced by Zooey Deschanel's portrayal of Trillian. Visibly she looks the part, but there does seem to be a little hesitance in the delivery of her lines. I am not sure if that is intended - it certainly doesn't seem so - and if it isn't, the director should have picked it up. Actually, now I think about it, her sister, Emily, has the same traits in "Bones", which is what made me stop watching it. I do, however, like the huge array of stars that turned out for roles in the film. Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Steve Pemberton and Edgar Wright, to name but a few.
While I do like this film, I also see its drawbacks. I have always been one to prefer to keep things in the past. For example, I hate remakes and reboots. However, the film version surprised me for its uplifting depiction of Arthur Dent et al. I will always prefer the TV series because it is what I grew up with and I never cared that the effects were not all too good. What you have here is a solid film that is worth watching, and if you've never seen the TV series or read the books, even better. I would recommend you do, though, and compare the three. For me, I think the books slightly shade the other two. For you, it may be completely different!
What the Critics Say
Empire: "Mostly harmless. A very British, very funny sci-fi misadventure that's guaranteed to win converts."
The New York Times: "Mr. Jennings and Mr. Goldsmith have held onto a genuine sense of childlike wonder, which works as a nice corrective to what might otherwise come across as an overabundance of hip."
Rolling Stone: "Go with the whimsical flow that includes a hilariously morose robot named Marvin, voiced by the great Alan Rickman with the weight of the galaxy resonating in every bored, cynical syllable. Adams would be pleased."
Washington Post: "This is a movie about improbability, randomness and absurdity. It almost goes without saying, you can't get in a panic about having everything."
Charlotte Observer: "Except for the irritating Rockwell, the cast suits the characters."
My rating: 7/10
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is based on the hugely popular book (which then became a radio and TV show) of the same name by the late Douglas Adams. The film is intermittently narrated by the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Stephen Fry) itself, telling us information about the universe mixed with a more focused plot about Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), a man who wakes up to find that his home, and in fact, all of Earth, is to be destroyed in order than an interstellar super-highway can be built there. Here he meets Ford Prefect (Mos Def), an alien who is working on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and so Arthur tries to stall the Earth's destruction, but is ultimately taken from Earth as it is blown up.
However, him and Mos Def are caught by the horrible aliens known as the Vogons, who eventually release him, where he meets alien Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), the gorgeous geek Tricia McMillan (Zooey Deschanel), Marvin the Paranoid Android (voiced by Alan Rickman, acted by Warwick Davis). Here he gets in even more sticky situations with his new band of friends, and they go on a space adventure unlike anything he has ever seen before.
Considering the hype, and worry surrounding Mos Def's performance, this film was, quite surprisingly, utterly hilarious, even if it is just a condensed version of the brilliant original. Witty in the most English use of the word, this film has bags of excellence going for it, if you don't mind engaging your brain for laughs, although die hard fans of the original might find it a little watered down.
OK, I'm going to try a little mini-review before kicking onto the main thing. This tries to get across the highs and lows I experienced with this film.
The Trailer (or my pre-film feelings)
This was IT!! The big one!! After a gestation period to rival a herd of elephants, The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy film was finally here!! This is gonna be great!! For once, the overuse of exclamation marks is justified!!
Then the film starts...
The End Credits (or my feelings on leaving the cinema)
What happened? They've taken one of the funniest, most innovative books/TV/radio shows ever and turned it into a stinking pile of unfunny dross. I want my money back.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong. It had a strong cast of familiar, if not mega-famous faces; was adapted from a screenplay written by the late Douglas Adams and had a huge in-built fan base slavering with anticipation.
On second thoughts, I know exactly where it went wrong. It was the point at which someone decided to write a Hitchhiker's film which forgot to be funny. At some point during the production process, it appears someone read through the script AND REMOVED ALL THE JOKES. It starts off embarrassingly (a song and dance routine involving dolphins singing song "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" (referencing one of the books) and goes rapidly downhill from there.
The Feature Attraction (or the main review)
OK, let's rewind. For those of you who don't know, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sees earthling Arthur Dent taken off the planet by an alien friend Ford Prefect, just before Earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The film follows his adventures as he tries to come to terms with the fact that there really are such things as bug-eyed monsters and flying saucers.
What made the original material so great was the fact that it was very funny. When I watched the TV series or read the books, I would frequently laugh out loud. With the film version, I can only remember smiling a couple of times - at parts lifted directly from 1970s materials. The rest is so unspectacularly funny it's painful.
The lack of humour exposes how weak the plot is. The plot isn't really there to make much sense, but in earlier incarnations, you were having too much fun to notice. With the film lacking any laughs, the plot becomes far more important and is exposed as actually being rather dull.
It's not helped by the fact that the film deviates wildly from the book, taking the characters on a cringe-worthy diversion to find a weapon which forces people to tell the truth. I wouldn't have a problem with changes being made, provided they were merited and worked. They aren't and they don't. Featuring an embarrassingly mis-cast John Malkovich, the middle section is pointless and, in an already unfunny film, reaches new depths of "unfunniness". The new scenes may well have been written by Douglas Adams, but they were clearly written by Douglas Adams on an off-day
The cast also fails to come up to scratch. Martin Freeman's doe-eyed innocence may have worked in The Office, but on the big screen, his lack of range is cruelly exposed. Certainly we need to laugh at Dent, but we also need to find him endearing. It never happens. Dent just comes across as a bit of a pillock; someone you would cross to the other side of the universe to avoid. The rest of the cast could have done everyone a favour by dumping him out of the nearest airlock.
Mos Def is rubbish as Ford Prefect, coming across as rude and arrogant, rather than endearingly quirky and there is zero chemistry between him and Freeman. Dent and Prefect are supposed to be good friends, yet their conversation is more awkward than that of two complete strangers forced to share a taxi.
Sam Rockwell is one-dimensional as Zaphod Beeblebrox. He seems to thing that shouting things like "wow" and bouncing around like a sugar-rush 3 year old high is somehow automatically funny. It just made me want to throw something at him. Even Marvin the Paranoid Android looks wrong - small and insignificant, as though he is trying to hide the fact that he is in this film.
The one bright spot is Stephen Fry as the Voice of the Book. He may not be quite as good as the superlative Peter Jones, but he comes close. Fry has exactly the right balance between flippancy and authority in his tone and his readings from The Book provide the film's few amusing moments. It's the one part of the film wish they had expanded.
Hitchhiker's is not without its amusing moments and there are a few moments to show you what might have been. The sequence with the whale and the bowl of petunias, for example, is still funny. Yet, it's rather telling that the few highlights there are have all been lifted from the original material and, in most cases, are still inferior to the identical scenes from the TV show. Still, you do end up being pathetically grateful for these small oases of fun in the other barren celluloid desert.
Where the film does, of course, exceed the original TV show is in the special effects. The film so looks much better and is far more convincing. Even here, though, that comes at a price. Everything is too new, too pristine, too soulless. Part of the appeal of the original was that the technology looked rubbish and often didn't work properly - reinforcing the book's central idea that technology often hinders more than it helps. By making the technology look good, this idea gets rather lost and so, once again, does the humour which Adams derived from it.
It's hard to see how Hitchhiker's Guide could be messed up so badly, but it was. A film people had been waiting over 20 years to see turned into one which I'd happily wait another 20 years (preferably longer) before watching again.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Director: Garth Jennings
Running time: approx. 109 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2009
The new adaptation to the wonderful book.
I think it is rather difficult to make a movie from such a popular book, whatever you do, people will always say, "Oh, it was OK, but the book was better", and I'll have to say, Oh, it was OK but......!
The movie followed the events of the book rather strictly, much more than most adaptions manage! Unfortunately the one and only thing they didn't quite manage to translate over was the jokes. I'm not quite sure why but the jokes worked so well in a book, but just didn't have the same impact in movie form.
The movie follows Arther Dent. A normal, everyday human whose best friend happens to be an alien. Not that he knows that. When the earth is destroyed they both manage to escape. They have several adventures in space before looking for the lost planet..
If you are a fan of the book, give it a shot. It is not bad at all, just not very funny
This review is published under the same name at ciao
OK, before you start to read, please take some time to search this in Google:
"The answer to life, the universe and everything"
Quite strange, right? Don't panic, read on :).
Released by 29 April, 2005 (USA), rank in IMDB 6.6/10
Director: Garth Jennings
Writer: Douglas Adams (book, screenplay)
Anna Chancellor: Questular Rontok
Warwick Davis: Marvin
Mos Def: Ford Prefect
Zooey Deschanel: Trillian
Su Elliot: Pub Customer (as Su Eliott)
Martin Freeman: Arthur Dent
Sam Rockwell: Zaphod Beeblebrox
Stephen Fry: Narrator / The Guide (voice)
Arthur Dent, whose house is going to be towed by an unnotified plan of path way, is the last human on Earth - and the Earth is destroyed by an alien construction team for the new path way of Galaxy. Dent is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect right millisecond before the destruction. For Dent's new life in the Galaxy, Ford gave him the latest edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", with the big word in the front - Don't Panic. Don't Panic to the Galaxy or don't panic to the book? Dent found out he is really in trouble.
Dent soon found out that, although much bigger, Galaxy is quite like Earth - its full with weird people and creatures. The specie destroyed Earth is rather bureaucracy, and them love reading poem to others, not many can stand long for it. Then they meet Zaphod the president of Galaxy by chance - very very litters chance - who has stolen the most advantage ship in the universe. On the ship, there is a depressed robot, Marvin, and another Earth survivor, Trillian. What a coincidence is, Trillian is the exactly woman that Dent fall in love with in a party, who has been pilfered by Zaphod.
Zaphod took this werid combination of people on the way to find "The answer to life, the universe and everything", which has thousands of connection with Earth - the already destroyed planet. What is the answer to this ultimate answer? Is it the one you got in Google? And, why?
It is so irritating for a scientific fan like me that H2G2 did not won an Oscar. But if you have read the original book of this movie, you will accept the fact. The book of H2G2 and following five novels are the greatest scientific fiction in the history. And its author, Douglas Adams, is among the greatest writer like Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clark. So, it would be the excuse of the movie for not being good. Yes, it is so hard to reproduce the entire brilliant story in the novel. But it is so far a good job indeed.
Before you watch this movie, you may make some preparation first. Take a large paper, write down "Don't Panic" as large as you can, paste it in front of you TV, and remember to see it during the movie :) What I mean is that although this is a scientific movie, it is illogical and unreasonable. It will not tell you 1 plus 1 equals 2, instead, according to the book of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it can be anything. And, it will make all this mess logical and organized. And, you know what, human is the third intelligent creature on Earth,and the second is dolphin.
So, Don't Panic.
*H2G2 stands for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with 2H and 2G in the title.
Tagline for this movie: Don't Panic.
Some facts about this movie:
It has won the Most Original of Golden Trailer awards at 2005, and another 6 nominations.
Thank for reading my review, wish you a good day :)
This review is copied from my blog in Today.com with minor modified.
The awful "so long, and thanks for all the fish" opening number really kills the "start" of this movie. The film is about 15 minutes in and then the Earth is destroyed and then they finally cue "Journey of the sorcerer" and the film really starts. I was almost in tears.
On the whole, the cast were well placed, I don't think Steve Pemberton tried to put anything new into Prosser which was a shame. Martin Freeman, despite the fact that I wanted so badly to hate him did a good job being his own Arthur without straying too far from Simon Jones' original characterization.
Marvins new body was iffy but the nods to the original Marvin (in the queue @ the Vogon forms office and the mic used to read poetry - it really looked like old Marvin's face). I like that the Vogons are in business suits as they are sticklers for forms and law. Very cool.
I don't think anyone truly explained the word Belgium to the performers or it wouldn't have been used where it was, very poorly. I think the gun shoot-out on Arthur's lawn was a revised version of the shooty & bang-bang galactic cops scene from the series.
The slapstick "thinking" scene on Vogsphere was dire & pointless. Trillian lent nothing new to her own role, no-one seemed to have researched Zaphod's outfit @ the Islington party where Arthur & Trillian meet. What was all this about Arthur's job at the BBC, that must have been cut as it was never even hinted at. John Malkovitch's Humma Kavula scenes were pointless, go get into a storyline that isn't concluded.
I think the DVD release will have so much to put back into the film. I get the point this was 2hrs 30 minutes long & cut badly to fit under 2 hrs. Go see it for yourself. I just wish i could go back to myself as a boy in 1979 & tell him not to bother waiting that long.
Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy began life as a radio show, before becoming a hit series of books and a 1981 TV series. It's surprising in many ways that it took until 2005 to be made into a full-length feature film. While I'd enjoyed both the books and TV series, I'm not really a cinema goer and some rather mixed reviews, combined with the fact that I had after all read the books and seen the TV series, meant I didn't bother catching it at the cinema. When it was shown on TV last Christmas (2007) however, I was quite looking forward to it.
I wouldn't call myself particularly discerning when it comes to movies. As readers of my recent Fantastic Four review will know, if it keeps me entertained for a couple of hours that's usually enough - I'm more into pop-corn flicks than great works of art or, at least, I don't demand the latter. Nonetheless, I have to say I was pretty disappointed all round with this film.
For those not familiar with the premise, the film begins with the demolition of the Earth to make way for an inter-galactic highway. Thankfully for Arthur Dent, however, it turns out that his friend Ford Prefect is not in fact from Guilford but rather an alien on Earth to write an entry for the eponymous Hitchhikers' Guide. Ford's able to rescue them both, which is only the start of their discovery that the Earth was part of greater alien plans and really mostly an excuse for lots of general silliness.
If you're a fan of HHGTTG in any of its other formats you'll already know the jokes. In fact, even if you've never consciously come across Douglas Adams before, numerous of them have seeped into the nation's popular sense of humour, rather like say Monty Python's 'dead parrot' sketch. If you have favourite jokes then most of them turn up here, despite some adaptations for the film. However, to my mind this was just about the film's saving grace - Douglas Adams' humour - and not all of it worked as well on film anyway. It'd have taken longer, but I'd much rather have re-read the books.
When I first watched the television series, I found that not all the characters appeared as I imagined, but I was able to get over it. Maybe those images have now stayed with me, so perhaps it's harsh to judge the film against those preconceptions. Nonetheless, most of the casting seemed wrong to me. (As an aside, the FAQs on IMDB point out the book doesn't say that Ford Prefect wasn't black, but admit he is described as having ginger hair...). It's hard to put my finger on it, but the acting seems like acting most of the time. I didn't find the characters at all real or believable - which, admittedly, would sometimes be hard - they seemed more like actors reading lines.
The special effects were equally bad. While there were a few things done well, Slartibartfast's workshop being one, I thought Zaphod was particularly bad and in general the standard of special effects was about what I'd expect from Dr Who rather than a big0budget Hollywood blockbuster (which this wasn't). If the film had been better in other areas, maybe some dodgy effects could've been over-looked, but to be honest they were simply another example of a film I found disappointing almost all round.
As I said, pretty much the only thing I liked was the Douglas Adams humour and, credit where it's due, I do think the guide entries (voiced by Stephen Fry) were done well. Even in the few bits that made me laugh though, I couldn't help thinking that I was really laughing at the film.
At least the humour was somewhat redeeming. For that alone, I'm giving the film 2* since I was able to sit through it all. (Remember 1* is the absolute lowest, so I'd have to save that for something truly terrible). I wouldn't regard being forced to watch this as torture, but whether or not you're new to Douglas Adams I'd say this isn't the best (or even second best) way to appreciate his work.
Duration: 109 minutes
Details from: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0371724/
~~~ Dont Panic! The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy ~~~
Written by Douglas Adams originally in the late 1970s, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy has seen many incarnations, from radio shows, books, computer games, a TV series, a towel and most recently the 2005 movie version.
The story follows the main protagonist, Arthur Dent, who is an average man in exceptional circumstances: When his friend, Ford Prefect, (an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelguese), rescues him from Earth, which is destroyed by a Vogon constructor fleet in order to make way for a hyperspace by-pass, Arthur is taken on a mind-bogglingly bizarre adventure.
Ford is a roving reporter for the galaxys best selling book, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, (which, in order to save confusion between this in-movie book and the movie itself I shall call The Guide from now on), which offers advice, useful tips and random pieces of trivia on virtual any and every subject or circumstance a hitchhiker might need to know about.
Armed with The Guide and his towel, Ford takes Arthur across the galaxy, where he encounters a host of weird and wonderful characters and situations, eventually meeting Zaphod Beeblebrox, (Fords two-headed, three-armed cousin), Trillian, (a human from Earth who Arthur had met at a party and then never seen again), and Marvin, The Paranoid Android, (who is actually more manically depressed than paranoid, but fans have often forgiven Adams for the term). Together, onboard The Heart Of Gold, they go in search of the mythical Magrathea.
~~~ The Movie ~~~
The movie is perhaps one of the longest running projects of all time, having first been discussed and worked on in the early in 1980s, it is the result of 23 years discussion, writing and brainstorming. Douglas Adams was involved in its production until his untimely death in 2001 and sadly therefore never saw his vision reach the big
Across its various versions, Adams introduced various ideas, often contradictory when compared to other incarnations. As such, there is no definitive version of the story. Even so, the movie does manage to incorporate the vast majority of ideas that most long-term fans would want included.
I originally went to see The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy in the cinema and in this setting the visuals are quite impressive. I left the cinema with mixed feelings overall and whilst I wouldnt say I thought the movie was terrible, nor was I overly compelled to purchase it as soon as possible on DVD. It was only having re-read the novel recently, that I thought Id check out the original radio-show and spotted the DVD, at a reasonable price that I decided it would be Mostly Harmless to add it to my collection.
I have to say that the movie does lose some of it visual-impressiveness away from the cinema. Although the CGI effects and animatronics are still well done, they didnt have quite the same impact as at the cinema. Now, I realise this is true of virtually any movie you go to see at the cinema; however, there are a couple of other problems with the movie that build up as the movie progresses.
~~~ Cast, The Script And Everything ~~~
The movie stars Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, Mos Def as Ford Prefect, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, Zooey Deschanel as Trillian and Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin The Paranoid Android, with Warwick Davis actually in the suit, as well as a host of other famous actors and actresses that I shall mention later in the review.
Firstly, I found the casting a little hit and miss in places. For example, Im not sure about Martin Freeman playing Arthur Dent. In previous incarnations, Dent is mild-mannered, though with moments of extreme frustration and even anger. I thought Freemans portrayal lacks the mild-mannered-ness, (is mannered-ness a word? It is now ) and therefore struggled to bring any great depth to the character. Also, I felt the chemistry between some of the main characters didnt seem all that believable.
I must say that some of the casting was superb Stephen Fry as The Guide is first rate since his voice is well suited to the part. Equally, Bill Bailey puts in a creditable performance as The Whale, (which is one of my favourite scenes and is probably the funniest part of the whole movie for myself). Also, John Malkovich plays Humma Kavula with great skill, bring a sinister and villainous quality to the role perfectly and Bill Nighly plays Slartibartfast reasonably well, though I have to say its not his best performance.
Sadly, a couple of decent performances doesnt hide the fact that a significant proportion of the acting is a little wooden in places.
I have to give credit to the actors and say that I dont believe its entirely their fault. With such a wealth of material available from Adams in previous incarnations, the script-writers have tried to incorporate as many elements as possible.
For fans of previous version this can be quite entertaining, but it does mean that certain elements are only mentioned in passing. When you actually think about the story as a whole, it is incredible complex and its no wonder that the script struggles to cram everything in.
I can understand the writers desire to include as much as possible from the Hitchhikers-Universe, but in places they feel like throw away comments and, whilst long-time fans can have the I get it! satisfaction, for anyone who perhaps isnt familiar with the material they dont really add anything to the movie as a whole and actually make it seem a little under-developed. It is worth questioning how much my previous knowledge affected my enjoyment of certain scenes, since you could argue that if you know nothing about the story, those throw-away comments Ive mentioned might not seem throw-away. Even so, there were moments that bits seemed shoe-horned into the script to try and appease fans and I think that they should either have been expanded on a little bit, or, alternatively, I dont think most people would have minded had a few references been left out here and there.
I think the movies 12-rating understandable, since their a some minor swear words in places and what the DVD calls fantasy horror, though they do happen very infrequently. Its a bit of a shame because the vast majority of the movie is actually suitable for a PG rating and I think a lot of children, (though not too young) would probably quite enjoy the movie.
I realise Ive focused a lot on the negative aspects of Hitchhikers and whilst I think they are valid points, the truth is that the movie isnt that bad, (though it is far from being a great movie). Some scenes are genuinely entertaining, such as when the Heart Of Gold turns into a ball of wool. I thought this scene was in keeping with the eccentric style Adams had used previously and, whilst I dont recall it being mentioned in other incarnations, it was entertaining and I thought worked well visually.
~~~ Special Effects ~~~
The CGI effects for The Guide are a very good interpretation of Adams concept. Visually, they are engaging, with bright colours and light-hearted enough to be amusing and I doubt anyone would feel cheated by the animation used here.
Equally, the CGI effects used towards the end of the movie are credible, though as Ive already mentioned, they do lose some of their impact on a smaller screen.
For me, the decision to use animatronics creatures, (provided by The Jim Henson Workshop) for the Vogons is a superb choice, rather than relying on CGI. I think it helped add a little more weight to the characters and making them seem more realistic than I think computer-generated creatures would have done.
~~~ The DVD ~~~
The copy I own is the two-disc edition. The menus on both discs are brightly coloured, mostly keeping in line with The Guide visuals from the movie. Navigation is intuitive and I doubt anybody would struggle in terms of finding their way around the discs.
The DVD comes with a fair amount of bonus material and the Special Features are: -
- Making Of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
- Additional Guide Entry
- Deleted Scenes
- Really Deleted Scenes
- Sing Along
- Audio Commentaries
- Set Top Games: Marvins Hangman
- Dont Crash: Making Of (UK Exclusive Bonus)
All the Special Features are well produced, but as is often the case, their appeal will vary from person to person. All in all, I quite enjoyed these bonuses, my personal favourite being the Dont Crash documentary, since this is a full length feature that goes behind the scenes and goes in to much more detail than the Making Of documentary.
The Sing Along feature probably does have some value for drunken get togethers with family and friends, assuming youre into that sort of thing. Beyond that, I doubt there is any great appeal for this particular feature.
A mention should go to the Marvins Hangman game. This is essentially hangman, but instead of hanging a man, every letter you get wrong dismantles part of Marvin, with comments made by Marvin as the game progresses. Whilst it is well produced and holds some entertainment value, the constant comments between letters slows the game down and can become a little repetitive. Like the sing along, this is probably best suited for get-togethers, although, repetitiveness aside, it does hold some value as a play-by-yourself piece.
On the whole, these bonus features are of a high standard and quite entertaining. What does surprise me is the fact that the second disc only includes the Dont Crash documentary, with the majority of material found on the first disc along side the movie. I assume that the first disc is the standard edition and, whilst Dont Crash is very interesting, its questionable whether its worth buying two discs for. I myself am quite pleased since I only paid about £5 for it, (thank you Amazon and your special offers!). I also believe that you can get it from Tescos for around £7 or so and, assuming you dont already own the DVD, I think this is a reasonable price to pay (assuming you think youll enjoy the movie), but I personally wouldnt pay much more than that for what is essentially a mediocre movie with high-quality Special Features.
~~~ Trivia ~~~
A mention has to go to two rather amusing cameos. Firstly, Simon Jones, who played the original Arthur Dent in the radio and television shows, makes an appearance, (credited as Ghostly Image). As does the original Marvin android from the television version. Admittedly, for new fans these cameos probably wont even register, but anyone familiar with the television show in particular who chuckle to themselves and I for one thought it was a nice touch.
Douglas Adams is credited as a writer and producer of the movie, despite it not being finished until a couple of years after his death. Adams had spent an enormous amount time working on ideas and scripts and the credit is not simply a token gesture, but genuine recognition of the work he put into the movie prior to passing away.
Director, Garth Jennings, had never previously made a feature-length movie before. His previous directorships were essentially for music videos.
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
The movie overall is a bit of a mixed bag. Some scenes are really quite remarkable and, on the whole, the movie stays true to the ethos of Adams work. Sadly, its somewhat marred by some lack-lustre performances and occasional script-weaknesses.
As an introduction to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, its not a terrible effort and, if nothing else, it should succeed in engaging a new audience enough to at least be interested in reading the books, or listening to the radio shows.
For long-time fans, I think its a little more tricky. I think some purists will dislike the overall way that they movie has been made; equally, I think some will appreciate the attempt to incorporate as much material from the previous versions.
Personally, as already mentioned, I dont think this is a terrible effort, but it is mediocre. I think the movie could have been made into something much bigger and more impressive. For the right price, this isnt a bad DVD to have in your collection, but on the whole, I think most people would probably be better waiting for it to be shown on television before making a decision whether to buy or not. For myself, whilst I will watch it again at some point, I can see it being out of my DVD player for some time before going back in.
Douglas Adams famously suffered from Writers Block for most of his career. When he wrote Hitchhiker Guide as a radio series for BBC 4 so many years ago, it seemed that whilst listening to the series writing came easily to Douglas but this was far from the truth. It was said that at times Douglas could agonise for days over a single paragraph.
Every line was carefully crafted by his rare weird genius and the proof was in the constant laughter coming from myself and my brothers while we listened to the show every week.
When the books came out we bought them as soon as they hit the shelves and read for ourselves the lines that we'd listened to on the radio and again howls of laughter could be heard from our bedrooms.
It went downhill a little bit when the TV series was released but it was still funny and we got to visualise some of the ideas that we had previously heard and read. Until the TV series we didnt know what petunias were let alone a bowl of them.
For years afterwards there were rumours of a film in the making but nothing ever seemed to happen. Whether it was the famous writers block or Adams perfectionism or the American producers not understanding his concepts I dont know but the effort it seems finally killed him and he died at a ridiculously young age of 49.
The basic premise of the radio series/books/TV series/second radio series/Film is this:
Arthur Dent wakes up one morning to find that the local council has decided to knock down his house in order to build a motorway through his back garden. This is the first Arthurs heard about this and his surprise soon turns to anger and he promptly decides to lie down in front of the approaching bulldozers. But this is just the beginning of his problems. Unknown to Arthur and indeed the rest of the human population of the planet, it seems the Earth itself is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hyperspace bypass making his initial predicament seem trivial in comparison. Of course being only the third most intelligent species on the planet (dolphins being the second and mice being the first) doesnt help and the dolphins having tried in vain to warn humans of the impending destruction of the planet quietly leave the planet leaving humans to fend for themselves. Still with me?
Arthurs best mate, a chap called Ford Prefect turns out not to be human at all. Ford is actually an alien researcher for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy a sort of galactic guide book for travellers and he only popped by to update the guide on its entry for Earth when he became stranded on the planet several years previously. Ford manages to hitch a ride on one of the spaceships that arrive to demolish the Earth and he decides to take Arthur with him.
What follows is a series of adventures that take Ford and Arthur on a trip through the Galaxy where they meet the aliens responsible for demolishing the earth (the Vogons), a cousin of Fords called Zaphod Beeblebrox, some mice, a paranoid robot, a race of people that manufacture planets and a whole load of other weird and wonderful people and places.
The radio series and books covered a lot of ground. In fact the last book in the series turned out to be book number 5 in the Trilogy which shows how big the story became. Unfortunately all this work has had to be compressed into a 90 minute film and the result is quite as expected a disappointment. Unless you are already familiar with the book, you never get a chance to get to know the characters as there simply isnt enough time and the whole story has chunks removed that would explain the whole concept to those who were not fortunate enough to know the story from the radio series and books. The film is disjointed with lots of areas of within the plot crying out for explanation and throughout one is left with a feeling that this simply could not have been what the great Douglas Adams would have wanted off this film.
The special effects are fantastic and wonderfully visualise Douglas Adams ideas in a way that a BBC budget for a TV series couldnt do but without being able to tell more of the underlying story the effects are essentially wasted.
The choice of Stephen Fry as the voice of the guide is a stroke of genius and pays homage to the original Peter Jones but the choice of Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent just doesnt work. His facial expressions and general acting ability is straight out of the Office and he doesnt seem to bring anything new to the role. In fact if you didnt know better the film could equally be the adventures of Tim Canterbury (Martins character in the Office) in space. Mos Def plays the part of Ford Prefect but doesnt come across as eccentric as the original. Bill Nighy is an excellent Slartibartfast and of course Alan Rickman does a great Marvin.
There are a few nods to the original TV and Radio series. For instance the actor Simon Jones who played the original Arthur Dent appears in the movie in a cameo role as does the original Marvin the paranoid android but this simply isnt enough to satisfy die-hard fans.
Unfortunately, the problem with the film is that people were inevitably going to compare it to the original and in doing so they find the film is just not up to scratch.
The DVD has the usual extras like Deleted Scenes and audio commentaries which may be off a passing interest to people. Theres a hangman game and a fake deleted scenes which are okay but not something youd want to come back to again after going through it once.
The commentary by Douglas Adams is sad in a way. Its rather like listening to the last words of an old friend and I suspect those were actually Douglas Adams last words on his galactic epic.
All in all a sad ending to what was otherwise a wonderfully original radio series/tv/book/second radio series.
"The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". The radio series that spawned pretty much everything; books, records, a TV series, a computer game, several stage shows, a website and a towel. But not, surprisingly, a full length feature film. In these days where everything from books to computer games to theme park rides seem evolve into a film, "the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" never quite made it.
That wasn't for the want of trying, of course. Douglas Adams was first offered the chance to make a "Hitchhikers" film back in 1979, and again in 1981. The film rights were actually sold as far back as 1982 to Ivan Reitman, who then decided to make "Ghostbusters" instead. After this fell through, there was an announcement that the film would be made in 1998, which was still no closer to a release in 2001, when Douglas Adams passed away.
Yet here, in 2005, nearly four years to the day after the author's passing, we finally have a "Hitchhikers" film. Twenty five years after it was first discussed, and more than twenty years since it first became a serious possibility, it's here. Given the success of "Hitchhikers" over the intervening period, this could either be the most eagerly anticipated film of all time or the biggest cult movie ever. Or it could be big for about a fortnight and get swamped by "Revenge of the Sith". Whatever happens, when you're making a film that's been eagerly awaited by millions of people for a quarter of a century, you need to do a very good job of it, or you're going to end up with some seriously upset people. Can the reality ever come close to matching the hype and anticipation?
Arthur Dent is not having a good day. His early morning cup of tea is disturbed by bulldozers arriving to knock his house down. Then his best friend arrives and announces he's actually from Betelgeuse instead of Guildford and his misery over losing the chance to go out with a girl he met at a party is interrupted by a Vogon fleet arriving to knock his planet down. For the want of a better explanation, Arthur concludes that it must be a Thursday as he "never could get the hang of Thursdays."
Thursday or not, Arthur's day isn't nearly over yet. He is still to be captured by the Vogons, tortured with Vogon poetry (the third worst in the known universe), and thrown into deep space to certain doom. Then he has to be saved from that certain doom, meet the President of the Galaxy and his girlfriend, who happens to be the woman from the party. After all this, there's still time to stage a daring rescue mission and find out that his planet isn't all it appears to be.
Those with previous experience of "Hitchhikers" in any or all of its forms will recognise parts of this story, but not all. "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" has long had a great tradition of evolving with every new medium it appears in, so that it is never exactly the same twice. Although existing fans will have more of an idea of what's going on at many points, there is no prior knowledge needed to enjoy the film and in many cases, knowing it well beforehand may lead to additional disappointment in what happens.
For the fans, there are going to be a few parts that come as a surprise and, possibly a let down. The story has changed to add a love story to it, which didn't work terribly well in "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and doesn't really work here. This and the casting of American actors in most of the major roles, feel like a sop to Hollywood and it's a shame. Admittedly, though, most of the cast do perform more than adequately.
Martin Freeman, possibly most well known from his role in "The Office" seems perfectly cast as "everyman" Arthur Dent. He has the perfect look as someone who is quite literally seeing their world fall apart around them, alternating confused and scared to perfection and without overdoing either. He always seems vague enough to be the perfect Arthur Dent, from a fan's point of view and would convince a non-fan as someone who really doesn't know exactly what's happening to him.
Zooey Deschanel's casting as Trillian is an interesting one. Although I'm not entirely convinced that an American actress will ever be right for the role, she's perfect in one major way - she's attractive enough that you can believe that a man like Arthur would fall for her instantly and that someone senior would want to steal her from this "everyman". Although her accent isn't right for the role, as far as the character is portrayed in the books, it's a lot more refined and less annoying than Sandra Dickinson's portrayal of the character in the TV series. Non-fans, not knowing either of these, will probably admire her seemingly always in control performance with the touch of vulnerability towards the end.
The casting of Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox was perfect as well. He hams it up dreadfully, but that is what the character requires. Unfortunately for the previously uninformed, the film doesn't explain why he should have become as insane as he is, but once you've accepted that he is quite mad, the performance sits a lot better. Exactly the same could be said of John Malkovich as Humma Kuvala, a new character written especially for the film and by Douglas Adams. Again, he's hamming it up and having a lot of fun with it and his performance reminds me a lot of Christopher Lloyd's in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", with the insanity bubbling under the surface, but with the actor having a lot of fun playing the role.
The other major characters don't fare quite so well however. Using Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin was definitely a bad move. For the first couple of lines, he sounded just like Alan Rickman, which is maybe understandable, but it felt more like you were listening to a depressed Sheriff of Nottingham than a depressed robot. Although he did get a little better later on, I was always conscious of who was playing the role, which made it less convincing. Even worse was Mos Def as Ford Prefect. He's supposed to be the character with all the knowledge of the galaxy and always be in control, but he couldn't manage the effortless cool that Ford should have had. In fairness, most of the poor pieces of editing appear to have affected the character of Ford more than any of the others, but apart from the first half hour, you could have removed him from the film and not have noticed.
The supporting cast are well done. I wasn't entirely convinced by the voices of the Vogons, but their appearance was sufficiently horrible looking to make them suitable bad guys. Bill Nighy's turn as the scatty Slartibartfast at the end was perfectly done and another performance that you suspect the actor himself thoroughly enjoyed. As for the voice of the "Hitchhiker's Guide" itself, it could really only have been one person. Stephen Fry has long had a well deserved reputation as one of the more intelligent people on the comedy and acting circuit and he has the perfect voice for the repository of all knowledge that is the Guide. That said, with so many Americans in the leading roles, it does seem strange to have an English accent on the book.
The film itself is fair to middling, but little more than this. Like many eagerly anticipated films, it fails to live up to the hype. However, this isn't to say that there aren't some very good parts to it. The sequences with the improbability drive are highly amusing, with various cast members turning into wool and sofas at various points. These parts, along with the slapstick routine on the Vogon planet surface are likely to amuse fans and non-fans alike. For sheer spectacle, the journey over the Magrathean factory floor is quite stunning and, again, a sequence that could be appreciated equally by non-fans in terms of the visuals, although the impact of the scene may be slightly lost.
For sci-fi fans, the ships are quite nicely done, although the first introduction to the Guide makes it look like a flying PS2, and there are plenty of flying lasers and explosions. There are cheeky nods in the direction of "Red Dwarf" and "Star Wars", the latter perhaps in reference to Douglas Adams' concern that earlier film versions were looking like turning into "'Star Wars' with jokes". Indeed, what you see is very effective, with a clear demarcation between good (round and white) and bad (dark and boxy) that any watcher would be able to appreciate, although for fans of the TV "Hitchhikers", the new round white Marvin never quite looks right.
For comedy fans, there are some hilarious moments, although the whole film isn't really a comedy as such, perhaps more of a comedy adventure. There are also nods to long standing fans of the "Hitchhikers" series, with the scenes from the Guide itself, despite being a lot more modern than those in the TV series, still retaining a slightly cheap and tacky charm that made them so much fun to start with, and the whole film is perhaps going to make more sense to those with prior knowledge. There are also a couple of minor appearances that only fans of the original TV series would get, which is a nice touch. Overall, though, the film seems to be trying to appeal to too many diverse groups of people and ends up being more of a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of film.
There are some distinctly bad bits to the film as well. The opening song is entertaining enough, but it feels like the standard film opening, so when the credits come in later on, it looks as if the film has two opening sequences, which is strangely disorientating. There are some serious editing problems somewhere as well. There are huge parts that seem to be missing and you find out about them later, like Zaphod's arm. There is a conversation between Ford and another character at one point that obviously refers to a prior relationship, but you would never know until it was specifically mentioned. I'm sure there was more to the film than was shown and it may be that a "Director's Cut" version, possibly on the DVD, will fill in some of these holes and will actually be a better film as a result.
Reactions to this film seem to be split. I went with a group of "Hitchhikers" fans and we were generally unimpressed, but enjoyed it. In my office there is a split between fans who hated it and others who thought it was great. The one person I know who had virtually no knowledge of "Hitchhikers" before seeing the film quite enjoyed it, but didn't entirely understand it. That seems to be the problem with this film. The idea itself has developed a cult following, but it's quite a complicated world to come into as brand new, perhaps a little like the second "Matrix" film. You hear of film sequels that fail to stand alone, but rarely one which needs to be watched along side a book.
I'm not going to say that I wish I hadn't gone along and that the film was a complete waste of my time and money. Having waited so long for "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" to reach the big screen, it was a great feeling as a fan to be able to be part of that experience. However, the execution of the idea was a bit of a disappointment and this is yet another major film that fails to live up to expectations. There are many parts that will appeal to all kinds of people, but not enough of them that everyone will be entirely happy with it. As an adaptation, it's only partially successful and as a film in its own right, it's no more than average. Sadly, the idea of the film is actually more appealing than the film itself.
"Hitchhikers" fans should go prepared to be disappointed and upset, while non-fans should prepare to be disappointed and slightly confused. Unless you absolutely can't wait, or unless you're like me and just HAVE to see this film on the big screen after hearing about the prospect of it for the last twenty years, you'd be best off waiting for the DVD and even then, more for rental than for purchase. I went along, wanting to be able to come out and recommend it to everyone, but despite enjoying parts of it a great deal and being pleased I saw it on the big screen, I've left not entirely convinced I could recommend it even to myself.
This is the new film version of the late Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy radio show, books and 80s TV series. The film is weird, wacky and fun. I took my wife to see it in the cinema and she thought it was very enjoyable. As it is a PG certificate it is suitable for most of the family and is probably most suited to the Alpha One male geek. Hardcore fans of the Hitchhikers series and Adams books may not like the film as some of the wackiness has been toned down from the books to appeal to a wider audience. (AKA - Americanisation).
The Hitchhiker series has been around since the early eighties when Adams wrote the script for a BBC radio show. He then translated this to five books and a TV series. However he wanted to make it into a film, but as the story visually is so weird and wacky, it needed a bit of computer special effects to make the scenes look good and work on camera. The film idea languished in Hollywood development stage hell in the late nineties until Adams death in 2001. Sadly his death provided a catalyst to the developers, they got a new writer and director on board and made the film a reality.
It is starts with one man, Arthur Dent who wakes up one morning in his quaint British cottage to discover that the council wants to demolish his house to make way for a new bypass. At the same time Arthurs friend Ford Prefect turns up with a trolley of beer to tell Arthur that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. You see Ford is not really from Guildford, he is an alien visitor to the planet Earth. He is a writer for a book called The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and he got stuck on Earth fifteen years ago.
Ford rescues Arthur from the Earth by get them both to hitch a lift with the Vogon construction fleet sent to destroy the Earth. Eventually they get dumped out of the Vogon spaceship into space and miraculously get picked up by the spaceship Heart of Gold. This is a brand new spaceship with a new drive on board called The improbability drive. The Heart of Gold was recently stolen by the President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox and his assistant/girlfriend Trillion. Zaphod and Ford are old friends and Trillion also knows Arthur as they once met at a party in a flat in Islington (London). Trillions real name was Tricia McMillan and she was tempted away from Arthur by Zaphod to travel the galaxy in his spaceship. Zaphod takes Trillon, Ford and Arthur on a quest to find Margaretha an ancient and fabled planet that many years ago developed and built many new planets. On this planet there is a computer that has the answer to the ultimate question of life, the galaxy and everything.
From the Heart of Gold Arthur learns many unusual things about Earth, the galaxy and why Marvin the ships android is so depressed. All the while they are trying to avoid the attention of the bureaucratic Vogons and find the answer to the ultimate question.
Arthur Dent Martin Freeman (Tim in The Office, Love Actually)
Ford Prefect Mos Def (Monsters Ball, Italian Job)
Zaphod Beeblebrox Sam Rockwell (The Green Mile, Galaxy Quest)
Trillion/Trisha McMillan Zooey Deschanel (Elf, Almost Famous)
Marvin Warwick Davies (Wicket in Return of the Jedi, Willow)
Slartibartfast Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead)
Questular Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Agent Cody Banks 2)
Humma Kavula John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, Johnny English)
The Guide Stephen Fry (British lovey)
Marvin Alan Rickman (Harry Potter films)
Deep Thought Helen Mirren (Calender Girls)
The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy starts with one of the weirdest pieces of movie introduction that I have seen in my entire movie experience. First the Guide voiced by Stephen Fry using the plummiest British accent he could muster, informs the viewer that man is the third most intelligent creature on the planet Earth. The second is the dolphin, who knows about the impending doom facing Earth. Unfortunately man doesnt understand the whistling noises and the playful actions of the dolphins, assuming that they are just having fun. Cue lots of sequences of Dolphins leaping out of the water and music playing with the chorus singing So long and thanks for all the fish.
The opening sequence is so unusual that I was expecting the film to be totally wacky as it is in the book of the same title. To my surprise the film heads of in a normal way, by introducing the characters and moving on telling the opening scenes of the book, almost word for word as written by the late Douglas Adams. Finally new non-Adams elements are added and appended to the original story as we meet Trillion and Zaphod. The film slows slightly as the story introduces another character called Humma Kavala played with typical menace by John Malkovich. By the middle part of the film you have a little time to think and try to work out where the story has come from and how well the main actors are doing.
Martin Freeman does a good job of playing a bemused Arthur Dent, who is still trying to come to terms with the destruction of his planet. His main problem is the lack of a decent cup of tea. He is suited to this role as he carries the look a puzzled inquisitiveness really well. I think he does a good job of the script that is given to him and has created a modern yet familiar Arthur Dent.
Zooey Deschanel as Trillion has a little more script to work on than the character in the book as Arthurs love interest. Hollywood has tacked on the Trillion/Arthur love scenes, but they are a good addition if you are trying to keep the attention of the ladies and I think it works. Miss Deschanel does a good job of keep a sense of wacky to the proceedings as Trillion, by calmly accepts anything that is put in her way, with the exception of the destruction of Earth.
Sam Rockwell plays up to the showmanship that is required for the character of Zaphod Beeblebrox and brings to the film some much needed pace and fizz. He brings out the dynamic and wacky side of the film and is probably my favourite character of the film.
Mos Def has a tough time playing Ford Prefect, but this is not due to any bad acting. No, it is due to the writers taking away part of the Ford characters role and giving it to the Guide. I felt that Mos Def was good playing Ford at the beginning of the film, but by the end he had disappeared into the background and was almost surplus to requirement. The way the script was written gave no scope for the Ford character to develop and hence let the actor down, by giving him nothing to work on. A shame really.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a good film, but not a great film. It has lost some of the unusual and weird stories that were in the book and replaced them with the traditional love scenes and a few extra slow scenes. I think all involved did a good job with the script given to them by the writers, but I think that without Douglas Adams involvement the film has suffered from a lack of effervescence and drive. In short the film will cover a larger audience but at a cost to the original fans of the Hitchhiker book series. I think it is a shame that some of the Britishness and irreverence has been left out of the film, as this is what made the books so enjoyable. I recommend this film to people who have never heard or read the books as this is a good introduction to the world of the late Douglas Adams.
Thanks for reading
It all seems a perfectly normal morning for Arthur Dent who goes about his morning business in his dressing gown and then sits down to enjoy his breakfast. However, when he notices his morning cup of tea edging towards the table and a slight rumbling of the rest of the china ware he moves, somewhat hesitantly, towards the window.
Cut to him now, rather than enjoying his cup of tea, lying on his back directly in the way of a JCB waiting (not entirely patiently) to knock down his house to make way for a new by-pass. Understandably, Arthur is not best pleased at the mornings turn of events and even less pleased with the foremans lack of sympathy who simply states that the plans had been on display in the basement of the public library for some time.
However for Arthur, a rather unexpected request from his newly arrived mate Ford Prefect (though strangely expected if you know him well enough) to go to the pub for a drink comes along and after accepting the builders won't demolish his house due to the lager Ford had just given out, goes with him.
Ford is acting strange. Or rather stranger than normal if there is such a thing. Ordering them both six pints of bitter each, he starts to go on about the end of the world, telling the barman that if he really wants to put a bag over his head in preparation to go ahead, but if wouldn't really help.
However, Arthur really isn't paying attention and as he hears a worrying crash outside. And yes, as he feared, his house was now no more but as he desperately sifts through the ruins, the workers all start to run and he hears yet another worrying thing being said above him, which was coming from a rather more worrying gigantic object .
I don't think I can adequately put into words how excited I have been waiting for this film to come out. For as long as I can remember, I have loved, no, adored the Hitch Hikers guide to the Galaxy (true guide geeks will spot the difference there!) series of books and have read it at least twice or three times a year for the last 10 years. The comic genius that was the late Douglas Adams is second to non in my opinion so when it went on release in the cinemas I was there as soon as I could manage.
Standing in the queue for my ticket, a number of thoughts were passing through my head. "Will it be as funny? Will it look anything like what I have been seeing in my head all these years? How much will they change and how much will they add? What will Marvin sound like? Just how WILL they manage Zaphoid? Well, to those of you who haven't read the book you may be going "eh?" right now, but to the rest who have, the answers are mostly (no, not the number you get when you multiple six by seven ) yes and no.
Of course the story was going to be slightly different. The history behind the Guide is one of evolution where Adams basically changed bits he didn't like, and added bits that he thought should be added each time he wrote it for a different medium (the Guide has been shown on TV and broadcast on radio as well as published as a book). So I was prepared for that. The basic premise remained the same where after the unfortunate event of the demolition of Arthur's house happened, the even more unfortunate event of the demolition of Earth happened. At which point, Prefect (who had very recently in the pub came out as an Alien) grabbed Arthur and 'hitched' a ride on the Vogon ship that was currently destroying the planet. After being caught by the Vogons and subjected to 3rd worse poetry in the universe are ejected into space they are improbably saved by Zaphod Beeblebox and Trillian in the stolen Heart of Gold spaceship. The story then goes on basically in the same way as the book does however adding changes here and there. My personal opinion on the changes is rather mixed though. Without revealing these changes, all I can say is that while some of then made perfect sense to how you would imagine Adams writing them, some of them did not and in fact, were at odds to what you would have expected. The main thing for me was that Trillian was explained FAR too early on in the story and then the love story between her and Arthur was made far too much of in the plot. While there was subtle references to it in the book, it remained subtle as this just wasn't the point of the adventure they were all having, and was very much a side show in the overall story. Also, the parts of Zaphod and Prefect were pretty much put into the background of the story and not enough was made of these tremendously funny characters. The one thing that I was more than happy with however, was Marvin. I really did feel that he was there enough of the time without ever becoming too much of a focus in the story - exactly how I felt he was portrayed in the book.
Following on from the story being subject to change, the characters had a fair bit of that as well. With the exception of Marvin and the Vogons, I saw differences in all the main characters which while again expected, was a mixed bag for me. While I actually didn't mind the fact that Arthur seemed to be a BIT more aggressive than I perceived him and that Trillian was a BIT more girly, Ford Prefect and Zaphoid seemed to be a lot less eccentric than what the voices in my head had told me. I think this can be linked to the downplaying of their roles in the storyline but as with the story, there really is another reason entirely for this. Douglas Adams started working on the screenplay for the movie however died before he got the chance to finish the transition so the job fell on Kary Kirkpatrick (The Little Vampire, Chicken Run).
This was a tough job for him to take on however, as Adams had not completed the screenplay, and in fact, had only really got to the stage of putting together some ideas into draft format. On choosing Kirkpatrick, the makers decided that since he had no knowledge of ANY of the other Guide interpretations, he would be able to take Adams idea's and see them for what they were rather than what a Guide fan would want to see them as. Terrific idea in theory, however I am just not too sure that it worked. Taking the story and characterisation as one, I couldn't help but feel that the basic ideal of the Guide was taken into account, then put to one side as they tried to get a Hollywood feel to it. Bit mistake. In doing this, I feel that a lot of the deadpan humour was lost and the characters were made to feel like they were all larger than life. Something that I really only ever belonged to Zaphod in the book.
Again, I find it hard to comment here. If the actors were going on the material as to what they were to be like then they were spot on. Each took their respective parts and gave it everything they had. Sam Rockwell was great at handling the spit persona of Zaphod but then I personally didn't like the way the character was changed. I found it much funnier when he was arguing with himself rather than trying to suppress one of his personalities. Martin Freeman was great as Arthur Dent, though I felt he was not as deadpan as he should have been, rather having a bit of a new aggressive streak. Mos Def was not at all what I was expecting of Ford Prefect, but then he just was not a prominent enough character and it was not made clear at all that he is actually a writer for the Guide so he kind of faded into the background a bit. Stephen Fry was excellent as the Guide however, and his generic English accent fitted the role perfectly, as did Alan Rickman as Marvin although the actual robot left me feeling that his voice was somewhat detached from his body. A big disappointment for me, was Slartibartfast. To me, he was always so proud of his work on the Earth, specifically the Norweigan Fjords but this just did not come across with Bill Nighy. Once again though, was this down to him or the re-write? I just don't know!
Here I am glad to say, everything went swimmingly. Being a sci fi adventure, they were going to have to pull something out of the bag to make it stand up and look half way decent next to all the other current films about at the moment. Generally everything was as it should be. The Vogons looked properly disgusting, their ships were nicely humungous (though not yellow, wonder why?), the Heart of Gold was a little bit like a Christmas Tree Baubel but impressive non the less, and inside was pretty much what I had imagined as well. The only scene which had be taking a deep breath however was the factory floor on Magrathea. It was EXACTLY as I had pictured it and it looked magnificent. Big thumbs up from me on that one!
You know, I am still a bit lost on how to conclude and rate this motion picture. On the one hand, it didn't stay faithful enough to the past versions of the Guide, for me it was far too Hollywood, the storyline itself was far too much about the love story between Arthur and the not adventurous enough Trillian. They made a massive error on the last line of the film in my opinion as it totally missed the point of the restaurant at the end of the Universe, one that I do not think Adams would have let happen. However, every single time the guide has been re-invented, things have changed. So it can actually be argued that it has done exactly what Adams would have done to it.
So, in rating it, I am going to give it 4 stars. But only just. Parts of it were 5 stars, parts were 1 stars. But my love for the whole concept itself has convinced me that as my favourite author had a lot to do with it, and his comic genius is sheer brilliance, it deserves to be higher than a 3.
Thanks for reading folks, and please, don't forget your towel ..
(p.s - the exact input from Adams himself is not quite clear at this point. Some sources state he had a lot, some not so much. The info I have put here about that came from the official blog - http://hitchhikers.movies.go.com/hitchblog/blog.htm - however I think that hopefully, when the DVD comes out more light will be shed on this within the extra's)
Arthur Dent, an English everyman, wakes up to discover his home is about to be demolished by bumbling bureaucrats. Not just his house, which would be bad enough, but the entire planet Earth.
Luckily, his best friend, Ford Prefect, is from another planet. They manage to hitch a lift, and improbably join up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, on his quest to locate the mythical world of Magrathea.
The film's pacing is very fast, and as a result it unfortunately skips lots of jokes.
This sacrifice of comedy elements allowed them to squeeze in a side-plot involving an evil Space-Pope [John Malkovich - Johnny English]. Very topical, since an ex-HitlerJugend has been hired as the new ruler of Vatican City. But not only is this plot superfluous, it is also left open-ended - to fill out a potential sequel, no doubt.
The Hitch-Hikers series has a long history, dating back to the 1970s. It was originally a BBC Radio series, then a novel, then a TV series. This film is obviously an Americanised version of a British idea -- it's a lot more upbeat than the original. The director, apparently English, has previously directed a couple of music videos. But in spite of his relative inexperience, he acquits himself quite well.
Despite the vast expense on special effects, the core of the film is still the main characters themselves. Ford Prefect (Mos Def - Italian Job 2003) acquits himself well. Trillian, AKA Tricia McMillan (Zooey Deschanel - Elf) is more like Adams' brainy nerd-girl than the TV show's blonde bimbo (Sandra Dickinson) ever could have been. Marvin the Paranoid Android (Warwick Davis is in the suit, while his Harry Potter co-star Alan Rickman provides the voice) is reasonable. But Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell - Green Mile, Charlie's Angels, Galaxy Quest) is awesome! Yes, if all US adaptions of UK shows could bring actors of his calibre, they would be a lot more popular.
The film is filled with celebrity cameos. Deep Thought is voiced by Helen Mirren, and even the news anchorwoman is Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting). For BBC fans, the League of Gentlemen make an appearance too.
There are other nice touches, including cameos by two of the original cast - I won't spoil it for you, you can spot them yourself. Unfortunately Simon Jones, the original voice of the book, has passed away. Stephen Fry (Wilde, Blackadder) is a perfectly adequate replacement.
Beyond great SPFX and a stellar cast, pun intended, the film doesn't really have much to offer. It's just not as funny as expected. That said, it's true to Adams' original story and nowhere near as bad as you might have been expecting.
Also, people unfamiliar with the previous versions of the story seem quite impressed with this one. Just like the way the TV show was loved by newbies, but everyone else said the books were better.
The final verdict? Unfortunately, for those who've read the book, it's a bit hit and miss. Like the Vogons. But if you're a newbie to The Guide, give it a try -- you won't regret it!
The original BBC radio adventures of Arthur Dent (an ape-descendant whose anger at the apparently inexplicable destruction of his home planet Earth, situated in an obscure corner of the outer spiral arm of the galaxy, is expressed in frequent irritation at friendly automatic doors and vending machines) and his travelling companions, Ford Prefect (an itinerant towel-carrying hitch-hiker originally from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse), Zaphod Beeblebrox (the notorious ex-Galactic President and patron of Eccentrica Galumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six) and Marvin the Paranoid Android (who's still suffering from that terrible pain in all the diodes down his left side) proved to be such a success for the BBC that its transition to TV was (almost) inevitable. In 1981 several key members of the radio cast made the move to the small screen. Simon Jones' bewildered Arthur Dent remains the central character, shambling around in his dressing gown (a fact easy to forget on radio); Mark Wing-Davey's Zaphod Beeblebrox is the same as his boastful radio persona, even if the second head utterly fails to convince. Unfortunately, newcomers David Dixon (as Ford Prefect) and the irritating Sandra Dickinson (as Trillian) are no match for their radio predecessors.The problem here is not so much the low-budget look as the script itself, which is lovingly faithful to the radio series in a way that Douglas Adams' novels aren't. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a lucid, satirical, occasionally profound, utterly unique comic invention on radio. As such, it has nothing to gain from TV. The script needs no visual elaboration--that's best left to the listener's own imagination. Only the animated renditions of the Guide itself enhance Peter Jones' wonderfully dry narration; otherwise--paradoxically, perhaps--by supplying images the concept is oddly diminished here.On the DVD: A suitably eclectic not to say eccentric collection of extra features makes this a wholly satisfying two-disc set, neatly packaged in a fold-out slipcase. On the second disc there's an hour-long "making of" documentary from 1992 featuring contributions from the cast and crew, including Douglas Adams; and then there's even more in a 20-minute section entitled "Don't Panic!". A fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at filming as the clock runs out on studio time and a look at the recording of the original radio series complete the first part. Then navigate to the "Outer Planets" to find outtakes, a deleted scene, Zaphod's animatronic second head on Tomorrow's World and Peter Jones's witty and shambolic introduction to the first episode, plus more besides. The series itself is presented in standard 4:3 ratio and Dolby stereo. --Mark Walker