And in regards to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”…

One word review:


Okay. Before seeing it, if you haven’t yet, please remember the following sequence:

  • The radio series came first.
  • The book differed from the radio series.
  • The TV miniseries and record album differed from each other, and from the book and radio series.
  • The text adventure game differed from all the preceding.
  • The graphic novel followed the book rather closely, but still differed from it and all the other preceding.
  • I haven’t seen the towel version, but I suspect it also differs from all the preceding, too.

That said, I went into the movie, expecting it to be roughly the same story more or less, but not at all expecting to see the book faithfully translated to screen word for word.

That’s because, of course, the core of the screenplay was Adams’ work. He started it, he can make the adjustments he sees necessary.

And in short, I loved it.

The movie runs at a breakneck pace, but not so blindingly fast that you miss some of the little details here and there. It even lingers on a couple of wonderful nods to the TV version, and there are a few excellent nods to Adams himself.

I wasn’t sure about Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin anymore when we first met the character, until he delivered one line so perfectly, I have utterly forgotten why I had any reservations at all.

Mos Def makes an acceptable Ford Prefect, although he seems to be all over the place, in terms of his motivation. Zooey Deschanel makes a splendid Trillian, and Sam Rockwell’s Zaphod runs the range from the merely manic to the medicatably psychotic–it’s quite a difference from Mark Wing-Davey’s snarky would-be hipster, but it works well.

Ah, but Martin Freeman. What a gem! Simon Jones is sadly too old to take up the reins anymore outside of radio, and Freeman is a worthy successor as everyman Arthur Dent.

The updated animation of The Guide is absolutely terrific–it’s reminiscent of Lord’s work on the TV series in its minimalism, and yet carves out its own niche (complete with subtle sight gags)

Highly recommended for the H2G2 fan–not sure how people who haven’t read the book are going to do with it, though.


10 comments so far

  1. 66_pony on

    I would say “recommended”, but not “highly recommended”. Where’s my million gallon vat of custard? Where’s my “beware of the leopard”? I could have done without the love story (yes, I know it originated with Adams, but it doesn’t really work for me).

    But pretty much the entire Volgon homeworld was perfect.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      Well, in reading the book after first hearing the radio production, you may as well ask “Wait, why does Ford come up with the plan to baffle Mr. Prosser? Arthur is supposed to get Prosser to lie in the mud!”

      I stand by my highly recommended–although it does require you to remember that no two versions of H2G2 are quite the same, and to just accept that. Really, when you look at the radio series, the TV series, the books and now this movie, you have to ask yourself whether Adams himself was ever satisfied with his work. The scripting changes were always his, after all, and even the bulk of this film is based on his own screenplay.

      What you can accomplish in those four different media–radio, TV, book and movie–are all different things. A book is only really limited by your own writing ability. Radio is limited by the budget and the creativity of your sound effects people and voice talent. TV is limited more, by the time constraints set ahead of time, the screen talent (and voice talent does not always convert into screen presence), the visual effects team, and the sound team, and movies are even more time constrained and require better effects.

      I expected to lose some of my favorite bits–like you, the exchange with Mr Prosser is one I missed, as well as the Heart of Gold while it’s still in a highly improbable internal state–but the payoff was new material, and a new member of the H2G2 family of productions. I liked the way they showed the Heart of Gold in flight… it was certainly pretty improbable. :)

      So I say the changes were worth it, and if it does well enough, who knows? Maybe they’ll make Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, The Universe and Everything–although they’ll have to be a lot more careful, since as far as I know, Adams didn’t write proposed screenplays for those.

      The Arthur/Trillian thing worked for me, basically. I say it stands to reason that the last two survivors of a planet would stick together, and I have to admit that I always liked Trillian as a character better than Fenchurch.

      The exteriors on the Vogon homeworld were downright Gilliamesque, I thought. And I liked the ratty pinstripe suits the managerial Vogons wore. The Henson team did a great job.

      • 66_pony on

        Well, my beef with “missing” parts is not when they’re completely missing, like the change of lying in mud vs. handing out beer. It’s when things are MOSTLY harmless (which I also missed) missing. Case in point: the location of the highway bypass plans. The fact they were in a cellar was the least amusing bit. It was the slow reveal that they were in a cellar with no lights or stairs in a disused lavatory with a sign that read “beware of the leopard”. You don’t want to go through all that on-screen? Fine, but then why leave in the comment about the cellar?

        I am glad you enjoyed it, and I liked it too, but my opinion is somewhat lesser than yours, is all. Seems fair.

  2. avon_deer on

    I am going to watch it tonight.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      Enjoy! You might find it to have been a little too Americanized, though. I don’t know. Adams only insisted that Arthur be played by an Englishman, the rest he was open to whoever read best … although the casting for the Voice of the Book was spot on–I think that had to be an English voice, as much as Arthur needed to be an English actor.

      • avon_deer on

        Enjoy! You might find it to have been a little too Americanized

        I’m afraid I did.

        I felt the weakest character was Ford though.

        • Yeah, I don’t think Mos Def quite knew what to do with the role. He didn’t do a bad job, but couldn’t really keep up.

  3. ataniell93 on

    You doubted Rickman as Marvin? Dude, just imagine Snape as an android! :D

    • The funny thing is, I didn’t have doubts until they introduced the character on screen. It seemed to me that his read was just a little thin… until The Perfect Marvin Moment, at which point I realized exactly what he was up to.

      See, despite myself, I was thinking about the Stephen Moore version. I was expecting the acid-tongued depression, not the Universe-weariness depression. Fingers crossed that they can go ahead and make RatEotU and LtUaE.

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