A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 42 – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) – April 11th, 2010

Holy crap! Since I number the movies we’ve been watching, I really should have realized that today was #42, and I sort of did but I didn’t really think about it until we’d put in Ocean’s Thirteen this morning and I typed “Movie 42” and went “Oh damn! We should be watching Hitchhiker’s Guide today!” So we had a little discussion about how we felt about splitting up the Ocean’s movies and watching the last one tomorrow night instead of today, and we decided we felt just fine about it. And then we put in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Now, sadly, the original version of this is a miniseries and therefore not part of this project even though we own it, so it’s the 2005 version for us. But that’s okay! We like this version! It’s got Sam Rockwell and Mos Def and Alan Rickman’s voice and one of the best ad libs ever (“BUTTONS AREN’T TOYS!” which we say all the damn time). Personally, I think this adaptation is fantastic. I’m not sure how much of it is due to Mos Def, but I’m willing to credit him with a lot of it. He totally inhabits the character of Ford, down to always finding a way to use his towel. Also fantastic is Sam Rockwell as Zaphod. The performances definitely make the movie for me, because not only do I think the actors do a great job with the characters, but I think they had a lot of fun doing it. It seems like everyone enjoyed being a part of the project, and I like that. When the performances are good, it’s easy for me to get sucked into a movie. And I definitely got sucked into this one. Enough that I sort of stopped thinking about reviewing it.

Watching this, all I’ve done is grin at the references to the original miniseries and laugh at the fun bits and repeat lines that amuse me. I don’t have any really insightful commentary about the movie. I know a lot of people didn’t like it, because it wasn’t the miniseries or it wasn’t the book or it wasn’t British enough or it had the whole subplot with the point of view gun and Humma Kavula. And the subplot, okay, fine. It feels a little off to me, but I do love that gun and how it’s used at the end, so I can forgive the rest. Also, personally, I think that capturing the spirit is key to a good book-to-movie adaptation, along with an amount of respect and care for the source material. The little touches, like Douglas Adams’ face showing up, and the original Marvin? They cared about the original stuff when they made this. And in my opinion, the spirit’s there. Just my opinion, sure, but it means I like the movie. I won’t make any guarantees for anyone else.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

April 11, 2010

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

It’s our forty-second movie review today, which can mean only one thing: it’s time for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Because we’re both huge fans of the whole Hitchhiker’s franchise since the days when I used to listen to the radio program on public radio. I’ve read all the books (except the latest non-Adam’s addition to the series which I do own but haven’t read yet.) I have watched and do own the hilariously low budget BBC television miniseries. I love the Infocom text game and have played it through on multiple occasions. As a long-time fan of the series I really shouldn’t like this movie. Many a fan was upset by the adaptation, and there IS a lot that is abbreviated and altered for the cinema. Many a fan was upset, for example, when Arthur protested that he had to go to a cellar to find the plans for the demolition of his house he does not go on to say that he needed to bring a torch, and that the plans were in an unusedlavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘beware the leopard.’ They felt that the movie had the set ups for some jokes without the punch lines. Then there’s the whole divergence in the movie from the book and radio play with Humma Kavula and the detour to Vogsphere. And of course many people were upset by the general yankification of the movie, what with Trillian, Zaphod and Ford all being played by United Statsians rather than Englishpersons.

However, I really like this movie. I like some of the flaws that made other people dislike it. I mean, the middle portion of the movie still throws me, and I don’t really see why Humma was necessary (although I love seeing Vogsphere, and I love the explanation for why the Vogons are so unimaginative and bureaucratic.) But I LOVE the re-casting of the movie. There are some natural choices which make perfect sense. Such as Stephen Fry as the book or Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin. But I also liked the less orthodox castings. I couldn’t help falling in love with Zooey Deschanel as Trillian. (Especially after the mini-series… where Trillian is a completely unappealing blond bimbo.) Sam Rockwell’s Zaphod is absolutely pitch perfect! He’s so crazy, self obsessed and all about his own image above all else. And Mos Def’s fantastic Ford Prefect is amazing! In every scene he finds something new to do with his towel. He’s so mellow and relaxed… it’s a joy to watch.

I remember many years ago reading the first book in the series for the seventh or eighth time and when I came to the bit where Slartibartfast and Arthur enter the factory floor on Magrathea I tried to picture how this would look in a big-budget Hollywood movie version. I can honestly say that now that the big budget version finally exists I am not disappointed to see how it came out.

There is plenty in this movie to like which offsets the awkward and non-canon moments. Such as: the brilliant animation that accompanies the narration of entries from the Guide itself. Or the great full orchestral version of the Eagles’ Flight of the Sorcerer at the start of the movie. Or little references to the book that are not explicitly explained but still are nods which will please fans who notice them (Ford swears at one point by screaming “belgium.” The Vogon ships hover in the air in precisely the way that bricks don’t.) Or the great job the Henson Creature Shop did creating the Vogons.

Sure there are still nits to pick (the Heart of Gold looks nothing like a tennis shoe in the movie!) but I’m willing o accept the movie as it’s own interpretation and love itfor what it is. It saddens me that there will probably never be any sequels.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment