A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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 | , ,

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