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The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005)

DVD Cover (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Director:
Garth Jennings Garth Jennings
Starring:
Bill Bailey Bill Bailey
Anna Chancellor Anna Chancellor
Warwick Davis Warwick Davis
Yasiin Bey Yasiin Bey
Zooey Deschanel Zooey Deschanel

6.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi Comedy, Science Fiction
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 03, 2005
One of my friends asked, "Do I need to go see this movie without having read the book?" At first, I did not know what to say. Having read the book is certainly not a requirement in order to enjoy the film -- there is plenty for everyone. However, those of us in the audience who had read the book, probably enjoyed it much more than those who had not. From the opening scene, until that very last blast of Douglas Adams energy, audience members were shouting out phrases, laughing hysterically at inside jokes only readers would remember, and thoroughly enjoying their intergalactic experience. I was one of them. I first read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" when I was eleven years old, and I have been an enormous fan every since. I had been eagerly awaiting a film version for years; and, when Douglas Adams passed, I thought it might never happen. I thought the franchise might somehow die along with him. Who else could turn his pages into film other than the man himself? Well, let me say that newcomer Garth Jennings does a damn fine job -- I think he fully captured Adams' vision and made it accessible to mainstream America. Not only was "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" the best film I have seen in 2005, but also a nice walk down memory lane.

The plot is complicated. Ford Perfect (Mos Def) and his Earth friend Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hitch a ride into space just as Earth is being destroyed to make way for a new intergalactic expressway. After escaping the clutches of the 'by-the-book' Vogons, they find themselves on the stolen ship of Zaphod Beeblebrox -- the President of Space, and the lovely Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who also happened to live on Earth and almost ended up going to Madagascar with Arthur. Zaphod's mission is clear -- he wants to go to an obscure planet, find Deep Thought (Helen Mirren) and ask 'the question to end all questions'. Along the way, he meets up with his opponent from the Presidential election, the peculiar handkerchief evangelist, Humma Kavula (John Malkovich). Oh, and did I forget to mention that, while on their journey, they are accompanied by the most depressed robot in the universe, Marvin the Robot (Warwick Davis/Alan Rickman). There are many other events that take place along the way, but I don't want to ruin the pace of the film for anyone who has not read the book. But, let me assure you -- after you have seen the film, the only right and logical thing to do would be to run out and purchase the novel as soon as possible. You owe Douglas Adams that much.

Let us begin with the adaptation. Garth Jennings has crafted one of the finest literary adaptations I have ever seen -- he has gone out of his way to keep the fans of the book as happy as possible. From the opening number, with an ocean full of dolphins singing their song of liberation, to the closing shot of Douglas Adams' head flying at the screen -- it is obvious that Jennings shares a deep love for the novel and wanted to make it pour off screen the best he could. After watching the film, I totally agreed with the casting of the picture. Each actor turns the character into something special, and I especially loved the Marvin the Robot design -- it was just how I imagined him while reading the novel. The special effects were phenomenal, but there were also the appropriate amount of cheesy, B-movie effects, as when the ship and everyone inside is transformed into yarn -- that is total deadpan. The pace of the film seems very similar to something you would expect from the Monty Python gang, and I suppose that is appropriate considering that the majority of people associated with this film are British. The film also benefits from the master. Douglas Adams wrote this draft of the screenplay, so he was able to dictate what he wanted on screen and what he did not want. I wonder what it was like for the actors to walk around, delivering lines that they knew were some of Adams' last written words on this planet?

Back to the performances. Sam Rockwell is absolutely perfect as Zaphod -- one of the most eccentric characters in the novel. He brings this kind of hillbilly swagger to the role -- he seems like a blend of Elvis, Hank Williams Jr, and a 1970's stoner. His dialect is most of the humor, especially when he is confronted with his old rival, John Malkovich. As Ford Perfect, Mos Def had a very difficult job -- convincing fans that he has what it takes for the character. All fears are set aside after the first sequence of events, when he and Arthur are in the local pub drinking as much better and eating as many salted peanuts as possible before the end of the world. Martin Freeman also comes out of nowhere as Arthur -- I could probably think of twenty different actors who would have been perfect for the role, but Freeman probably turned out just as well as any of them could. He seems like he belongs on one of those zany British TV shows, like "The Office". And, Marvin, sweet Marvin. He was my favorite character in the book, and so the same can be said for the film version. Warwick Davis embodies Marvin with all of the 'slumps' and 'draggish posture' you would expect from a manic depressive, and Alan Rickman is the perfect voice for Marvin -- it is amazingly ideal for the character. Every time Marvin would say something -- no matter what -- the audience would erupt into a minute long span of total laughter.

Before finishing this review, I want people to really understand how great this film was -- I enjoyed it more than the last two entries into the "Star Wars" franchise; I enjoyed it more than "Blade Runner", more than "Aliens", more than "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" -- okay, maybe that last one didn't help. For me, this was one of those films that cements itself in the lexicon of American cinema. Will the film do extraordinarily well and warrant sequels? I hope so. I cannot say for certain. Whether there are sequels or not, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" made the book come alive -- it made Douglas Adams' vision take shape, and it entertained the hell out of everyone in the theatre. I can honestly say that I saw zero faces of disappointment when the film was over. If anything, most people wanted to run home and download the dolphin song. This was the perfect fan film. And, when you are tackling material this sacred, the fans are the people you need to have in mind the entire time. Without them, your box office is non-existent, and the press is so bad that you are lucky to make it two weeks in the top ten. Fans will love this film. The fans who do not love this film are really not fans -- they've merely read the book, and probably didn't understand a damned thing. 10/10.
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Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 02/24/2008, 03:48 PM
I never read the book, but I enjoyed this movie. I'm actually watching it for the second time right now. I didn't want to see it, but I'm glad I did. This movie is awesome.
Edd #2: Edd - added 03/31/2008, 10:02 AM
I just... didn't get this movie. It wasn't just dry, it was plain unfunny. 2/10
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