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."
Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.
Everyone has bad mornings. You wake up late, you stub your toe, you burn the toast...but for a man named Arthur Dent, this goes far beyond a bad day. When he learns that a friend of his is actually an alien with advanced knowledge of Earth's impending destruction, he is transported off the Earth seconds before it is exploded to make way for a new hyperspace motorway. And as if that's not enough, throw in being wanted by the police, Earth II, an insane electronic encyclopedia, no tea whatsoever, a chronically depressed robot and the search for the meaning of life, and you've got the greatest adventure off Earth. Written by
You can see a cameraman reflected in the left side of the kettle when Arthur makes tea in his house at the start of the movie. See more »
It's an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, Man had always assumed that he was the most intelligent species occupying the planet, instead of the *third* most intelligent. The second most intelligent creatures were of course dolphins who, curiously enough, had long known of the impending destruction of the planet earth. They had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger, but most of their communications ...
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After a couple of minutes of typical movie credits, we are treated with a final, classic Guide entry. It refers to Arthur Dent carelessly speaking words about a towel, which ends up being interpreted by a pair of warring factions as a devastating insult. They then spend thousands of years coming to Earth bent on revenge, however "due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog". The Guide concludes with the reassuring nugget of wisdom, "this sort of thing is going on all the time". See more »
Don't Panic! Douglas Adams' legacy has been turned into a delicious acid-trip of a movie, featuring love, aliens and the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Douglas Adams turned his sci-fi phenomenon, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into a hit radio and TV series, a five-part trilogy of novels and a BAFTA-winning computer game, but complained making it into a movie was like "trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people blow on it".
After a 20-year battle with Disney to get the film made - and a day after a planet was named after the story's protagonist Arthur Dent - Adams died of a heart attack. Fans rushed to their nearest webring to console each other when they discovered the bum-clenchingly great scripting responsibilities had been passed on to Karey Kirkpatrick, the brains behind fluffy kiddie flick, Chicken Run.
To make matters worse, Terry Gilliam and Jay Roach passed the honour of directing the film to Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith, two movie first-timers who made their livings as production duo Hammer & Tongs - the company behind music videos for REM, Supergrass and Pulp among others.
But Don't Panic! As Robbie Stamp, Adams' pal and the movie's executive producer, rightfully says, "The cast and crew rose to the challenge and created the perfect tribute to Douglas."
The film carefully brings the story into the noughties without incurring the wrath of Hitchhiker fans, and adds enough smug nods in their direction to keep them happy. They will relish whispering to their unimpressed cinema neighbour, "Look, Douglas Adams' face is in that shot" or "That's Marvin the Paranoid Android from the TV series." And for the uninitiated, there's an acid-trip of a movie featuring love, aliens and the answer to life, the universe and everything.
A galaxy of stars were enlisted to bring the mind-boggling story to the big screen, including Martin Freeman, who reprises his superb Everyman role from The Office to play Arthur Dent, a tea-loving Londoner who becomes the last man from Earth, following its destruction to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
Mos Def proves not all hip-hop stars are fist-gnawingly embarrassing as actors, in his part as Ford Prefect, a revoltingly cool alien who accompanies Dent on his hitchhiking adventure around the universe.
The unspeakably delicious Zooey Deschanel provides the love story that was sadly lacking in Adams' script drafts. She plays Trillian, the last surviving humanoid female, who finds herself caught in an unsavoury love triangle between Dent and Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Imperial Galactic Government and owner of three arms, two heads and one planet-sized ego.
And if you've ever wondered what Freddie Mercury and George Bush's lovechild would be like (and frankly, who hasn't?) watch Sam Rockwell's extraordinary portrayal of Beeblebrox. As Rockwell testifies, "I studied footage of US presidents and rockers for this role until I tasted blood."
The essential Britishness of the film is provided by the delectable Stephen Fry and Bill Nighy, who are more English than chips, awkward dinner parties and halitosis.
Who better to voice The Guide, a book which contains all the knowledge in the universe, than bulging-brained Fry, who uses the perfect amount of middle-class haughtiness, irony and intelligence to narrate the delightfully complicated story.
And Nighy can't fail as planet builder Slartibartfast (who, as every nerd knows, won an award for creating the twiddly bits around Norwegian fjords) because he based the world-weary alien on the nation's best-loved character, Bill Nighy.
I almost missed out one character, insane religious leader Humma Kammula, a new character Adams wrote especially for John Malkovich. He is easily forgotten because despite his amusing dialogue, the special effects drown out his performance, preventing him from doing the honour justice.
But fans will forgive this small transgression, for the pleasure of seeing a beast of a movie which has defied the laws of the universe to make it onto the big screen.
Jennings and Goldsmith have proved that despite their movie virginity, the first time isn't always messy, awkward and disappointing, it can also be earth shattering, amusing and very, very satisfying.
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