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."
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
Several minutes into the credits, a final Guide entry is shown. This is the "careless words/problem of scale" entry, well known to fans of other incarnations of the Guide. See more »
When the mice say "To business!" (in the last scene at Arthur's house), the teacup is not in the saucer. Although Arthur drinks from it once more and puts it down, it never appears in the saucer again. 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 »
Making films from books has always been a tricky proposition. For every film adaptation that hits it big such as "Jaws" "Lord of the Rings" and "The Silence of the Lambs", there are several that fail to work or are downright disasters such as "The Bonfire of the Vanities". In the film "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the late Douglas Adams first book in his classic series has finally arrived on the big screen after many delays getting started and a successful version on PBS.
The film stars Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, a simple, easy going fellow whose entire goal in life is to stop the demolition of his beloved home from those who want to put a new highway in its current location.
As Arthur attempts to block the demolition, his good friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), arrives and stalls the demolition with free beer for the work crew. Thinking he has been saved, Arthur is puzzled when Ford takes him to a local pub and buys rounds for the entire pub, saying the world is ending in a few minutes.
Ford in reality is an alien visiting the Earth and learns that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a new galactic expressway. Before he knows what has happened, Arthur is whisked away seconds before the destruction of the Earth by Ford as they end up on a ship of the demolition fleet.
After a series of bizarre events and a narrow escape, Ford and Arthur end up on a passing ship that has been stolen by galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who just happens to be the lady of Arthur's dreams and who is also unaware that the Earth has been destroyed in the short amount of time since she left Earth to explore with Zaphod.
As if this was not enough, the ship also has a depressed android named Marvin (Warwick Davis and voiced by Allan Rickman),
It is at this point that the film goes horribly wrong as the amusing and interesting setup quickly goes nowhere. While the crew is sent on a series of quests, each becomes less interesting than the one before it, and the very bland production values of the film are exposed. The sets are very basic and look as if they were borrowed from many of the budget driven British Sci-Fi that frequents PBS. Somehow the idea of an alien room being nothing but a rusty wall and a slapped up sign just does not cut it for me. At times I thought I was watching a home video production done by fans or another late night B movie rather than a major studio summer release.
As bad as the sets were what is even more amazing was the at times laughable attempts at visual effects where it was obvious that the actors were standing in front of screens as the matting lines were visible.
I tried to put a lot of this off to the idea that the film was trying to be quirky in keeping with the book, but quirky is not an excuse for underwhelming effects, basic sets, and lousy costuming and make up effects as I half expected to see zippers on the costumes of many aliens that looked like they were cobbled from parts at a hardware store.
So now that I have covered my issues with the look of the film, let's look at the story itself, in a word, boring. I could not believe how dull and lazy the film became, and how the staff seemed to be going through the motions. The cast has zero chemistry and Rockwell is so frantic that his character is annoying to watch. After five minutes of his rock star in the spotlight style shtick, I wanted to strangle the character or at least get him on some serious medication.
Director Garth Jennings also has many scenes that simply go nowhere or drag on only to cut at odd times resulting in a complete and utter lack of pacing.
I am a big fan of the book series and I had very high hopes for this film. Sadly the disaster that resulted may very well have Douglas Adams spinning in his grave as his classic work was destroyed. I have to wonder how much of his original draft for the script that was used as the basis for the film survived.
While extreme die hard fans may enjoy the film, even they are likely to be disappointed and I can only hope that if they try to make the next book in the series, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", they do a much better job then this effort, as this is one awful film adaptation. 1 star out of 5 Gareth Von Kallenbah
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