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
The "babel fish" translator that Ford puts in Arthur's ear inspired the Babelfish web page (first on Altavista, now on Yahoo), which provides translations to and from different languages. The name "Babelfish," in turn, is named for the Tower of Babel in the Bible's Genesis. See more »
When Ford is scooting along with the trolley full of beer he passes a red truck on the right side of the screen (Ford's left side) however when the shot pans out there are only red trucks on the left side of the screen (Ford's right). 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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The film has effectively two title sequences. The first is part of the opening song, when the title appears out of a screenful of bubbles as the "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" number gears up. The second is after the Vogon ships destroy the Earth and we see The Book for the first time - as the original theme music of the radio show and miniseries plays, the book's spine rotates into view and we see its - and the movie's - title. See more »
I've just come back from seeing this film and I have to say I'm in two minds about it. Having grown up with the TV series, the radio series, and the books (in that order), I have certain preconceptions and expectations about Hitchhiker's that this film didn't always deliver.
The bits that worked really well - the dolphin song and dance number at the beginning ('So Long And Thanks For All The Fish), and their return to the remodelled Earth at the end; the journey Arthur and Slartibartfast take through the factory floor at Magrathea and the Earth Mk II (the creation of the oceans, the Himalayas, etc.); the Vogon bureaucratic centre / job centre (where the original TV series Marvin waits in line!); the planet where the travellers are attacked by mean looking rubber spade things; and the bits with the Guide itself - new animations, updated from the (excellent) hand-done ones on TV.
Casting was hit and miss for me - Martin Freeman was OK but was not my idea of Arthur Dent (perhaps Dent will be forever Simon Jones for those who saw/heard him first - here he is a cameo as the Ghostly Image warning the Heart of Gold not to approach the mystery planet). Mos Def was just wrong as Ford Prefect - too American, too trendy.
Zooey Deschanel was the perfect Trillian - you can believe this girl is an astrophysicist (although the line which tells you that is cut). Sam Rockwell as Zaphod. No! He was really irritating me right from his first appearance although by the time Ford was squeezing lemons into his brain to make him think the character got funnier. The two heads are hopeless but perhaps an improvement on a shoulder-mounted rubber one.
Others are very good in smaller parts - Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast, John Malkovich as new character Humma Kavula, Steve Pemberton as Mr Prosser, and of course the voice-only talent (Bill Bailey, Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Stephen Fry as the Book).
What I missed the most were favourite lines - the whole 'Beware of the Leopard' sequence from the beginning between Arthur Dent and Mr Prosser; the 'Please enjoy your trip through this door' perky personality doors on the Heart of Gold; the 'turning into a penguin' and 'monkeys writing Hamlet' sequence; and the 'trouble with my lifestyle' section on Magrathea.
To make up for it the special effects are very good and there are lots of new creatures such as the jewel encrusted crab and the tiny running robot. The Vogons look good as well.
The film itself has a happy ending which is at odds with the book and all other adaptations - it also ends at a different point to both radio and TV series, just as the characters are off to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Does this mean there will be sequels?
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