The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) Poster

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Here's a rather non-committal review!
ianrickard25 April 2005
So, is the Hitchhikers' movie any good?

Yes and no.

It is great to finally see one of my favourite stories finally get the big screen treatment. There are moments where the budget has clearly benefited the overall experience, with some breath-taking CGI sequences. Two particularly spring to mind: An impressive backwards zoom out from earth's surface, past the Vogon demolition charges before the planet is so hastily disposed of, and Arthur's journey onto Magrathea's staggeringly colossal factory floor, which is simply overwhelming. Both illustrate, to great satisfaction, the dramatic readjustment of scale Arthur Dent has to undergo in such a short space of time in a stark manner that is just not possible in any medium other than cinema. The on-screen format of the guide itself is an appropriate update of the format developed for the television series, and it's highly enjoyable to see such delightfully silly animations grace a giant cinema screen.

Cinema is a different experience, and that is the nub of the matter. We are dealing with a radically different medium from any of the other that Hitchhiker's has materialised in, and not only does that offer new opportunities to explore Douglas Adams' marvellous universe, it also necessitates dramatic changes. Most noticeably, and perhaps most important for a two-hour motion picture, there is more effort to form a conventional plot than is present in the original incarnations and this change is accompanied by major changes in character motivation. This is interesting, because (here analysis becomes problematic since it is impossible to know which changes were instigated by Adams and which were down to Karey Kirkpatrick), none of the characters in Adams' earlier material really had any significant motivations that would lend them to becoming interesting protagonists in a more conventional setting.

Previously, Narcissist Zaphod wanted his ego stroked by fame and fortune, Ford was content with the prospect of a decent party to go to and Arthur's only desire was a palatable cup of tea. Trillian didn't really do anything. Although they are far from unrecognisable, the introduction of tangible drives into most of the characters alters the pattern of events in the story to accommodate what begins to resemble a more conventional story structure. One of the first casualties of this is that the principle players overshadow others, who are introduced, half-heartedly expanded upon, and then almost entirely dropped in deference to the favoured few. It never goes the whole way towards a standard structure though, as half of the principle story is seemingly abandoned in favour of a concentration on the romantic subplot and an overall resolution that is at least reverent to the previous formats. The result is a mixed bag. I found Arthur much more likable and Zaphod funnier than I ever have done, but it never actually occurred to me until the film that Arthur was a bit of a whinger and Zaphod quite boring, because I was too busy paying attention to what happened to them, rather than what they happened to do.

The other major objection, which may or may not have been inevitable, given the time that must be given over to visuals in cinema, is that the filmmakers appear to try and get too much into a two-hour film. As a result, some brilliantly funny lines are missed and key explanations fudged and both are replaced by a general silliness, which appears to be a compromise between the demands of hardcore Hitchhiker's fans and those of the cinema-going public. A lot of the new material is funny, but some of it doesn't really fit with Adams' universe and sticks out like a sore thumb. Whether this is the consequence of those responsible being caught between the rock of Adam's inventiveness and the hard place of the medium they were working in is hard to say. Perhaps someone braver could have produced something more appropriate, or perhaps this is the best that there could ever be. I suppose we'll never know.

To summarise: It's very different.
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Hollywood butchers another great story
dafamcas30 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Are you kidding me? After 25 years of waiting, this is what they come up with? Giant fly swatters smacking Arthur, Ford, and Zaphod in the face while they scream "Waaaaa!"? Apparently the story had to be dumbed down for mainstream audiences: just replace the wit with slapstick. And how about the unnecessarily inflated love story between Arthur and Trillian? Good grief.

Some other notable failures: 1) the very flat deliveries of some of the actors (Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def). In fact, none of the actors seemed particularly adept at comedy (except MAYBE Martin Freeman), or to have bothered with any background reading to figure out how to deliver their lines. 2) the rearrangement of Zaphod's physique (WHY?! They managed to give Zaphod 2 heads and 3 arms 20 years ago on a low budget BBC show...but they can't pull it off now?!). 3) the pointlessness of the John Malkovich character. 4) the chopping of so much funny narration and dialogue to make room for the unnecessary detours (Humma Kavula, Vogosphere). 5) Sam Rockwell's annoying accent. 6) the film makers don't even seem to know that the Restaurant at the End of the Universe is at the end of TIME, not SPACE. 7) the rare presence of the Guide itself in the film. 8) And on and on.

It was even a little bit offensive that they had the BBC cameos (Marvin, Simon Jones, the music from the opening credits) in a shameless attempt to win over the more hardcore Hitchhiker fans. I have to admit, I fell for it. For at least 10 seconds of the movie I wasn't thinking, "Wow, this is not very good."

A couple things WERE good: the Vogons themselves, the Magrathean "factory floor." Marvin was passable.

Watch this movie and then go see the BBC version. If you still think getting whacked in the face after stepping on a rake is funny, or seeing someone slip on a banana peel leaves you in stitches, you'll probably like the movie version better.
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Very Disappointing
Hoopsta4 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I had high hopes for this movie having read the book and the film having received largely positive reviews in the British press.

Good Points

  • The effects were quite impressive. - Stephen Fry's interludes where he narrates parts of the Hitchhikers Guide were the most amusing parts.

Bad Points

  • The pacing of the film was terrible with parts where it was moving too fast to comprehend what was happening, to others where I was extremely bored and contemplating walking out of the movie.

  • The characters had no depth and I didn't develop any feeling towards them at all.

  • A very convoluted story which brushed over or dispensed with significant parts in the book far too often for seemingly little gain.

  • Apart from the narrations from the HHGG the humour in the film seemed almost nonexistent. A mouse saying 'bollocks' got the biggest laugh in the cinema I was in, which says it all really. Not the sort of humour the author of the book was aiming at I would have thought.


A big disappointment, I had expected so much more (but should, perhaps, have known better).
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What has all the fuss been about?
mjluk27 April 2005
First, let me start by saying that this is a funny film.

Like many others, I suspect, I was worried by the MJ Simpson negative review, but having seen the film I can't really understand what all the fuss was about.

Personally, I am very happy that this version contains the new material. I don't want to sit in the cinema watching a line by line copy of the radio play, book, or TV series. Each of those stand by their own merit, and each were good largely because of the new material they contained.

I think the cast did an excellent job, and although Zaphod wasn't quite how I pictured him, Sam Rockwell brought a freshness to the part which largely works. His portrayal of Zaphod as a guy who "thinks he is cool", rather than "is cool" works pretty well, and once you get over the southern drawl, he soon settles as a character. Ford is beautifully played, as are all the major characters.

Admittedly, some of the criticisms that were voiced by Simpson have some justification, but most were simply overstated to support his general vitriolic attack on the "purity" of the film.

In summary, go to see this film and don't worry.

I'm looking forward to the DVD and I have all my fingers crossed for a sequel.

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Those Cheeky Mice And Their Excellent Film
tramsbottom18 April 2005
Overall a tremendous success. It's very funny, very kooky and visually gorgeous. I saw it with about 2000 media persons and we all loved it, which is a pretty hard thing to accomplish.

If you've never read the books (and I suggest you do, it moves at such a pace you might find yourself going 'eh?' a lot) then I don't know what you'd make of it. Think Monty Python in space, or a very British version of The Fifth Element.

As an adaptation I think it works extremely well though there were a few confusing moments even for me as the large philosophical questions were crammed into two hours worth of movie. The new stuff is cleverly done and works a treat IMO.

The cast: never been a fan of the office but Martin Freeman is perfect as Arthur Dent, Sam Rockwell hilariously OTT and Mos Def a surprising choice but one that really works. Trillian isn't that important in the novel and the movie bumps up her role to a love triangle situation between her Arthur and Zaphod. Again, Deschanel is an odd choice (another yank) but she is utterly spellbinding (oh the shower scene...hubba hubba).

The FX are great, both CGI and the Jim Henson creatures (the Vogons, brilliantly voiced by The League of Gentleman). The opening title song is worth the price of admission alone (think Eric Idle at his peak).

So I loved it, though the ending is also a bit of an anti-climax, but only perhaps because I was expecting something bigger. Still, it's p***-funny and that's the main thing.

Best moment: Ford attacks the Vogons with a towel and foils them by closing a tiny garden gate ("Oh no! We'll have to go around!").
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This movie is Mostly Harmless...
Hitsuzen25 April 2005
It's a known fact that the movie adaptation of Hitchhiker's has been up in the air for some years now. Passing from the hands of one director to the next (James Cameron, Spike Jonze and Jay Roach), it wasn't until the idea landed in front of Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith that things truly started to take shape.

Douglas Adams died from a heart attack in 2001, but after reading the books, watching the film and drawing a comparison, it's clear that Adams would've accepted this adaptation of the TV series of the computer game of the radio series wholeheartedly.

Martin Freeman is an inspired choice as the face of Arthur Dent. He's an everyman, his slightly vacant, permanently confused facial expression (which we've all come to recognise from his role in The Office), truly becoming from a man who's trying to make sense of what's Out There, which happens to be similar to, though on a slightly larger scale than what's Down Here. And stupider.

Admittedly, it would've been nice to see more English talent taking on the roles from Adams' well loved creation. Steven Fry is THE Guide, the quintessential voice of logic and good-humoured reasoning in the Universe. Bill Nighy makes a great Slartibartfast, coming across as the kindly, if a little absent minded, genius that I've always imagined. And Alan Rickman providing his nasal drones to Marvin the Paranoid Android worked to near perfection.

That's not to say that the American cast isn't great. Mos Def and Zooey Deschanel are excellent as Ford Prefect and Trillian, but it's obvious that it's Sam Rockwell who's having all the fun, relishing his role as the over-excitable, reminiscently hippie-rockstar Ex-President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox.

So all in all, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a great experience. Non-Adamites will love it, as will the die hard fans. It's such a shame that its creator had to bow out before his beloved creation came to life, but due to his input into the movie script (the character Humma Kavula, played by John Malkovich, was written by him especially for the movie), his enthusiasm still lives on.

Want to go to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe now, please.
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Why would anybody make this ... except for money(???)
Warning: Spoilers
This was a huge disappointment. As a long-time fan of Adams and of the BBC radio and the television version, I was crushed. I actually fell asleep! I watched it again afterwards, still shocked.

The acting was insipid and unbelievable (and that in an epic space fantasy!). Zaphod was way overplayed and unbelievable and the two heads and three arms were just plain wrong. One head could not talk to the other! Who is Ford? Why is he named Ford? Why is he black? Why does he run to Arthur's house with a grocery cart full of beer and peanuts? There is so little motivation in this film for anything! Why is there an entire construction company and 25 men? It was just a little house. Besides, they cut out the dialogue about finding the plans, the basement, the disused lavatory, and the leopard. So, why bother with all the props? Marvin is short and moves quickly and often. This is not in keeping with the character! The great Warwick Davis deserves better.

What a waste of the adorable Zooey! She wants to go to with Arthur? Why? And why would she desire him anyway? BTW, they met at a 'fancy dress' ball. This, uh, doesn't mean weird costumes. Huge mistake #1. Love story where there was none.

Characters drift in and out of continuity. The letter "Z" is pronounced ZEE by Tricia but ZED by everyone else. The planet Magrathea is pronounced variously as magra-THAY-uh and magra-THEE-uh. The excellent narrator does his best to hold things together, but he's no Peter Jones alas, and he's not given the chance actually. The name of the film **IS** the name of the book but the part of the book is hugely reduced.

What's this 'dolphins with musical bit' for the beginning? Of course, *I* knew what it was (stupid and wasteful), but did most of the audience? That's not the beginning anyway. These folks should've followed Douglas Adams -- who wrote the story for radio. They were not "treating" a book here! They were working with output from a man who had a tremendous, albeit unusual, understanding of how to tell a story -- the sequences being especially important to his style. And this story is nothing if not style.

The end seemed to tease us about the restaurant at the end of the universe and then confuse us about at which end it was located. Good grief! It's the end of the universe in time, not location. This huge gaffe #2 is enough for me to hope that these same folks do not get a chance to make a sequel.
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Hitchhiker's Guide is born again!
nick-46722 April 2005
Well, I'm not a film reviewer. I'm not really a fan of film reviewers as their job involves pretending that there is an objective standard that governs how much everyone will enjoy a film (well, some of them are smart enough not to dress their opinion as anything else). Everyone enjoys films in different ways and I like to use my own judgment to decide if a film is worth my time or not (well, that and the opinions of a few trusted individuals who's taste in films is very similar to my own).

So this isn't a review, it's just my honest reaction to the film and you may judge for yourselves if my opinion is likely to be similar to your own.

I loved it. There were a couple of small points that I wasn't happy with but there was so much that I really enjoyed that I left the cinema very happy indeed. It has a very frantic pace, especially when compared to the glacial pace of the TV series. But, in my opinion, it works.

I'll now talk about different aspects of the film.

The Cast. Each member of the cast has brought a new interpretation of their character to the film but they are still definitely the same characters. Martin Freeman is very funny but also very human. He's less of a caricature of Britishness than Simon Jones's interpretation.

Mos Def is an excellent laid back Ford who occasionally has slightly manic (David Dixon style) moments. I don't think everyone will like his delivery of some of the lines as he can be very dead-pan at times but I found him very watchable and likable.

Sam Rockwell's Zaphod is either lovable or irritating depending on your loony-tolerance. I found his over-the-top performance was just perfect for Zaphod, and frequently had me in stitches.

Zooey Deschanel. Mmmm....Zooey. She's the best Trillian ever! She's adorable, funny, charming, intelligent and finally has an emotional depth that was missing from all other incarnations. She works well with both Zaphod and Arthur and their interactions were believable.

Bill Nighy gave a performance that managed to be nothing like Richard Vernon's yet at the same time definitely Slartibartfast. Very funny. Very human.

Stephen Fry is someone who I new would be good. He has the intelligence needed to get the delivery right and a mysterious gentle voice (like God has popped round for a cup of tea).

The Effects, sets and puppets. Wonderful. I loved the Vogon puppets, it made them seem much more real than any CG character (yes, even Gollum). The sets looked great and there is one nice tracking shot down a Vogon corridor that shows just how huge the set was. Every set is packed with detail, I cannot wait for the DVD. The Magrathea 'factory floor' is breathtaking - especially on the big-screen. Zaphod's second head isn't brilliantly executed but it didn't bother me much.

The Guide entries. I'm a big Shynola fan. I was extremely excited when I learned that they would be doing the guide entries. I wasn't disappointed - the guide entries look great and are packed with the inventive wit that characterises Shynola's work. The way they visually interpret the words of the guide entries is very clever and matches the wit of the original animations in the TV series but with a more modern approach.

The Music. The Dolphin song at the start was wonderful. Call me a softy but a couple of the lines nearly brought a tear to my eye. The music for the guide entries fit really well. The new orchestrated version of Journey of the Sorcerer is great. I was too wrapped up in the experience to really notice the music, I'll have to see it again (or buy the soundtrack)! Editing. The film flies along at an incredible pace but for me it never suffered from the 'why are we here now?' problem that some film (The Phantom Menace) suffer from. I really couldn't tell you how someone new to Hitchhiker's Guide might react. The destruction of the Earth is particularly well handled, managing to be both funny and moving.

Stuff I didn't like. Not much really. Part of me craves for the inclusion of things that other parts of me recognise will make the film less effective. One thing that I felt was a shame is that certain added plot elements make the story less bleak. These plot elements actually come from later books in the series so they weren't un-Hitchhiker-y but they contributed to a more optimistic story than I am familiar with from other versions. But this is a minor quibble and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the film. Though I really liked Zaphod, I didn't really like the second head. It didn't work as well as it might have. Still, it was preferable to a shoulder-mounted permanent extra head - which would have been wrong for many reasons.

Conclusion. It is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reborn with a new energy. It is lighter than previous incarnations but still retains most of what I love about the story. It also adds a brilliant level of visual inventiveness that matches the aural inventiveness of the original radio series. People expecting the TV series but with better effects will be disappointed. This is a new beginning. The Hitchhiker's Guide is alive again, it is an enormous shame on a galactic scale that Douglas isn't here to enjoy it. The huge applause after the film showed I wasn't alone in having a good time.

Also, the film contains my favourite line. It previously only occurs in the second radio series (as far as I know) and is moved to a different occasion but I was dead chuffed when I heard it!
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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.
Charli Morgan27 April 2005
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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JulianMHall22 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Regrettably I can't select lower than 1.


To those of us who remember with fondness the original series (indeed I have the full set on DVD) this is an insult.

Of course the director has to compact the original down from three hours and as such it can be expected that some corners are cut. However there are many problems with this that make it not a patch on the original classic upon which it is loosely based.

1. The whole extra section of Trillian's capture and rescue was extraneous and irrelevant to the plot. About half an hour was wasted on time that could have been spent on classic scenes which were instead cut to make space for this dross.

2. All, not just some, but all of the classic lines were either cut or delivered so badly that they just weren't funny.

3. To call the characters "flat" is to waste a perfect opportunity to use the word "insipid". Douglas Adams created full rich characters with depth, pathos and humour. In this creation, I think the best performance comes from the bowl of petunias.

4. Acting, uh was there any? It comes across to me as reminiscent of a very bad '70s sitcom level. And not funny.

5. Every single joke, example of irony and subtlety became brash and outlandish. Totally "in your face" and lacking the style of the original utterly.

All in all, if you've read this far, save your money and do *not* go to see this movie.

Oh, and if you're wondering what that loud humming noise in the background is, it's the spinning of Douglas Adams turning in his grave.
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read the books, enjoy the radio show - AVOID that movie
donaldnrw9 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well just came out of the movie and uh... I HATED it!!! This Crap definitely avoids everything that makes the books so funny and beautiful to read. The actors are so incredibly bad, I have no words for it. After a mere good start the plot goes from bad to worse. The animations of the book itself were much better even in the 1981 TV series (which has a lot of bad SE but is much more on the hook of the book than this new bullshit). there are so many lost opportunities e.g. right at the beginning where Ford gives the workers some beer to stop them destroying Arthur's house instead of convincing the head worker to lay down in the mud instead of Arthur. All the important things were not really explained (e.g. the need of a towel - they just say you need one but are quiet about the "why") Before seeing it I thought that it's impossible to shorten the plot to a 109 minutes and unfortunately I was right. too bad and too sad... I really do hope they will NEVER do a sequel to this. The end credits start with "to douglas". I think if he wouldn't have already been dead he would surely die after watching what they made out of his masterpiece.
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a disappointing film on many levels
michael dye30 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this flick opening night with some friends who are big fans of the book. I have not read the book, but have only heard good things. I was hoping this film would capture the brilliance of Adams' work as it's been shared with me. Unfortunately, the film failed to deliver. This flick really has no plot. Most of the film's events come as complete surprises; I suppose that randomness was supposed to add to the *wackiness* of the whole experience. It quickly became nauseating. In this case, I wish I'd watched ANY of the advertised films in the trailers instead of the feature film. That's a HUGE claim: "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl" was in there .. {shudder}.

The characters in the film are empty and shallow. Sam Rockwell's character was mildly amusing at best, Marvin (the Jar-Jar Binks of the movie) was predictably dull, and the Vogons were just lame. I really didn't care about any of them, so being a part of their adventure was really boring; the love story was horribly ill-developed, The President's search for the question of the meaning of life and the universe was trite, and the mouse experimentation explanation for the existence of the Earth was, well, stupid.

Let's take inventory at this point ... the film lacked both a plot and interesting characters. How does a movie redeem itself when it lacks these two essential elements, you ask? IT DOESN'T! There was no one to like and nothing to be interested in. I'm serious, people, you'll find yourselves staring at the floor, playing with pocket lint, or perhaps making a mental shopping list during the showing. We're talking about streaming nonsense ... take a pillow or a book, perhaps a deck of cards: you'll need something to pass the TWO HOURS it'll take for this disaster to wrap itself up! In the process of editing this flop, someone should have realized that there is no substance to the film and promptly cut out 30 minutes of what we'll generously call "content." I wanted so badly to like this film and have it be good that I waited through the entire thing for it to turn itself around. What a disappointment. Honestly, "Future War" and "Cyborg" didn't get 2 hours to torture me, why did this film get special treatment?

I suppose the worst part of the film is that it's a disgrace to the book. Leave it to Hollywood to take something interesting and original and, in an attempt to package it for the mass stupids, ruin everything appealing about it.

It's at a time like this that I wish I had a genie in a lamp and 3 wishes: I'd first wish that the producer and director of this film were forbidden from making more films; second, I'd wish that this film be taken from the theaters immediately; and third, I'd wish for the film to be rewritten with only two characters: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and that it be released on DVD as not one film but as an series of films about their travels through the galaxy. This way the public will know what the film is really about, and can judge it as absolute garbage without having to see it for themselves.
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Just not funny- not in the slightest.
Don29 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
To put this movie in perspective- I walked out half way through. I've never walked out on a movie before- not even Battlefield Earth.

That said- perhaps I should explain myself: Douglas Adams was a master at writing short and witty dialog- so the obvious thing to do in a movie adaptation is to throw it all out and replace it with... nothing. Scenes have been added and other scenes thrown out but in the end- the movie just is not funny. The seemingly random plot of the book is just plain senseless in the movie.

Throughout the movie I just kept asking myself why certain scenes were changed and lines removed. If it made sense to advance a movie plot- fine. These changes though were just completely random.

Instead of a hysterical scene in which Ford Prefect convinces a put-upon construction foreman to lie down in the mud in front of a bulldozer (because, logically, Arthur has to go to the pub with Ford and _somebody_ has to lie in front of the bulldozers) you have a scene in which Ford Prefect simply passes out cans of beer. Is this funnier? Does it make more sense? Does it advance the plot in some way... NO.

Worse still- the scene in which the construction foreman explains to Arthur that the plans have been on display and he should have filed his grievance earlier.

The version in the movie is:

"I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"But you found the plans, didn't you?"

The version in the book is:

"I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the Display Department."

"With a torch."

"The lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But you found the plans, didn't you?"

"Oh yes, they were 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'"

The movie version is 10 seconds shorter but about 10 million times less funny. Why? There are so many more things wrong with this movie I can't begin to list them all. I completely understand that Douglas Adams use to change the story with each new adaptation but they all had one thing in common- they were funny. This movie is simply awful.

The only redeeming parts are Marvin (who although he looks stupid is at least sort of funny), the guide itself, and the yarn characters.

Please do yourself the favor and do not bother to see it. Or if you do go to see it at least expect a movie even worse than Battlefield Earth.
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a very major let down
grumpy-326 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
well its been a long wait and all for nothing, this is everything the film should not be, badly made, loud and bombastic, and mostly wrongly cast, freeman is just not right, rickmans voice is good but not in a body of a four foot round robot, also he and everyone else speaks to fast, that's one of the major problems is the pace is too fast. there is no sense of story/characters/involvement. i do not believe adams would have approved he held out all his life, ever wonder why. the director has no idea of how to construct a movie. the invented bit of trillion getting captured by the vogons is a complete waste of time. the opening song supposedly sung by the dolphins has to be one of the worst songs written. and the ending is beyond belied. there are one or two decent bits but they are far outweighed by the overall badness and misconception of this sorry enterprise
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Mostly harmful
yastepanov11 June 2011
If you LOVED the radio serial and the books, AVOID THIS LIKE THE PLAGUE! All of the puns, the fun with language, etc. has been removed to replace it with showy but senseless special effects.

I heard the original BBC Broadcast, the recordings (which differ) and watched the BBC TV adaptations. ALL of these caught the sense of fun with words which the movie totally ignored.

This bastardization of the books, etc. gave me a pain in all the diodes down my left hand side...

It's not that it was that bad -- it was that it was so much worse than could have been done with the budget.

Nearly all the characters had been changed in personality except Arthur, where adding a personality would've helped...
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Much worse than the BBC TV series
jenny27 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As a kid in the early 80's I enjoyed Douglas Adam's books immensely, & as any school kid did at the time learned whole passages of THHGTTG verbatim. If only there had been an end of year exam I may have gone on to university. Fast forward several years (or decades - I don't remember) and I have just walked out of the British premiere of the new movie in Leeds (a first for me). Lacking any of the subtlety of Adam's humor that made the radio shows and book so popular in the 80's and acted as badly, if not worse than the TV series, this movie is a horror. It is obvious that the producers have never made a movie before; the plot is a mess the whole thing chops around all over the place with bits thrown in for no apparent reason like the Humma Kavula & Questular Rontok characters. This movie is lazy, sloppy, badly shot, and grainy - looks like it was shot on digicam. I kept waiting for the film to settle down and find its rhythm however it never did, nor did it look like it was going to when I walked out whilst Arthur & Trillian were taking a shower. I cannot really think who could have pulled off a movie of HHG maybe Terry Gilliam, The only saving grace is a cameo by the original Marvin from the BBC series. Truly awful. I don't know why I bother Oh my God - Funny, how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse it suddenly does.
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Yes and No
didi-529 April 2005
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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Adams must be spinning in his grave
compwitch28 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly, if you're an Adams fan, don't, please don't waste your money on this travesty, for it is a savaging of Adams' work which must have him spinning in his grave like a catherine wheel. I was (un)fortunate enough to have free tickets to a preview screening last night, and I had honestly been looking forwards to it, and went with an open mind. Five minutes into the film, my mind was beginning to shut down, from sheer despair.

To start with (oh Gods, where to start? ), all of Adams' witty dialogue has been excised, and replaced with truly lame one-liners and slapstick. (Yes, you can definitely see the Disney influence.)All of that wonderful nonsense which made the radio series, and the books, and the TV version, what they were has disappeared forever into the void. The story, as we know it, has also been savaged to the extent that whilst most of the main characters remain - broadly - the same, you might be forgiven for thinking you had mistakenly wandered into a screening of Galaxy Quest meets Spaceballs. Whatever it is, it is NOT Adams.

Gone is the excellent exchange between Arthur and Mr. Prosser, gone is the philosophy of the towel, gone Milliways, and Disaster Area, and the B Ark, and don't even ask me about the Infinite Improbability Drive! Instead, we have slapstick and a level of humour which might have been OK for The Love Bug, but is sadly deficient for this material.

There are three redeeming features which enabled me to give the film a rating of two (rather than a negative score), namely: Mos Def's performance as Ford Prefect, which, given the bathetic level of the script, was excellent.

Bill Nighy's portrayal of Slartibartfast, which was, IMHO, even better than Richard Vernon's.

The whole Magarathea shuttle sequence, which is visually stunning, and easily the best part of the film.

Sadly, these were mostly effaced by the film's defects, and as a lifelong (his, not mine) Sam Rockwell appreciator, all I can say is, "Sam, less is more". It's easily his worst performance ever. On the whole, with the exception of the three caveats above, I would expect anyone who had a hand in the production of this film to be deeply, deeply ashamed of what they've done to one of the funniest works of fiction ever produced. Lets leave aside the utter mangling of Adams' philosophy, and the fact that the director completely missed all the salient points of this, the film JUST AIN'T FUNNY. Hardly a ripple of laughter disturbed the silence of the cinema last night, and people leaving afterwards exhibited the same shell-shocked expression that I'm sure was plastered on my face.

I left the cinema feeling that something precious had been utterly despoiled ( not helped admittedly, by the fact that the "opening" of the M77 had meant travelling both ways at 7mph). If you love HHGTTG, savour the existing versions, for if you watch this, they will be tainted by it's banality.
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Apathetic bloody planet
Liam21 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Last night I was at the world premiere of the new HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy film, in Leicester Square, courtesy of the BBC's H2G2 competition. Front seat rows, bang in the centre. Nice, though a recipe for neck ache that even the free towel on the back of the seat couldn't prevent… I don't have the privilege of coming to HHGG with a fresh view, and it's always going to be difficult to compete against three hugely successful previous formats of the same work. But if I did, then I suspect I might have left the theatre wondering what all the fuss was about. As it was, I can see that the film was its own beast, though I was left flat by the parts that most closely mimic the TV series, partly because the jokes are now 25 years old, and well known to me, but mainly because they didn't do them as well as other versions.

And for a series that always excelled in all three formats on carefully honed dialogue, there was a throwaway element that leaves me scratching my head wondering how it got into this state. Example : When Arthur is lying in front of the bulldozer about to demolish his house, and the foreman is telling him that the plans have been on display for weeks, Arthur's reply is that they were in the basement. Now, HHGG fans know that this is the start of a comic battle of wits which is essential to getting the most out of the Vogon's "Apathetic bloody planet" comment later. But here, the rest of the dialogue is skipped. Now I know that the movie is shorter than the series, and so cuts of some parts were inevitable, but as it is, the cut isn't deep enough. What is left serves only as a placeholder for your memory of this episode, and for people new to HHGG it is an irrelevance that could have been skipped all together. Either the placeholder is deliberate, or, perhaps, the whole scene was recorded and the sense of it ended up on the cutting floor. I was left with a similar feeling during the Deep Thought recording.

Before any other criticisms though, the good bits. 25 years is a long time in CGI terms, and the vogon construction fleet is a marvel. As the camera pans up the simply stupendously huge ship, and you realise it is one of thousands surrounding the earth, you can't fault the directors visual ambition. And that visual style compliments the humour inherent in the story, from the shape of the heart of gold, to the vogon's microphone. I.e. not simply a rendering of the words in the script. Those bits of the movie which are brand new have the power to excite; the point of view gun being the one which is most likely to pass into legend. Martin Freeman is a convincing Arthur, though not one ever likely to say "I seem to having a tremendous problem with my lifestyle" - which is presumably why he doesn't. Sam Rockwell as Zaphod is hugely entertaining, though as he plays half the movie with only half his brain, you do get a little tired of his antics. John Malkovich as Zaphod's former political opponent is a great cameo, it's just a shame it doesn't seem to fit in very well in this film.

As for the rest of the cast, Mos Def as Ford Prefect never really comes to life, and Zooey Deschanel while enchanting never comes across as a astrophysicist. Perhaps because she never gets the chance to say she is an astrophysicist, because if Sandra Dickinson could convince in that role, then surely anyone could? While reviewers have given Alan Rickman's Marvin a thumbs up, I find him more sarcastic than depressed, a worry I had before the film began. Even the vogons - wonderfully brought to life by Jim Henson's Creature shop, seem to lack bite. Had the office clerk had more of the, say, Roz from Monsters Inc about her, it would have worked much better.

As for the book, which is wonderfully voiced by Stephen Fry, who shows an obvious delight at working on this film, the graphics themselves are a mixed bag and don't seem to have much in the way of consistency. While the "messing around in hyperspace" graphic is brilliant, the rendering of the "finite probability machine" party is in a completely different style from anything else, it seems.

Perhaps the biggest gripe of all though is that the Golgrafringham B ark is completely missing. I've always considered this essential to the book, and to Douglas Adam's vision - the earth as a huge computer with an equally huge flaw… In this film then the Earth is what it is supposed to be, and it is the universe that is chaotic and arbitrary. Adam Douglas's genius was to mimic what he saw on earth on a grand galactic scale, and this film glosses over his inspiration.

Is it as good as it could be? Definitely no. The directors have been brave enough to take it on, and they should be given credit for that, but you do wonder if it would have been sharper if Douglas had been around to see it through. Overall, I'll give it 5 out of 10. 6 maybe if someone goes on to invent that bread cutting knife…
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Don't Panic
Edithasta Fleegle19 April 2005
It is wonderfully refreshing to see an intelligent adaptation of a well-loved book which manages to be innovative and highly entertaining. I saw the film last week, and after having seen the television adaptation as a child I did not have my fond memories shattered. The eccentricity of the story and characters have remained intact, and the Monty Pythonesque humour has been enhanced with even more surreal flights of fancy. Although funded by the US, this is a very British film and those who are fans of the new Dr Who, League of Gentleman and Little Britain are well catered for here. The film will not appeal to everyone, but those who love the book and intelligent, original comedy will have a fantastic time.
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This is a good and faithful recreation of Hitchhikers
amachalepis22 April 2005
This is a good and faithful recreation of Adams' brilliantly sketchy radio series. Not surprising as Adams wrote the screenplay and was on the verge of having his dream realised when he suffered a fatal heart attack. A fitting credit at the end of the film "For Douglas" serves as a gentle reminder of the genius we have all lost. As for the film, many of the original and wonderful lines thankfully remain and the plot is largely unchanged. There's a new character or two written in for the film by Adams himself and they add to the overall story. John Malkovich is great albeit very briefly as religious leader Humma Kavula. Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Martin Freeman all carry off their characters with wit and style whilst I felt Zooey Deschanel looked a little out of her depth. At times her dialogue seemed to get lost and her character seemed weaker than Sandra Dickinson's interpretation in the radio and TV series. Bill Nighy marries his own idiosyncrasies into the character of Slartibartfast seamlessly. Simon Jones makes a welcome cameo appearance as a holographic warning system. Stephen Fry steps well into the shoes vacated by Peter Jones as the "Guides" voice and you feel as if you are in safe hands. The "Guides" animated sequences are wonderfully reminiscent of Saul Bellow and though simple they are hilarious. For a feature directorial debut Garth Jennings does a grand job. I was half expecting the pop video influence to be apparent, but thankfully it wasn't. Lastly but not leastly a special mention has to go out to Jim Henson's creature workshop, this is probably the best work they have ever done in a feature, and that's saying a lot, given their success.
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A trip to nowhere
antgrey14 February 2006
I am NOT a Hitchhiker nut. I HAVE read all the books, heard all the recordings and seen the TV series though and I thought they were among the funniest and most original stuff I have ever read, heard or seen.

This movie however was a total disappointment.

The meandering, pointless and ultimately uncompleted story line. The total over use of effects. The utter waste of acting talent. A real stinker of the very first order. Most of all it simply wasn't funny. Not all, in any way.

The essential 'Englishness' of the plot (petty officialdom, fussing over tea, trying to make sense of a world gone mad etc.) was non-existent and the characters were not even slightly explained or fleshed out - the entire premise of Hitchikers was based on its characters.

There are so many faults it's depressing. This was an ego exercise that flopped badly. A total non-event and a complete waste of time, money and talent. What a pathetic and lamentable legacy for one the most talented writers of modern times.

Avoid it like the plague.
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Golden turkey pf a film - watch the original series.
1bilbo9 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
My problem with this movie is that I actually care about the originality of the superb BBC series and the terrific originality of Douglas Adam's writing.

Like many, many others I was captivated by the original BBC radio series and then the TV series. The radio had 12 episodes but the TV series only ran to the first 6. There was a wonderful dry wit that Peter Jones gave to the original series as the narrator plus the entire script was peppered with absolute original gems.

This film has none of that – some overpaid nerds with zero sense of humour have hacked through the original treasure and removed everything of value and replaced it with nerdish, unfunny dross.

Leave this alone – watch the original and enjoy, again and again.
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paonasheso5 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I know that every marketing research, every focus group and ever comity will say "You have to have a love story! Love should save the day etc" but this is a very nice book written by a guy with great humour and a very important writer. What we don't need is another great book or story turned is into a "boy saves the girl, they fall in love, love is stronger than vogons and they live happily ever after". Enough.

Adding bits and pieces to make for a nicer movie is OK, but changing the whole plot, taking out every clever or controversial bit, and adding your own, not so successful, plot elements or gadgets of is way beyond that.

I mean, really, is "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" about how Arthur falls in love with Trilian, rescues her from the Vongons and Marvin saving the day using point of view gun ?

If you haven't read the book then you probably enjoyed a nice comedy, lots of nice scenery etc but there are lots of films like that. This particular one was supposed to be "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which should be about the story in the book with the same name, and definitely be a lot more than what this film was.

It's a shame that every major film based on a great book or comics book should suffer the same treatment: remove any of the plot that might require any significant amount of thought to follow, remove any controversial elements, add stupid jokes of your own and make it all a big love story.

What I don't understand is how anyone who's read the book could vote with anything above 2 or 3. As the "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" it fails, as an original film its about average. Special effects and photography was OK though.
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Douglas Adams spinning in his grave
imdb-64018 May 2005
This movie is clearly an attempt to solve the U.S. power crisis by making Douglas Adams spin in his grave at high speed.

Take the BBC TV show, add (mostly) good actors and special effects, then take out random parts (frequently the punchline) of the various jokes from the books, and throw in a standard Hollywood love story while making the actually funny parts that hadn't been already completely butchered feel so rushed that they might as well have cut those, too.

The opening number was a bunch of dolphins singing "so long and thanks for all the fish." It was absolutely sickeningly sweet, and made me want to walk out of the theater right there. Unfortunately it only got downhill from there.

Go get the BBC TV version instead. It at least retains the humour of the originals.
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