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180 out of 277 people found the following review useful:

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.

8/10
Author: Charli Morgan from London
27 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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113 out of 154 people found the following review useful:

Hollywood butchers another great story

4/10
Author: dafamcas
30 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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145 out of 223 people found the following review useful:

Just not funny- not in the slightest.

1/10
Author: Don from NY, United States
29 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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222 out of 387 people found the following review useful:

Don't Panic

8/10
Author: Edithasta Fleegle from United Kingdom
19 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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104 out of 161 people found the following review useful:

Much worse than the BBC TV series

1/10
Author: jenny from Afghanistan
27 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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87 out of 133 people found the following review useful:

a very major let down

1/10
Author: grumpy-3 from london
26 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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168 out of 296 people found the following review useful:

This is a good and faithful recreation of Hitchhikers

8/10
Author: amachalepis from United Kingdom
22 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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62 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Very Disappointing

3/10
Author: Hoopsta from United Kingdom
4 May 2005

*** This review may contain 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.

Overall

A big disappointment, I had expected so much more (but should, perhaps, have known better).

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84 out of 134 people found the following review useful:

Apathetic bloody planet

5/10
Author: Liam from United Kingdom
21 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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62 out of 91 people found the following review useful:

a disappointing film on many levels

1/10
Author: michael dye from United States
30 April 2005

*** This review may contain 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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