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 (Martin Freeman), 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 blown up 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
Shada, the prison "planetoid" of the Time Lords, can be seen in the background during the factory floor scene on Magrathea. Doctor Who: Shada (1992) was a Doctor Who (1963) story that Douglas Adams wrote but was never completed for television due to a strike at the BBC. Characters and settings from "Shada" appeared in Adams' novel "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", which recycled ideas from his serial Doctor Who: City of Death: Part One (1979). 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, there is 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 »
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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