Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Film Review: The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

One of the things I always wanted to do, either for the Coffee Crew readings or on my own website, was movie reviews(with my own twisted warped point of view, naturally.) Here is as good a place as any to jot them down. So here it is, my first official movie review. (warning: possible spoilers here.)

Review: The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy

First off, let me say this first and foremost: I loved this movie. Was it a masterpiece? No. Did it have a mind-blowing plot? Not really. Was it particularly well acted? Eh. So why did I love it? Because 1) I'm a huge fan of the HHGTTG universe, and 2) They didn't screw it up... at least not as much as I was expecting, and a fraction of the amount they could have. Not perfect, but for the most part, they got it right.
If you are a fan of the series, if you've read at least the first few books, watched the 6-episode mini series, and/or heard the BBC radio broadcast of the Hitch Hikers Guide, or even played the infocom text adventure game, then you know the story, and chances are this movie will definitely appeal to you. If you've never heard the phrase "Don't Panic!", are clueless as to what to do with a Babel fish, or the number "42" just doesn't do it for you, you may be a bit lost with this latest installment of the Guide. This movie tries to stand on it's own while keeping remarkably faithful to the original material; however without some background knowledge of the story, the characters and even the Guide itself, newcomers may find themselves wondering what the heck it's all about. Scenes and concepts that naturally flow together in the mind of veteran fans may seem disconnected and random to the average patron. Naturally (being the former) I can only give my opinion in the gleeful subjectivity of an avid fan. And I won't even apologize for it.
The movie roughly covers the content of the first book (or first 3 episodes of the miniseries), occasionally straying from the original material to connect the dots left open due to time restraints of a feature film. Unfortunately it's difficult to tell the story of the Guide in the 1 1/2 hour span of a film, and because of this the movie feels crammed, as though they are trying to jam in as many jokes as possible. Much of the brilliant writing and dialog between characters tends to simply get lost in the rush to get it all out. Also, the addition of a love interest between main characters doesn't really fit into the whole "Guide" story; I assume it was put in to appease those that would otherwise be completely lost as to what's going on.
Despite this, there was much included for the fans of the Guide. Snippets of familiar sound bytes; cameos of several actors and characters; even the occasional appearance of the late Douglas Adam's likeness. And let's not forget the main attraction: the Guide entries themselves. There was much concern that these would be left out, in favor of a more cinematic blockbuster feel. Have no fear, the Guide is in, and as campy and endearing as ever. Rather than update the entries with fancy computer generated 3-d holographic images, the producers chose to stick with the basic line drawing feel of the original series which, in my opinion, makes it that much funnier, given what today's technology would have allowed them to do.
So, the bottom line is: If you're a fan of the guide, this movie doesn't disappoint. If you're not, well, nobody's perfect.

Paul's Movie Ranking: 7.5 out of 10

1 comment:

rassmguy said...

Yeah, I agree -- it's a great film from a Hitchhiker's standpoint, but not a great film from a "great film" standpoint.

In other words, there's a lot they could have done differently to make it a better film. But as an adaptation of Douglas Adams' classic book, it's largely done right.

And I will always love the people made of wool and the talking sofas. Pure brilliance.