Call me Russ L

I know where my towel is.

Posted in Films by Russ L on 7 January, 2006

Originally posted on 13/5/5.

Yesterday I finally got around to going to see the film of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. A fair bit of trepidation led to the delay. I’m a big fan of the Hitchhikers canon/of Douglas Adams, but given the rapid decline of his enthusiasm for a film version when he was alive I was a touch nervous about this. I’m not really into going to cinemas, either, as I’ve said before.

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way before we begin. Firstly, a lot of people will moan/are moaning because “it’s very different to the book/original radio play.” Well… fucking duh. What, I ask, would be the point of making a film if it was going to be exactly the same as the book? Why not just read the book, in that case? What is the point of creating a version in (name any medium here) if it’s going to be identical to the (name any other medium here) version? Some people…

Secondly… yes, this film has some expensive (no doubt) special effects. Very good. For those of us who don’t stand agape at flashing lights and whiz-bangs, I’ll continue.

Right then… actual thoughts. This may seem to contradict the prior two statements, but only if you’re stupid (just being honest). It had to go and be a bloody FILM, didn’t it? It had to go and have overdelivered lines, sporadic bursts of massive overacting, and big loud noises/music at annoying moments in the interests of supposed drama. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen thusly hacked by Hollywood, but it had its moments.

The rat-a-tat-tat pacing of it was also to its detriment. They tried to fit a hell of a lot into the allotted time, and a lot of things were given insufficient chance to develop or explain themselves. Quite a few set-pieces that had existed in all of the previous versions were included but rushed (the Vogon poetry section springs to mind). It would have been a lot better to just leave them out (although I do appreciate that the film-makers were in a difficult situation – the more you cut out, the more ammunition you give to the mongs mentioned in ‘firstly’ above. Who cares, though?). Worse still, a lot of actual ideas were undercooked. Zaphod operating on his own brain, the malign intentions of this new Humma Kavula character – both hinted at but not explained. The whole idea of infinite improbability – which is absolute fried gold for a film-maker, excusing whatever Deus Ex Machina and massive co-incidence you may want to bring in to your picture – was skimmed over with only the briefest attention.

This is not to say I hated it. There were a lot of good points. Martin Freeman was absolutely fantastic as Arthur – he did, admittedly, play it in exactly the same way as Tim from ‘The Office,’ but in that worked perfectly. Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast and Sam Rockwell as Zaphod also worked well. Having the dolphins’ final message to mankind delivered as a big Broadway number was a nice touch. I really liked the vogons–as-civil-servants jokes, enmired in that particular bog as I personally am. Some of the Hitchhikers in-jokes were really good, too – I nearly leapt from my seat in joy when I saw the original (the real) Marvin standing patiently in line.

Yeah, I did like it overall, even though I would say there was plenty wrong with it. I’d hazard a guess, though, that if I wasn’t already a big Hitchhikers fan I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all.

I should add that I was happy with the finish. Call me soppy, but sometimes it’s nice to have a happy ending rather than just an infinitely improbable one…

~ Russ L

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2 Responses

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  1. on30guy said, on 7 January, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    Sounds as if you were at least entertained. And that, by the way, is the point of a movie!

  2. Russ L said, on 8 January, 2006 at 11:20 am

    Oh yes, of course. It’s just that I’m a curmudgeonly git. And I do expect quite a lot from anything connected to ‘Hitchhikers,’ fairly or unfairly.

    Thank you, by the way, for the first comment on this new version of my blog.

    ~ Russ L


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