Anthony's Film Review
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Though not as great as I expected, at least the spirit of the original story is maintained...
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the classic humorous science-fiction story by Douglas Adams, had existed as a radio play, a television mini-series on the BBC, a novel, and a computer game. Yet, it would be several decades before H2G2 became a feature-length motion picture. Not that it's a bad thing. After all, spending more time on developing a film is a chance to make it as great as possible. Plus, the appeal of this story, I imagine, would last for years to come, so there's no rush to getting it released into theaters. Then, of course, there's the opportunity to stimulate new interest in this story.
Even with this potential to be a memorable piece of work, the 2005 release of the movie version of H2G2 is just an OK movie in my opinion. If you're looking for laughs, particularly the most notable jokes in Douglas Adams's story, you'll certainly find a few here. I think the movie's main problem is that the story itself is funny at its core, but the cast playing the characters don't seem to put much effort into being funny. As a result, the execution of the jokes either falls flat or barely generates a smile. The exception, though, is the voice of the titular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as it describes the various absurdities of our universe.
I will still give the cast credit for one thing: fitting into the roles they're given. It's not like Martin Freeman was a bad choice to play the Earthling named Arthur Dent, whose house and planet are destroyed by the Vogons. The same is true for rapper Mos Def as Arthur's alien friend Ford Prefect, Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, Sam Rockwell as the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, Alan Rickman as the voice of the depressed robot Marvin (with Warwick Davis as the actor physically in costume), and Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast. Not once during the movie did I ever think that one cast member was poorly chosen.
The movie certainly keeps the central story of H2G2. Following the destruction of Earth, Arthur and Ford join Trillian, Zaphod, and Marvin on an adventure towards the planet Magrathea and encounter a variety of strange things along the way. For example, there's the improbability drive that can turn one thing into another. In a brief but funny scene, their ship and everyone on it turns into yarn so that you see the characters as animated yarn figures. And of course, there's the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything. (Hint: what do you get if you multiply seven by six?)
On top of this, there are parts that are totally original and not seen in any previous version of H2G2. The most notable ones are a sequence in which Trillian is held captive by the Vogons and the final scene that I guess was written to make the film end on a positive note. Naturally, one wonders if the original story was altered by a Hollywood screenwriter who wanted to leave his own mark on an established. It turns out that Douglas Adams wrote the first draft of the script and actually conceived much of the new material. So if that's the way he, the creator of H2G2, wanted it, then I'm OK with it. Even so, the story as I remember it from the novel and the BBC series was a lot funnier.
So there you have it. This version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a little bit funny and certainly engaging enough that I never felt the urge to switch to another movie. If you're a fan of Douglas Adams and his classic story, it's possible that you may like it. (Still, if you really want a great adaptation of H2G2, check out the BBC series.) As for what Douglas Adams would think of this film, we'll never know since he already passed away years before its release. Still, I think he would approve each bit of the movie, especially the last second of the movie that momentarily shows his face. It's a nice tribute to him and his funny contribution to the genre of science-fiction.
For more information about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the television series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.