The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Knowing that Douglas Adams co-wrote the script gives one certain hopes but that is never a guarantee. The story opens with regular guy Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) awakening to find today is the day they tear down his house to make way for a bypass, little does he know that saving his house is irrelevant as on this same day the earth itself is being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass…ahh, the irony. Enter Ford Prefect (Mos Def) a galactic alien hitchhiker, and friend of Arthur's. Knowing of earths impending fate he seizes Arthur and hitches a ride off the planet, so the adventure begins.

Hurtling through space they are saved from certain death by Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) who are on the lamb after having stolen a newly developed space craft. Defying all odds, an overall theme for the film, their saviours happen to be Ford's semi cousin and Arthur's love interest from earth, respectively. The hardest thing to translate from page to screen is wit, of which Adams has plenty and this film has little. While I can accept that it is a challenge to translate all the clever details of the original story, certain key facts that could have easily been worked in were omitted. For example the character of Trillian is extremely at ease with the ship's controls, the film fails to inform you that she holds a degree in math and astro-physics.

They set off on their quest, and come across Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) a character created specifically for the film by Douglas Adams. Now here is where things start to fall apart, the story becomes distracted and attempts too many different directions, leaving many questions unanswered. The newly added character serves very little purpose in the film and it is clear by the end that his role will only become important in the sequel.

The strengths of this film involve the use of a narrator, a strong cast, and very effective special effects and puppetry. The narration throughout is key to amusing the audience with the hilarities found in the hitchhikers guide, which is otherwise barely mentioned. In fact, the narrator is responsible for most of the films laughs. I will also give full credit to the films cast, I found Martin Freeman (best known for his work in the brilliant British series "The Office") was a perfect fit to the role of an average man having a bad day, and I was quite amused with the comic timing of hip-hop artist Mos Def.

I have an infinite respect for special effect driven films that do not rely solely on computer generated imaging. In this case the films antagonists, a race of bureaucrats called Vogons, are beautifully brought to life in the Henson family tradition. Even the larger than life computer effects blend seamlessly, thus never jarring you from the galaxy being created on-screen.

In all, it is clear that the groundwork is being laid for a sequel and you are left wanting a more complete introduction. The end product is a relatively amusing film that will appeal to the whole family, specifically the younger members, and will disappoint those who turn to Adams for that deep guttural laugh and layered storytelling.

Special DVD Features:

-Deleted Scenes
-Fake Deleted Scenes (Way, way too-far-out outtakes)
-"The Making of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
-2 Wholly Remarkable Audio Commentaries – Executive producer and Douglas Adams' –Colleague Sean Solle; producer and actors

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