Hitchhikers' Guide Review

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Captain's Quarters reviews the new Hitchhikers movie. This is one I definitely want to see. Of course, I said that about Spiderman 2, and that ended up being a DVD viewing for us.

I didn't know Douglas Adams had written the script. It's not common that an author who's been dead for years is the author of the script for a new movie based on his books, so I guess I can be excused for assuming he hadn't written it. I'm usually more of a purist, but if the author himself approves the changes because of what the film medium requires I suppose I can give him that right. I'm sure it could never lead to anything as radical as the vast character changes in the Lord of the Rings films if Adams is behind the changes (and it's not as if changing something from this series is as grievous a moral error as changing the moral character of someone from Tolkien).

Anyway, it looks fun, even if it won't be fun in exactly the same ways the first first four books were. (I say that with hesitation, because even the fourth was marginally fun, paving the way for the fifth one that everyone says not to bother reading, which advise I gladly heeded if I had the assurances that it was much worse than the fourth.)

7 Comments

From what I understand, Adams wrote a screenplay, and that screenplay served as the basis for the current screenplay. So Adams gets co-authorship of the screenplay even though he never even met the person who wrote the current screenplay.

So I wouldn't say that "the author himself approves the changes" so much as I would say that the author had a strong influence in the changes. However, he never even saw the final changes, much less approved them.

I was split on whether to see it or not. But then I looked at the actor list. One of the actors is Alan Rickman, who co-wrote "I Am Rachel Corrie". I doubt that Jesus would want me to contribute to a man who supports the slayers of Jesus's people.

Actors get paid by the job, not by how many people go see the movie, and supporting actors don't even benefit much from the celebrity that comes from being in a successful film (not that your one ticket would make any difference in that anyway).

Alan Rickman is an excellent actor. Just his stuff from Galaxy Quest and Harry Potter puts him high enough in my book that his presence in a film means I'm more likely to see it.

If you really don't want to support the slayers of Jesus' people, you might have to live like the Amish. It's hard not to buy things made in China. Do you think the early Christians had the luxury of not supporting those who killed Christians? Not many of them.

I have the same qualms about Hitchhiker's Guide as I did about the Lord of the Rings trilogy--seems more downside potential than upside potential. I know that a movie can never be like the book, but my expectations still get set too high. Hopefully, rather than trying to reproduce the book badly, the movie takes the best parts that translate well to movies and stops there. That's why the LotR movie trilogy worked for me (mostly, except for the bad job they did on Elrond).

Elrond was fine. It was Faramir that they completely ruined. I wrote a lengthy response to the changes in the LOTR films. There were things I didn't like about Aragorn, Eowyn, Arwen, Denethor, and others, but Elrond in comparison was done very well.

It was the Hitchhiker's series that got me into reading Sci Fi in the first place. And yes, the 5th book was wack.

[edited...]

I've just seen the film. I was a fan of the tv series when i was at school. of course you cannot easily show the series to a young person now without them just sneering at the crappy bbc 'special fx'. however, i believe the comic timing there still works well; i think the dryness of bbc cheap drama befitted Adam's dry englich humour. but as for the film...

i think the comic timing almost always just misses the button. the director does not understand the value of silence within a joke (and thus does not understand Douglas Adams): here the silences are filled with unnecessary dramatic music and general chaos which drowns the jokes. many of the best jokes of the book/tv-series have been dropped. -- many characters have been changed to the point where the surviving jokes don't work. even Arthur Dent's galaxy-quest for a good old cup of tea falls flat in Martin Freeman's sleepy protrayal.

all this is a great shame. when i first read the casting, much of my initial concern was tempered. Freeman has proved himself as a 'buddy' actor. but here i felt no real connection between Arthur and Ford, or even between Arthur and the Galaxy. Freeman seems to wander around mostly unsurprised. --

Alan Rickman as Marvin and Stepehn Fry as The Book both seemed perfect voice choices. however, again their best lines were mis-timed or wrongly intonated. --

also there are a few major script changes that take further edge off Adam's original tone. mainly, a love story. i suppose this is a requirement when you're working with american money. but here, the director (and executive producers) apparently believe that story is more important than the story of the book. The original book and tv-series is a story about the book itself, which here takes a relative backseat. (i think even the book visuals were better in the tv-series 25+ years ago.)

and the rest of the plot seemed needlessly muddled too. i saw this film with a friend who has never read the book, nor heard the radio series or seen the tv series. she did not have a clue what this film was about and she laiughed mildly once.

Enough.

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