The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
normally don't do this sort of thing at Fanboy Planet, or
at least we don't solicit it. But today in my mail box I
got a review from last week's Pasadena sneak preview of
a movie that has me shivering in anticipation -- The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy. Just in case the film needs our advance
hype, here's the review from a reader who wishes to remain
a sneak peek at The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
the other day. I’d hate to overstate it but I don’t
think well-read genre fanboys have had this much
reason to be excited since Middle Earth came to life (live
action life –sorry Ralph Bakshi).
with dolphins dancing as if in an old MGM musical. The film
is faithful to the books, radio plays and BBC TV production.
Well, I can’t really vouch for the BBC TV version;
I never watched much of that. I can tell you that Zaphod’s
double head is achieved in a funny inventive way that shames
the BBC TV’s low budget solution. Which was actually
Rosie Greer’s low budget solution first.
is a key word for this film. A story dependent on an Improbability
Drive begs for clever depictions of the improbable and this
spoiling anything Arthur Dent’s space sickness is
rendered in a visual style which, in all probability, has
never been employed in feature films til now. Arthur is
played by Martin Freeman of BBC’s The Office
fame. Freeman does a great job as the Job-like Dent, if
anything coming off a little less typically British than
the role suggests.
Def seemed unlikely casting as Ford Prefect but makes a
convincing towel-toting intergalactic guide. He invokes
a not quite human quality that is subtle and used sparingly
to better effect. Def is most definitely delivering on the
promise he showed in his
feature debut Where’s Marlow?
design of Marvin the Robot is a pure crack up. Of course
his head is huge, but to have it on such a small body…it
made me laugh just to look at him. Inside the suit the credits
tell us is Warwick Davis. Good thing the credits say so
because you’d never know it. Was it really necessary
to get (arguably) one of the two most famous and veteran
little people actors to wear the suit and not speak? Is
there some particular body language Davis can deliver that
another actor couldn’t? Not that I saw.
is voiced by Alan Rickman. At first I thought he wasn’t
quite right for the role. But he delivers exactly what you’d
expect. That’s good but I couldn’t help wondering
if there wasn’t another voice that would have nailed
the depressed droid’s personality a bit more.
Rockwell delivers the nicest surprise in the casting. His
Zaphod Beeblebrox, the man lacks the brains to be president,
becomes a biting satire of a certain cowboy commander in
chief. Rockwell goes over the top but how could he be Zaphod
if he didn’t? After all, Zaphod’s just this
guy, you know?
Deschanel is lovely to look at and believable as Trillian.
Her eyes sparkle and you can see the chemistry between her
and Arthur. But it’s a restrained chemistry. That’s
probably the British style.
book itself is also a star of the film. Fans of the books
might fear that some favorite bits would get left out for
being too… well bookish. But this film is not afraid
to employ narration (by Stephen Fry) over utterly clever
graphic depictions of the information contain in the titular
tome. The animation is these sequences is bold flat colors
a bit like the instructions for how to evacuate a plane
in the event of a water landing only much, much funnier.
that has has us bouncing about the galaxy had better capture
a feel of the epic and this one does. The FX used for giant
ships and strange planets are great. And Slartibartfast’s
tour of the planet building factory is deliciously dizzying.
I was thrilled at how well this film captures Douglas Adams'
masterpiece. But then maybe I shouldn’t have been
surprised. Guide had the advantage of previous
radio and TV adaptations – practice runs of sorts.
And then the film is co-scripted by the late Adams himself.
tried to avoid too much detail because I’d hate to
spoil this fantastic ride for anyone. But one last comment.
The Vogon world is amazing. I was so glad the creatures
weren’t CGI inhumanities. CGI characters are beginning
to do more and more things well but I’ll bet slothful
comedy is one of the last hold outs. If these creatures
weren’t built at Henson's Creature Shop they've got
some keen competition and the sets for the Vogon evoke Terry
would have seemed a natural choice to direct this film.
He certainly would have nailed the Byzantine bureaucracy
of the Vogons and risen to the challenges of production
design. But he may not have achieved the odd lighthearted
whimsy that director Garth Jennings keeps in the foreground.
The wonder at the sheer fun of it has always been a big
part of Hitch Hiker’s
appeal to me. Occasionally I tore my eyes away from the
screen to watch my date delighting in the discovery of the
wonder of Douglas Adams' humor for the first time.
that last point, I think even the uninitiated will deeply
enjoy this film.
and yes, the film’s end more than hints at a sequel.
you have it. If you have any feedback, contact me and I'll
pass it along.