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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The 2005 movie directed by Garth Jennings

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A disaster that may have Douglas Adams spinning in his grave.

  • Apr 28, 2005
Rating:
-3
Pros: Good Premise

Cons: Lousy FX, zero chemistry, lousy pacing, and stale jokes.

The Bottom Line: A total disaster.

Making films from books has always been a tricky proposition. For every film adaptation that hits it big such as “Jaws” “Lord of the Rings” and “The Silence of the Lambs”, there are several that fail to work or are downright disasters such as “The Bonfire of the Vanities”.
In the film “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the late Douglas Adams first book in his classic series has finally arrived on the big screen after many delays getting started and a successful version on PBS.

The film stars Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, a simple, easy going fellow whose entire goal in life is to stop the demolition of his beloved home from those who want to put a new highway in its current location.
As Arthur attempts to block the demolition, his good friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), arrives and stalls the demolition with free beer for the work crew. Thinking he has been saved, Arthur is puzzled when Ford takes him to a local pub and buys rounds for the entire pub, saying the world is ending in a few minutes.

Ford in reality is an alien visiting the Earth and learns that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a new galactic expressway. Before he knows what has happened, Arthur is whisked away seconds before the destruction of the Earth by Ford as they end up on a ship of the demolition fleet.

After a series of bizarre events and a narrow escape, Ford and Arthur end up on a passing ship that has been stolen by galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who just happens to be the lady of Arthur’s dreams and who is also unaware that the Earth has been destroyed in the short amount of time since she left Earth to explore with Zaphod.
As if this was not enough, the ship also has a depressed android named Marvin (Warwick Davis and voiced by Allan Rickman),

It is at this point that the film goes horribly wrong as the amusing and interesting setup quickly goes nowhere. While the crew is sent on a series of quests, each becomes less interesting than the one before it, and the very bland production values of the film are exposed. The sets are very basic and look as if they were borrowed from many of the budget driven British Sci-Fi that frequents PBS. Somehow the idea of an alien room being nothing but a rusty wall and a slapped up sign just does not cut it for me. At times I thought I was watching a home video production done by fans or another late night B movie rather than a major studio summer release.

As bad as the sets were what is even more amazing was the at times laughable attempts at visual effects where it was obvious that the actors were standing in front of screens as the matting lines were visible.
I tried to put a lot of this off to the idea that the film was trying to be quirky in keeping with the book, but quirky is not an excuse for underwhelming effects, basic sets, and lousy costuming and make up effects as I half expected to see zippers on the costumes of many aliens that looked like they were cobbled from parts at a hardware store.

So now that I have covered my issues with the look of the film, let’s look at the story itself, in a word, boring. I could not believe how dull and lazy the film became, and how the staff seemed to be going through the motions. The cast has zero chemistry and Rockwell is so frantic that his character is annoying to watch. After five minutes of his rock star in the spotlight style shtick, I wanted to strangle the character or at least get him on some serious medication.

Director Garth Jennings also has many scenes that simply go nowhere or drag on only to cut at odd times resulting in a complete and utter lack of pacing.

I am a big fan of the book series and I had very high hopes for this film. Sadly the disaster that resulted may very well have Douglas Adams spinning in his grave as his classic work was destroyed. I have to wonder how much of his original draft for the script that was used as the basis for the film survived.

While extreme die hard fans may enjoy the film, even they are likely to be disappointed and I can only hope that if they try to make the next book in the series, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, they do a much better job then this effort, as this is one awful film adaptation.

1 star out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbah


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More The Hitchhiker's Guide to the ... reviews
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
Rather different from the books, but has some excellent new bits. Adams was very into having several conflicting versions of the story and worked on the screenplay before his death. Well worth watching, as long as you don't panic about the inconsistencies.
review by . September 04, 2008
If you haven't read the book   Skip this movie, do not look   You'll scratch your head, and then you'll yawn   Without a clue what's going on     And even if you've read the tale   The movie version's pretty stale   Half way through it'll be your wish   To leave, and thank them for the fish     Like Vogon poetry it's so boring   It'll have the entire audience snoring   How many'll …
review by . March 17, 2009
I love the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. I love the radio series. I love the unabridged audiobooks. So I was very, very excited to hear that there would be a big-budget film adaptation at long last.    It was the most disappointing experience of my life.    I hardly laughed once during this fiasco. It simply fell flat on every note. I know, I know, I'm too demanding; fans always are. But this wasn't just mediocre. It was dreadful. Painful!    If …
review by . August 20, 2008
I watched this crap a few years ago and I gotta say its one of the worst comedies of all time.  It was full of lame scenes that tried to be funny but instead got you asking yourself "was that lame scene supposed to funny?"  Anyways I'm glad I watched it online and didn't pay for it cause I would've been pissed if I wasted money on this crap.  Hell, I want my 2 hrs back for watching this poor excuse of a movie.
review by . April 01, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I must let people know first that I knew absolutely nothing about this stories past or history so this was the first time I heard of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but no disrespect I'm just a little young. The film is a bit long but as a newcomer to this story it's very hard for you to get bored of it because it has so much imagination. It's a movie that will definitely make you use your brain but it's something that isn't for everybody. I like that it was not the same old movie you always …
review by . December 07, 2005
Although many people who grew up either reading the books, watching the TV series or both will probably be upset with this film adaption, I have to admit that I really enjoyed this work. Although I've never read any of the books, I did watch the series on PBS when I was growing up.     With that in mind, this film was very pleasing to me. Sure, it's slow in bits and doesn't make sense most of the time, but neither did the TV series. In fact, "Hitchhiker's" was never really meant …
review by . November 16, 2005
First of all, I am a total devotee of the Hitchiker novels in particular and all things Douglas Adams in general. I was crushed by his premature death because one of the truly original thinkers and commentators on the inherent bizarreness of the universe was gone. I had very deep reservations about whether the novels could be brought to the screen by Adams -- let along anyone else. However, Adams had apparently completed substantial parts of the screenplay at the time of his death. As astute as …
review by . September 02, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
After seeing the previews for THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and listening to several friends discuss the books and the movie, I knew I wanted to see the film for myself. Before doing so, I also made sure I read the book, knowing ahead of time that each adaptation of the witty, semi-story has been different. Then I proceeded to the cinema to see what would be in store.    I was rather impressed. There are several things done in the feature film that have no connection to …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #107
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie

Wiki

Don't panic! After twenty years stuck in development (a mere blink compared to how long it takes to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has finally been turned into a movie. Following the radio play, TV series, commemorative towel, and books, this latest installment in the sci-fi-comedy franchise is based on the screenplay and detailed notes by Douglas Adams.


Hitching a ride.

For those unfamiliar with the story, everyman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up one morning to discover that his house is set to be demolished to make room for a bypass. Little does he know the entire planet Earth is also set to be destroyed for an interplanetary bypass by the Vogons, a hideous and bureaucratic race of aliens realized in the film by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Whisked off the planet by his best friend, alien-in-disguise Ford Prefect (Mos Def), Dent embarks on a goofy jaunt across the galaxy accompanied by his trusty Hitchhiker's Guide, which looks like a really fancy PDA.

The guide itself provides some of the funniest bits of the movie, little animated shorts that explain the ludicrous life forms and extraterrestrial phenomena our heroes encounter. Along the way Arthur meets the two-headed party animal/president of the galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and develops an unrequited crush on fellow earthling Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). The creatures and sets are inspired and answer to the sci-fi fan's...

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