Hitchhiker’s Guide: Continues

I really like Hitchhikers Guide, a lot. I’ve read all five books and listened to the radio series on CD far too often. I then put them on my iPod and listen to them regularly. I’ve got the original TV series on DVD, it replaced my VHS copy…Recently things got moving again with a new radio series and the long-awaited movie…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Tertiary Phase

The original radio series was published on CD imaginatively titled the Primary and Secondary phases. The radio series continues this tradition with installments packaged as the Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential phases.

Making the new radio series was an arduous task for Above The Title who, despite the 25 year lapse since the original production, managed to get the original crew involved from their various diverse locations with the sad exceptions of creator Douglas Adams who passed away in 2001 and the narrator of both radio and TV series Peter Jones who passed away in 2000. Listeners can take some solace in knowing that Adams had put a large amount of work into the new series before his death including recording his own scenes as Agrajag as well as the excellent job by Bill Franklin as the new voice of the book.

It’s very enjoyable although the plot doesn’t move very far over the three CD’s, the story entirely being based on the people of Krikkit, their history, and the universes fate but it is a very fitting continuation to the series. Ford sounds a little odd but then if I sound the same in 25 years I’d be surprised…

Rating: 4/5

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Movie

Okay, where to start…

Casting

Mostly good with everybody managing to fit into the roles although I’m not sure Ford works, he was a research geek in the book and TV show but Mos Def just seems, well, too cool for the role. As much as I like Stephen Fry his voice just doesn’t work as a narrator, it’s not deep and rich enough after years of enjoying the radio series but I guess we can be thankful it’s still English. Bill Nightly’s performance seemed stilted like he had forgotten the words or perhaps was just doing a Christopher Walken impression.

Visuals

Fantastic sets and while I was a little apprehensive about shape changes to Marvin and the Heart of Gold they worked okay on screen and didn’t distract much. The new Hitch-Hiker logo with the planet rings and a thumb is just fantastic and the flash style guide animations are not only acceptable but actually funnier than those in the TV series.

Screenplay

Okay, you knew this couldn’t last. The script is bad, real bad. Why do Hollywood insist on picking up the rights to successful books if they are going to rewrite them into something else? It says Hitchhikers Guide on the movie poster and I’ve gone to see it because I love the story. This is not that story.

The story starts with the demolition of the Earth by Vogons quickly followed by our crew meeting up and looking for Magrathea who are building the Earth mark 2. That is about all the film has in common. It eschews clever jokes, wordplay and delicate character interaction for a slapstick, set pieces and a tacked-on heavy romance between Arthur and Trillian which comes across less as romance and more as stalked-across-the-galaxy-by-a-looser. The Arthur of old was a little like Victor Meldrew. Sure he was cranky but generally robust and likable, the script delivers us a less likable whiner who you feel wouldn’t last much longer in space.

For a brief moment I considered the lack of time you get to your story across in a movie but then reflected on how much time they’d wasted on the pretty dolphin intro sequence that ate up several minutes without adding to the story and the stupid face-smacking scene on the Vogon’s home world complete with the famous crabs.

I can’t help but hope that this was not the film the director, writer and cast set out to produce but rather a revised and edited version the film company put out when they didn’t understand what they had. Perhaps in a few years we’ll get a directors cut that will loose the romance and slapstick and put back in more plot and dialog.

Keep an eye open for the cameos including the original Marvin robot from the TV series in the queue to release prisoners and the original Arthur as the face from ancient Magrathea. Douglas Adam’s face flashes up in one sequence, you may notice it if you are still awake.

Rating: 3/5

[)amien

1 responses

  1. Avatar for Matt Ingy

    Just saw the movie today and I agree with you. Although I thought good choices were made in the casting of Marvin’s voice and Arthur Dent. I did consider that it must have been a hard task to cram 5 books into one movie but then again look at Lord Of The Rings. I would have happily sat through 3 hours of a good Hitch-Hiker’s than the 1 and half hours of rushed nonsense that I ended up seeing. I’d give it 2 out of 5 (for FX and Prop Design). It’s a shame - I’m a big fan of the books and TV series. NEVER heard the radio series. Maybe I should download the latest one and give it a listen to cure my brain after watching the film!

    Matt Ingy – April 25th, 2006