Alright. How was it? Well, let’s just start off with this: The phrase “never speak to me about this movie again” is not applicable. The phrase “it had its moments” is. Care to see more detail? Come inside. Spoilers, as always, inside ugly font tags.
For Production info, please see IMDB
Marvin. Absolutely, Marvin was perfect. My wife swears he was just too cute, but Alan Rickman’s voice just completely made the character. I have a few other points that are NEAR high, but not quite top – the point where they enter Magrathea’s factory floor was a close second, and the dolphin’s song and dance number was unexpected and entertaining. In fact, I’d say it was the only major addition to the story that didn’t feel like it was inserted without any regard for the original plot.
Where do I begin? Well, really, there are only a few that qualify as REAL low points. First, the casting of Ford Prefect. Mos Def was HORRIBLE. No sense of timing, no comedic skill, and a complete lack of understanding of the character. Second, the love story between Arthur and Trillian. Aside from the fact that it was unnecessary, it felt shoehorned in and was handled with complete incompetence from a writing perspective. Oh. In fact, nearly every addition to the story that was new to the story felt like that. The ending where they put the earth back as it was, the “let’s steal zaphod’s head and send them off on a side quest for a something that’s going to save them” bit, the “let’s completely change the way the galaxy is run” bit. Bah..
Alright, so I’ve already had my little rants. Let’s start with what they did right. For all that we’ve heard about “they forgot it was supposed to be a comedy” that we’ve heard, the truth is, they didn’t forget. Completely. Part of the problem – a lot of it, actually, was Mos Def’s complete inability to be funny. Flailing around and acting weird is not “alien” or “funny”. Ford was funny mostly because he was sarcastic and extraordinarily relaxed, even when heavily weird. But they did TRY to be funny. All the bits from the book were, again, done fairly well. While I may prefer the graphic style from the tv series, the graphic style for the movie was reminiscent and, nicely enough, presented what we might actually imagine the user interface for book like the Guide to look like. The voice of the book hearkens back to the original series’ and Arthur does a fairly good job of being confused, bemused, and attempting to grow without actually really doing so – except where the aforementioned love story takes place and he has lines to deliver that are almost as bad as the love story between Anakin and Amidala in Episode 2. Yes. That bad.
Marvin, as I said, was perfect. Something about that little robot with that weary, depressed voice – it was too perfect. Alan Rickman knows Marvin, and manages to turn in a performance anyone can get behind while managing to not simply mimic the original voice.
Vogons. Vogons, too, were perfect. Completely bound by forms, bureaocracy, and general ill-temperedness, they managed to be unpleasant and formidable without being evil. The lunch break was the perfect touch.
What did they do wrong? Well – they start out strong, but suddenly the original material seems…more like a guide. Pun intended. Veering off on tangents – rescue missions, love stories, turning up at planets for no explainable reason just to start a sub-plot that doesn’t really go anywhere – so many things that they could have done, but they decided to mix things up, change things around. And somehow, in the end, it has a LESS satisfying finish than the book! I think I knew there were going to be problems as soon as Ford came rolling down the road with a cart full of beer and then proceeded to take Arthur to the pub. What genius wrote THAT?
Originality? You’ve got to be kidding me. Even if I could give it full marks after being the movie from a book from a radio show with a TV production already on DVD, the hackneyed Hollywood crap they threw in here to make it “accessible” absolutely kills any last vestiges of claim they have to it. 1/6
The Effects were excellent. If you want to SEE the story as never before, by all means, go see this movie. A lot of the effects were gratuitous, but they were still good. On point that bothered me was Zaphod’s arm – it was more than slightly off. Knocking a point for that – something they should have gotten right or left off considering what they did with his head (shudder), 5/6
The Story falls below even the standard set for the Guide’s previous incarnations. The added sub-plots and side plots make for a convoluted, incomprehensible mess. 2/6
You already know my feelings about Ford, but the rest of the Acting was fairly good. Zooey Deschanel has more than one moment that just falls flat, but on the whole she’s better than the blonde from the Show. Zaphod – well, he’s just this guy, you know? Unfortunately, he’s played as this REALLY STUPID GUY. I’ll give Sam Rockwell the benefit of the doubt and suggest that this was a directing issue, not an acting issue. Slartibartfast was *perfect*, Arthur was acceptable, and many of the minor characters were on the money. We have a case here where the minor actors were far better at their roles than the major ones. (if only they’d taken *my* advice for Arthur and Ford…). I give the acting 3/6. For the sake of the minor characters.
The Production was, for the most part, quite good. Unfortunately, directing falls under this category, and most of the problems I saw were either writing or directing. However, I can’t take away all their points because they did do an excellent job with the designs – I’ll even forgive the fact that the Heart of Gold looked like a golfball instead of a running shoe. It was still pretty. 3/6.
The Emotional Response – well, it was a cross between disgust, amusement, and relief, really. My amusement should have been higher, my disgust should have been lower, and my relief should have been MUCH higher…but there you are. The one that counts here, though, is humor – and that’s, sadly, only a 4/6 for this one, folks.
Overall – well, overall, this only really rates a 2/6. Don’t go see it unless you’re a die-hard Hitchhiker’s Guide fan, OR – if you have no familiarity or attachment to the books in the first place. And even then don’t expect much. Bah.
In total, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (movie) recieves 20 out of 42. I really wish it were higher. But I’m really glad it’s not lower.
It’s been a great week reviewing these with you, everyone. I wish I could’ve ended on a higher note – but I’ll be back, with new and interesting things. So long, and thanks for all the fish.