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5 Things I Loved About 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' (and 5 Things I Didn't) [Movies]

H is for Hitchhiker's. I'm a huge fan of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and when the movie came out, I was just as excited as everyone else. In the end, I thought the movie was a mixed bag for fans of the novels, BBC radio, and TV mini-series. While they got a lot of things right, some elements felt wrong. Overall, though, it's one of my favorite movies. I think it was a matter of expectations. You wait twenty years for a movie and it can never live up to it. Here are my five favorite bits and five least favorite bits.

1. The End of the World - I loved the destruction of Earth as well. The jumpy cuts zooming out farther and farther, ultimately showing the huge block spaceship, then the hundreds of other spaceships in orbit, then the spaceships engulfing Earth, followed by the "poof" of Earth being disintegrated in the center is just my only vision of the destruction of Earth.

2. The Music - The opening song, "So Long and Thanks For All the Fish" would have delighted Adams. And the banjo solo was great. Up until that point, I was disappointed that they didn't use the classic song in the intro. And then when you hear the "Journey of the Sorcerer," it just made my heart leap. Awesome.

3. Costumes and Makeup - There's no question that the costumes and makeup were nothing less than awesome. The Vogons were there in all their slimy, ugly glory. Marvin the Paranoid Android looked futuristic and pathetic at the same time. Zaphod's garish outfits and even Arthur Dent's dressing gowns all looked perfect.

4. The Casting - I thought some of the cast marveled. When the original novel was written, Zaphod was a grungy space hippie.  Sam Rockwell as the new Zaphod was more like a politician, a male model who was all smiles with nothing underneath. He wasn't the traditional Zaphod Beeblebrox, but he was a new Zaphod Beeblebrox that I thought fit well. Martin Freeman was the perfect Arthur Dent. 'Nuff said.

5. The New Material - Some of the new material written for the movie like Humma Kavula, Ford's first encounter with a Ford Prefect, the party where Arthur and Trillian met,  and the POV Gun were all wonderful additions to the series. The journey to Vogsphere was brilliant. The scene of the creatures that slapped them in the face had me rolling.

Now for the bad:

1. The American Accents - This was probably the movie's greatest sin, casting most of the actors as American. While there's nothing in the novels that indicates they should be British, Hitchhiker's is a thoroughly British series. To turn so many of them into Americans seemed like turning its back on the movie's source.

2. The Casting - While some of the cast worked, I thought others didn't. Zooey Deschanel is cute, but she just wasn't the bombshell she was described in the book and portrayed as in previous incarnations. As for Mos Def, Ford Prefect is not Mos Def. Period. It's not even the fact that he's black. It was the fact that Mos Def played the part so straight. In the novels, Ford was always a drunken madman who seemed crazy even by the standards of a crazy universe. Mos Def acted like he belonged on Earth, not in outer space.
3. Zaphod's Head - Zaphod's second head was probably one of the biggest disappointments for me. Zaphod is supposed to have two visible heads, not a head in his neck. I understand why they changed it. The puppet head on the TV mini-series was kind of lame, and it would have been expensive and difficult to achieve even with CGI, but Zaphod just isn't Zaphod without two heads.

4. The New Material - As much as I enjoyed some of the new scenes, I would have given up the trip to Vogsphere and Humma Kavula to see more of the original material, like the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and the Golgafrincham spaceship. It left me impatient to get back to the original story and even felt like padding, and when the movie ended, I felt cheated.

5. The Ending (SPOILERS) - I think what disappointed me most was the ending. I understand that they wanted the movie to end on a happy note. But bringing back the Earth in the first movie closed off most of the storylines for the rest of the book series, which revolve around the still-destroyed Earth. It was like the movie itself was saying this would be no more Hitchhiker's movies.

Did you ever see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? What was your favorite bits? What were your left favorite bits?
[Image Source: splendidandlovely]

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  1. The man with two heads looks familiar. I remember watching the show long ago.

  2. i am familiar with the film, not the show... i think i need to catch up to both... again... i enjoyed the score. though if there was a theme, they should have kept it... think of dr who with a song about time travel...

  3. I enjoyed it for the most part and I guess it was wise to bring back the earth since they weren't going to make any sequels. Why end on a bummer? I think Mos Def was a huge bummer; he seemed to be sleepwalking through the whole movie. There had to be a better rapper/actor they could have found somewhere if they wanted to go that route.

  4. The movie was part of what made me fall in love with Zooey Deschanel. So I really can't agree about that. She was integral to the success of the whole thing for me.

  5. I know it's a cliche, but the book was better

  6. Sleepwalking is a good way to describe his performance

  7. I agree that Zooey is cute, but she's not Trillian. She played Trillian like a goofy nerd, which I never thought she was in the novels

  8. This is spot on. However I think HitchHiker is an unfilmable novel - Douglas Adams' humour works better in longer formats such as novels or radio/TV series (or that insane text adventure) - so many times this film starts off a joke but doesn't see it through to it's ridiculous extreme conclusion, and trying to compress into a typical film arc (e.g. Arthur and Trillian getting back together at the end) doesn't feel right.

    For the record the film does a few other things right - I loved the sequence where Slartibartfast (quite well cast) takes Arthur through the Magrathea factory floor / Earth 2 under construction.

  9. I'm not sure she's a convincing sci-fi actress in the way that, say, Noomi Rapace is turning out to be an awesome sci-fi actress. She was great in 500 Days Of Summer but maybe she just picked the wrong film...

  10. Saying in public that the books are better than either the radio series or the computer game is a crime punishable by Vogon Poetry (usually commuted to death)

  11. This was a nice post, Mo. I didn't mind this movie all in all. Some bits worked. Other bits didn't. But by in large is was a pretty so-so affair.

    By the way, did you know that Douglas Adams wanted Monty Python member, Graham Chapman, to play the role of Arthur Dent?


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