THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
UK, US. 2005. Sci-Fi
Director: Garth Jennings
Cast: Martin Freeman (Arthur) , Zooey Deschanel (Tricia), Mos Def (Ford), Sam Rockwell (Zaphod), Alan Rickman (Marvin – voice).
Popular culture favorite.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the fictional works that has had the most influence on the genre and popular culture. Created as a radio program in 1978 for the BBC by Douglas Adams, with a very English sense of humor. Adams reviewed concepts about technology and science advances and profound philosophical questions. HG2G, for short, has been adapted to a host of other formats. Books, TV series, comics, video games, and of course, a film in 2005 directed by Garth Jennings.
Same story, but different.
This film adaptation maintains the same original story, but as in every other adaptation, Adams freely made substantial changes around it. Arthur Dent is the typical English middle man who through his friend Ford Perfect, an alien researcher who wrote the guide, is rescued from the destruction of the earth by the Vogons since the planet needed to be removed to install a space highway. This leads Arthur to live endless space adventures, along with characters as varied as Zaphod Beeblebrox, the eccentric galactic president, Marvin the paranoid android, and Tricia, another terrestrial that Arthur had previously met and who through Zaphod also escaped the destruction of the earth
Influences and 42
The clear influences of two other classic British shows like «Monty Python» and «Dr. Who» are evident in the story. This is no accident, as Adams was a writer on both of them. The film presents one of the central themes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the search for the correct question to the answer of “42” when the original question was the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” Adams passed away in the pre-production part of the film, but he worked on the script, and the introduction of new characters and concepts that we can see in the movie are all his creation.
Not enough laughs.
Unfortunately, the result was not on the same level as the books or the radio show. Although the movie is a comedy, and it certainly keeps the viewer in a good mood throughout its duration, there are not genuine moments that make you laugh out loud. In addition, the story is presented in vignettes, and although it gives versatility to jump from one situation to another, this same format affects the narrative. The movie doesn’t seem to bring us an ending. The story only stops. So many concepts included that they didn’t quite know how to solve all of them.
Many things done right
Martin Freeman is ideal as the bland and simple English middleman Arthur. Sam Rockwell gives an over-the-top performance as the self-centered air headed Zaphon. Zoey does well as the dismissive Tricia, but Mos Def is completely nondescript like Ford. Marvin’s voice, with all his sarcasm, is excellently characterized by the late Alan Rickman. The special effects have aged relatively well. The overall production design is skillfully done convincingly presenting different planets and ship interiors. But it is the diverse and grotesque space creatures, created by Jim Henson Creature Shop that are the main attractions.
Worth giving a try
Although the film has a lot of fan service and maintains the essence of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy universe, it does not hit the mark completely. Hitchhiker thrives on chaos but takes that same chaos to some formal things in the story. Some of the plot points are entirely forgotten and never resolved. There is humor and witticism, but no laughter. But it is still entertaining and enjoyable enough, in addition to having several creative elements that make it more than worth seeing. Fans of English humor, Dr. Who and Monty Phyton cannot miss it.
Maintains the essence of the saga and has several aspects done right. Plenty of humor but no laughs.