Friday, April 29, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - movie

Yessss...I saw it last night, and I'm still undecided about it.

I think the majority of my conflict boils down to the fact that I am somewhat of a purist. The original radio play I have almost memorized (it's been a long while since last hearing it, due to the tapes wearing through), the books I've read many times, and I own the TV series.

Perhaps if there hadn't been a TV series that stayed loyal to the dated british feel of the radio play, that hadn't provided me with all my visual images already, the movie would have faired better.

I already knew I had image conflict from the trailer. The man cast as Arthur Dent looked exactly like Ford Prefect to me, Marvin looked like he was designed by Sony, so did the Heart of Gold for that matter, a Zaphod barely had his extra head and arm feature. But these were fairly easy to shrug off.

For me, the movie swung between clinging slavishly to the original, and diving off in a totally different direction, two polar opposites that kept jerking me around for the duration of the movie. Again, this is probably the purist in me speaking. Having the play memorized means I expect the lines delivered in a certain way from a certain voice.

I did appreciate some of the changes to the story they made. Giving Arthur Dent character developement, and an arc of his own, tied the movie up quite nicely. I was worried about how they were going to do that, seeing as radio plays operate on not having any sort of tie up at all. (SPOILER: and the fangirl in my cheered when he and Trillian had a smooch.)

That said, the rest of the story wobbled and teetered around all over the place. The randomly introduced villian, Humma Kavula, appeared, made threats and bargins and...was never spoken of again. Never saw him again. Not entirely sure what the point was with that one (SPOILER: other than the removal of Zaphod's second head, which I think the script writers thought was too much hassle). The Vogons made much better antagonists, although their bureaucracy swayed between insanely slow and insanely fast. I didn't grasp Zaphod's motivation to get to Magrathea, or why any of the others went along, or exactly why the Magratheans were going ahead with Earth Mark II, given the mice weren't interested in it.

That said, the movie did look good. Jim Henson's studio did a wonderful job on the Vogons, and although they don't look anything like I imagine them, and are ridiculous more than terrifying, they're brilliant. The mass chanting of 'resistance is useless!' made me all sorts of happy. Their ships (whilst not being yellow) were lovely ugly clunky things, and featured the jewel-encrusted crabs and dewy-eyed gazelle-like creatures of their home world. Dead and crushed. I'm not sure that waving a towel at them will have as much effect as it did, but it was amusing to watch.

The factory floor of Magrathea took my breath away. Just gorgeous.

I'm not sure that the most popular selling book in the galaxy would function soley on flash animation. I'm fairly certain they could afford something better.

Fan girl moments included that first twang from the banjo, the whale (Bill Bailey!), and a cameo from the original Marvin the Paranoid Android.

I think...in the end...and I dread to say this, as it is more condeming than saying the film was bad...I think...for me...the film was forgettable. It had its moments, but overall I neither loved it nor hated it, either of which would have left a deeper impression. That won't stop me acquiring the DVD, or seeing the sequel (as if there isn't going to be a sequel) when it comes out, but I think I'll stick to the radio play for now.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely. The bit that was awesome was when the original theme played and the book opened up. I think I'd go back and watch it again just for that.

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