Guide stays faithful to spirit of Adams

This article is reposted from an article I wrote for The Technique (official site, Wikipedia article), published on June 3, 2005. (html, pdf).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is everywhere. Google will tell you The Answer To Life, The Universe, and Everything; you might even see someone celebrating Towel Day (May 25). The whimsical yet amazing world and comedic wizardry of Douglas Adams has finally come to the silver screen, after a lengthy wait and a lot of hard work.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tells a story of an ordinary man, Arthur Dent, (Martin Freeman) whose house is about to be demolished to make way for a bypass. Not only that, it so happens that Earth is also about to be demolished, much for a similar reason. Arthur is rescued by his good friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) just before Earth is destroyed-and soon finds himself on a ship in a Vogon constructor fleet.

It turns out that Arthur’s friend Ford is not from Guildford after all (which would explain the accent), but from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Ford is also a writer for the Guide, giving it prominence in the series. This launches an adventure that is very random, or perhaps simply very improbable.

However, the screenplay (co-written by Adams) manages to take many interesting and funny elements and combine them into an enjoyable work.

Die-hard fans will find many elements that satisfy, and newcomers to Adams’ style won’t be left in the cold. Similarly, the visual effects team creates stunning environments (think Earth II) without letting the visual effects become the story, as in some big-budget movies we can probably think of.

The “aliens” are also masterfully costumed, thanks to the Jim Henson creature shop. We can thank them for the Vogons being what they are today. The music is also well-done and compliments the lovable quirkiness of the film; they even remastered the theme from the original BBC series.

The opener was a bit of a surprise for me, but it was well-made; it also demonstrates how random the movie is. Imagine for a second that dolphins are more intelligent than humans and have been trying to warn us of Earth’s impending destruction.

Okay, now turn it into a musical. It doesn’t get much more random than that, kids. That serves as an excellent starting point into what is a very complex series. I was laughing, grinning and happy throughout the movie.

The film’s ending left the story open for the adaptation of the other books in Adams’ five-book trilogy, but given the difficulties that occurred with making just this one, I don’t see it happening. However, if a sequel were to be made, I would be more than delighted.

Don’t panic when you read a flurry of negative reviews about The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, and see it for yourself. It’s more popular and informative than the Encyclopedia Galactica. It’s got more practical advice than your parents ever gave you.

If somebody makes a plush Marvin, the maniac-depressed robot, one will reside on my desk. He’ll find it absolutely horrible there. Be sure to get a copy of the DVD when it comes out, and always know where your towel is.

Andrew Guyton

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