The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (*½)

Posted on May 4th, 2005 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

Oh, what might have been. Great source material, big budget…pretty good casting…fair acting…somewhat lazy directing…un-involving characterizations…completely unfunny script…no sign of the wit and humor of the source…all this equals a complete waste of time and money.

Where to begin? Poor Sam Rockwell, perfectly coiffed and costumed as Zaphod Beeblebrox, chewing up the scenery as befits the character. But with no script he’s like a toothless abominable snowman, all sound and fury signifying nothing. Martin Freeman, very everyman-y as Arthur Dent, but his blandness should be contrasted against a backdrop of adventure and excitement, but it isn’t, so he’s just boring. Zooey Deschanel as Trillian is…transparent. Mos Def as Ford Prefect is…struggling with and without his accent. Alan Rickman as Marvin the depressed robot is just whiney. John Malkovich (Humma Kavula) and Helen Mirren (voice of the computer Deep Thought) are just wasted in their semi-cameos.

The effects are clean and crisp, but unimaginative and unoriginal. It looks like they took Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Fifth Element, put them in a blender and then poured the whole thing over Galaxy Quest. It may be that we’ve reached the saturation point where original and creative space films are no longer possible, but I doubt it. It just feels like a lazy, slapdash amalgamation where everyone assumed that since it was based on great underlying books that it would somehow all work. It doesn’t. The producer has no clothes.

The story just lays there. It’s unexciting and un-involving. I think a mistake was made in that the creators of the film looked at the books and thought that their success was based on the actions of the characters, when in fact the books are so wonderful because of the subtle absurdity and wit of the characters and situations. The books are about the adventures of Arthur Dent in space in the same way that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is about the adventures of King Arthur and his quest for the grail. The quest is a backdrop for all the silliness. In the movie version of Hitchhiker’s Guide, the adventure *is* the story, rather than being the backdrop.

So, yawwwn, another big-budget, soul-less, overblown, saturation-marketed, franchise-ruining movie has been made by Hollywood. I really don’t know why I expected anything different.

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