Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Reviewed - Bad -Real bad.

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In summary, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie is a disappointment, especially for fans of the original story. Many of the beloved jokes and lines have been cut or changed, leaving the film feeling unfunny and nonsensical. The new ideas and changes made by the filmmakers do not improve the story and the characters lack chemistry. Overall, the movie is a poor adaptation of Douglas Adams' witty dialogue and falls short in comparison to other versions of the story.
  • #1
mapper
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For all those that wanted this to be a great movie...

http://planetmagrathea.com/shortreview.html

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie is bad. Really bad. You just won't believe how vastly, staggeringly, jaw-droppingly bad it is. I mean, you might think that The Phantom Menace was a hopelessly misguided attempt to reinvent a much-loved franchise by people who, though well-intentioned, completely failed to understand what made the original popular - but that's just peanuts to the Hitchhiker's movie. Listen.

And so on...

It’s bad on a big scale because enormous swathes of the story have been dispensed with - most of the Guide entries, whole scenes - or changed beyond all recognition. And it is bad on a small scale because many, many wonderful lines have been cut or in some cases actually rewritten to make them less funny. Whatever your favourite line from Hitchhiker’s, there’s a good chance that it won’t be in the film. Even if it’s really well-known, widely-quoted, much-loved, very funny - it will probably be absent from the movie. Or if it is there, it might have been changed.

Douglas Adams was a dialogue writer. That was his skill - writing great dialogue. And when he had written it, he would rewrite it again and again and again, changing a word here or there because he knew that good comedy writing is like poetry. It has a meter to it and when you get the right words in the right order it just sounds right and nothing else will do. Douglas’ dialogue was perfect. However, the makers of this film, despite all their talk of being faithful to Douglas’ intentions and ideals, have seen fit to piss about with his carefully crafted, wonderfully quotable lines.

To put it bluntly, they have cut most of the jokes out. I’m not being metaphorical here, they really have, in a very literal sense, removed the jokes from the story. There are scenes where all we’re left with is the set-up dialogue, there are jokes where we get the feed-line but not the punchline. It’s astounding. Occasionally, the filmmakers have actually bothered replacing the jokes but they have replaced them with really, really pisspoor, unfunny jokes; they have replaced them with stupid playground humour and pointless slapstick.

As well as being staggeringly unfunny - and Hitchhiker’s Guide really is one of the least funny comedy films ever made - the film also suffers by having an entirely nonsensical plot. It is driven by convenience and unexplained happenings. Characters just happen to be where they need to be and have what they need to have, even if it makes no sense for them to be there or to have that. Maybe it did make sense at one stage, but the film looks like it has had some heavy re-editing from the version seen in early previews and test screenings.

With a plot that makes no sense, and most of the explanatory Guide entries either missing or so heavily cut that they might as well be missing, I fail to see how anyone who wasn’t already completely familiar with Hitchhiker’s Guide could possibly follow what is going on. And those of us familiar with the story will just be incensed at the way that so much of it has been thrown out and replaced with unfunny, pointless crap.

This just doesn’t feel like Hitchhiker’s Guide. There’s no sense of a big crazy universe packed with weird lifeforms that somehow reflects our own world. Hitchhiker’s Guide has always been a Swift-ian satire but the makers of the movie have decided to ditch all that and replace it with pointless surrealism and crude physical comedy.

It doesn’t help that Martin Freeman plays Arthur Dent as an annoying little prat, that Zaphod has been changed entirely in appearance, character and motivation so that all that is left is his name, and that Ford never gives the impression that he wants to go to a party. Of the Heart of Gold crew, only Zooey Deschanel’s Trillian is at all believable and sympathetic. Bill Nighy is excellent, easily the best thing in the film, but Marvin might as well not be there as almost all of his lines have been deleted or altered.

Stephen Fry sounds like Stephen Fry, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz sounds like Richard Griffiths, and Deep Thought sounds like Helen Mirren really couldn’t be bothered at all. As for John Malkovich, if he wasn’t the movie’s token star value his scenes would probably have been ditched altogether as they are completely pointless. They set up a subplot which is not only never resolved but never even touched on.

Some of the new ideas, such as Malkovich’s character, were created by Douglas Adams himself but that doesn’t make them good ideas. And perhaps some of the rewriting was done by Adams too, but that’s no excuse. In any case I’m quite sure that he didn’t very slightly rewrite his dialogue so that it neither flows properly nor generates any laughs. The movie is packed with little things that will only make sense to fans of the story, but they’re not in-jokes because they’re not jokes. Just mentioning something that is meaningless without having read the book does not make it a funny thing, and only serves to confuse those poor sods who have the misfortune to encounter Hitchhiker’s Guide for the first time in this form.

There are quite a few nods to Douglas Adams himself and although these go some way to making up for the almost complete absence of his name from the publicity, surely a better way of paying tribute to this much-loved, much-missed author would be to not **** about with the sublimely witty dialogue that he sweated blood to create.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie is an abomination. Whereas the radio show, TV show, books and computer game are all recognisably variations on a theme, this is something new and almost entirely unrelated. It’s not even a good film if viewed as an original work: the characters are unsympathetic, the cast exhibit no chemistry, the direction is pedestrian, the pace plodding, the special effects overpowering (lots and lots of special effects, none of them funny mind you) and above all the script is amazingly, mindbogglingly awful. Oh, and they have taken most of the jokes out.

This is a terrible, terrible film and it makes me want to weep.
 
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  • #2
Which gets me thinking, what's the purpose of doing a movie? To tell a story right? Whats the point of having a well known/loved story that you want to make into a movie. To tell the already great story visually? How about when they completely change it to the point the story is not even recognizable short of a few characters and similar plot. PROFIT. We are seeing way to much of this in our days. Take a well known name purely for movie sales. Sickening.
 
  • #3
Not really suprised, it was inevitbly going to be crap, I'll think I'll stick with the BBC TV series thankyou very much (or even just read the book )
 
  • #4
what a depressing waste...thank Zarquod for cable

(jcsd - be sure to check out the radio series that started it all too!)
 
  • #5
As well as being staggeringly unfunny - and Hitchhiker’s Guide really is one of the least funny comedy films ever made - the film also suffers by having an entirely nonsensical plot. It is driven by convenience and unexplained happenings. Characters just happen to be where they need to be and have what they need to have, even if it makes no sense for them to be there or to have that.
Oh my god that sounds so horrible! This is go-... wait, isn't that what it's supposed to be like in the books?
 
  • #6
Smurf said:
Oh my god that sounds so horrible! This is go-... wait, isn't that what it's supposed to be like in the books?
Not really. I read the "long" review; it seems that while the book's nonsense is funny, for some reason they seemed to have taken the funny parts out of the movie's silliness, and are left with, well, a silly unfunny movie (if its anything like the long review).
I'll still go to see it, just in case it's not that bad. :rolleyes:
 
  • #7
I refuse to see it. I knew from the start it would not come out well, and everything coming forth (especially the trailer) supports that.
 
  • #8
The beauty of Hollywood is they can always do another remake. Hopefully for the better.
 
  • #9
Hmmm. Just looking it over it sort of seems like the reviewer is comparing the movie to the book just a little too much, which you obviously can't do as the movie needs to stand on its own. He references how you need to read the book to understand it but that might not be true/ have an effect: I went with friends to see harry potter III who never read the book/ understood every detail but still thought it was a good movie.
/optimist
 
  • #10
ha, never read the book, can't be dissappointed! *covers hears and yells out lalallalalalala*
 
  • #11
Are there movies of the other books in that series? just wondering. :confused:
 
  • #12
mapper said:
Which gets me thinking, what's the purpose of doing a movie? To tell a story right? Whats the point of having a well known/loved story that you want to make into a movie. To tell the already great story visually?
The extreme example of this that just left me shaking my head in absolute perplexity was:

1) Take a great story by Phillip K. Dick entitled 'We Can Remember it For You Wholesale' and

2) adapt it into a so-so movie and rename it 'Total Recall', then

3) novelize the screenplay into a so-so book and release it under the 'Total Recall' title.

:confused: :confused: :confused: :mad:
 
  • #13
I read where Douglas Adams wanted to make the movie back in the eighties with Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. Too bad he never got to make it himself, it probably would have been worth seeing.
 
  • #14
This is a positive review:
http://www.filmfocus.co.uk/review.asp?ReviewID=263
 
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  • #15
Now, the nitpicking, all of which is, be warned, minor:

• The new material featuring John Malkovich goes absolutely nowhere and doesn't really add much to the film. It feels like the dangling thread of an abandoned storyline.
• Just what is Anna Chancellor's character doing?
• I think some coherence has been sacrificed in pursuit of pace. Some things that I understood may not have been instantly apparent to a viewer new to this world. For example, we never find out why the pan-dimensional beings want Arthur's brain. I know, because it's in the book, TV series and radio show. But it's not explicitly stated here, and that's a mistake. Given that the film actually feels a little too short, surely a few more lines could have been left into make things clearer every now and then.
• Ford is a bit underused.
• One of the joys of the radio show is Adams's pleasure in twisting language into all sorts of new and amusing shapes. Much of that delightful wordplay is lost here, and some of the Guide entries are truncated so that they provide information but not laughs, but I suppose that was inevitable.
• The film just kind of ends. It doesn't feel like there's been a big climax, really. Then again, given that Adams concluded the first book where he did simply because the deadline had run out and he handed in everything he'd written so far, I suppose that's strangely fitting.

um, those arnt little things to me, they are very important parts to this story!
 
  • #16
oh my...
and I wanted to see it so badly.

hitchhiker was the best book that's ever happened to me.



i need a towel
 
  • #17
The Hitchhiker series are hands down one of the best things I've ever discovered. I've read them all (as well as Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agencey) repeatedly. These books are well written, intelligent and require the reader's imagination and intelligence. That said, mainstream Hollywood doesn't like these qualities. Lately every movie that comes out has to be very low brow and dumbed down for the audience, everything has to be explained in a simple fashion or else they think they'll lose their audience. Plus action, lots of action. Wouldn't surprise me if the movie was re-written so that Aurther and Ford go on a Vogon killing spree. I am a huge movie guy, but I think I'll sit this one out until it's on Netflix.
 
  • #18
Ill still go see this movie regardless of the negative reviews. Gives me something to do on the weekend of the 29th.
 
  • #19
mapper said:
Ill still go see this movie regardless of the negative reviews. Gives me something to do on the weekend of the 29th.
And, you get a good excuse to drink yourself to oblivion afterwards..:wink:
 
  • #20
Maybe ill bring a book along with me if its that bad... hmmm now what would be a good witty sci-fi type book I could read if this movie blows.

Should bring one anyway to show the kids that this kind of entertainment also exists in paper form.


Hey, what book movie thing you think they will attempt to break next? Enders Game anyone?
 
  • #21
Ender's game is on its way to production; unfortunately, Wolfgang Petersen has been chosen as director.
See, for example:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0400403/
 
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  • #22
Oh why not keep this franchise going. I envision "The Restaraunt at the End of the Universe" being re-written to be a humorous love story. Maybe Ashton Kutcher can play Arther and [insert name of current popular actrss] can play Trillian. The premise behind the re-write would be Arther and Trilian trying to get to the restaraunt but many things keep getting in their way... and hilarity ensues.

Do I need to point out that I've grown tired of Hollywood re-writes?
 
  • #23
If Hollywood needs to rewrite, then they should choose books with a certain glamour (for commercial appeal) but which few has actually read.
Examples:
Walter Scott: Ivanhoe, Kenilworth
Rider Haggard: Mines of King Solomon, Ayesha and so on..
 
  • #24
arildno said:
Ender's game is on its way to production; unfortunately, Wolfgang Petersen has been chosen as director.
See, for example:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0400403/

Bet they are thinking: "Damn! You think Macaulay Culkin too old to play this role? How about the kid that did such a wonderful job in star wars ep1."
 
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  • #25
mapper said:
Bet they are thinking: "Damn! You think Macaulay Culkin too old to play this role? How about the kid that did such a wonderful job in star wars ep1."

:smile:
And furthermore:
Can we get Gov. Arnie to play the giant, or should we go for Dolph Lundgren?
 
  • #26
arildno said:
And, you get a good excuse to drink yourself to oblivion afterwards..:wink:

Since when is an excuse necessary?

Air in my lungs? Ok pass the bottle...
 
  • #27
Does this remind anyone of the movie The Time Machine? When I went to see that movie, I thought it was pretty interesting (despite some potential physical inaccuracies which haven't been resolved), and promptly went off to read the book by H. G. Wells thereafter. Reading the story, it's amazing how inarguably different the book is from the movie. There is barely any similarity between the two. This was rather disappointing, although the movie's plot did seem a bit more exciting than the book...

A while ago, another incarnation of an H. G. Wells novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau was brought to the screen. (I'm not sure if it ever went to theatres, but I found it at Wal-Mart once.) That was an interesting book, but an utterly terrible, atrocious movie. A remake of that would be nice...

Though, it's a shame to hear that the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was reviewed to be such a disdainful experience. It was exciting seeing that it was coming out at first, but now these reviews give support for disillusionment.

War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, is also coming to theatres. Hopefully that's at least in par with the book. It was a good novel, nevertheless.
 
  • #28
Sounds like the many early reviews of Fellowship of the Ring by fanboys who wanted every word and phrase in the movie. I'll judge for myself, thanks. And if I think it sucks, I'll just stick in the DVD of the BBC series when I get home.

Wish I had a recording of the original radio programme.
 
  • #29
Wouldn't be the first time a good book was made into a bad movie - e.g. biblical movies.
 
  • #30
infidel said:
Wish I had a recording of the original radio programme.
Lucky old me..:biggrin:
 
  • #31
infidel said:
Wish I had a recording of the original radio programme.


I've got one better: recordings of Douglas Adams himself, reading the whole series. Oh yes.
 
  • #32
Here is another review:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4461899.stm

Verdict on the new big-screen version of Douglas Adams' much-loved science-fiction novel.

Don't panic - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is not as bad as I had feared. Then again, it is not as good as I had hoped.

Stuck in development hell for the best part of 26 years, Douglas Adams' book has finally reached the big screen - four years after the author's death.

Adams' deceptively complex novels are crammed full of witty erudition, great gags and lengthy digressions, so it was always going to be a struggle to turn it into a neatly packaged two-hour movie.

Understandably perhaps, huge swathes of the novel have been cut in order to make a consistent, story-led film.

At the same time, director Garth Jennings tries hard to retain the comedic essence that so defined Adams' originals.

Beguiling

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy centres on the hapless Arthur Dent, who awakes one morning to find his best friend is an alien, his planet is about to be destroyed and that he is somehow central to a galactic scientific experiment to determine the meaning of life itself.

What marked the book out as more than a mere comedic romp was the density of ideas that Adams managed to distil in the text - everything from handheld computing to existentialism to musings on cricket and maths.

Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and Mos Def The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Rockwell (centre) plays Zaphod Beeblebrox, president of the galaxy
The key characters are all present in the film, with Dent played note perfect by The Office's Martin Freeman.

Sam Rockwell does a great turn as Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed president of the galaxy; Mos Def is passable as Ford Prefect; while Zooey Deschanel is beguiling as Trillian.

As the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android, Alan Rickman perfectly conveys the character's world-weary disdain, despite being woefully underused.

A lot of effort has gone into keeping the film as faithful to Adams' vision as possible. But somewhere in the production process the crew has lost sight of the fundamental aspect of the books - they were immensely funny.

Truncated

The film burbles along at an amusing canter, occasionally rising to levels worthy of a chuckle. But unlike the books and radio series, it rarely makes you laugh out loud.

Some of the original gags find their way into the film version, but they feel neutered or truncated.

Screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, who continued the adaptation work started by Adams, has had to make a number of sacrifices to get the text into cinematic form.

Unfortunately, one of the elements sacrificed is sense.

Martin Freeman and Mos Def in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Martin Freeman (left) plays the befuddled hero, Arthur Dent
Hitchhiker fans will know what is happening, but newcomers will be left scratching their heads at a story that flits from one unpronounceable planet to another - each one populated by equally exotic-sounding characters.

Did I say characters? Hmmm. While Dent is a familiar cipher, audiences will be left clueless by Ford Prefect, bemused by Zaphod Beeblebrox and indifferent to Trillian.

Despite outstanding production design and some fantastic visual effects, overall the film is a bit of a mess. A charming mess, maybe, but a mess all the same.

Did the script veer too far away from the source material or tie itself in knots trying to keep faith with it?

Bizarrely, I think the answer is both.
 
  • #33
I have a dream:
That John Cleese, Michael Palin and the other old buddies of Douglas Adams get together and make a movie worthy of his masterpiece.
I don't think anyone but a university-educated Brit can pull off this story successfully.
 
  • #34
*moves Hitchhikers Guide.. from list of movies to see to list of movies to rent when the come out on video* Thanks for the review. That sounds dreadful to set up a joke and then leave out the punchline!
 
  • #35
Having glanced at IMBD, where the movie has gotten 8/10 (for 284 reviews) and rootentomatoes.com, it seems that the movie might be good after all, even if there are major plot changes.
Perhaps it is a good movie, however the damning review from planetmagrathea remains rather discouraging.
I have just discovered something, though:
The author at planetmagrathea claims that he saw this 31st March; if he wrote his piece the following day, can the whole review have been one of the most cruel April fool's jokes ever concocted??
 
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