Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide

While many would argue that George Lucas or even Gene Roddenberry lay claim to the most recognizable Sci-Fi franchises ever created, I have a sneaking suspicion that many a wannabe Jedi were willing to lay down their flashlight-sabers and take off their Vulcan eartips just long enough to don their most favored of towels and head to theaters to see the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. Familiarity with this distinctly british sci-fi series by Douglas Adams is the true test of 'sophisticated' nerds everywhere. The Hitchhiker's Guide was originally a radio program in the late 1970s but eventually it grew into a trilogy of five books (this makes sense to anyone who's read Adams), a TV series, a second radio show, and a classic computer game. It was only a matter of time before they morphed it all into a movie.

I loved the book but I was reluctant to go see the movie. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to all the hype. Now that I've seen it I'm not exactly sure how best to review it. It was good - not great. I really wasn't expecting too much, and overall I was pleasantly surprised. I liked that in general it was true to Adams' writing style. A lot of the dialogue and narration were taken from the book word for word. Of course, most of it was edited down for the big-screen and some of the story was different, but that's to be expected. The acting was decent, and the special-effects and sets were spectacular.

In analyzing the story changes, it's important to note that Adams himself (who died in 2001) enjoyed changing elements of his story from iteration to iteration. The radio series was different than the books, which was different than the TV series, which was different than the subsequent radio series, etc. I imagine the movie screenplay was produced in much the same vein as he had originally written it: A bit more romance, a lot less narration, less story, more action. Perhaps these were all reasonable compromises, but ultimately it was all so abbreviated it left me wondering if it would be enjoyable to someone who was not familiar with the book. And it has to be said - the whole production was very 'British' in nature. For me this was definitely a plus, as it meant staying true to Adams' style, but if you don't like british humor - you won't like this movie.

I'd recommend this movie, but not to everyone. To put it bluntly - this movie is more than a bit nerd-centric. If you think nerd is a bad word, or if you're not really familiar with Hitchhiker's already you might want to give it a pass, or at least consider reading the book first. Likewise, if you're going to the movies with a group of friends, be sure you're all card carrying members of the Hitchhiker's cognoscenti or chances are someone won't have such a great time. But if you can read all this and still be interested then be sure to check it out. It's not perfect, but it is an enjoyable movie and a nostalgic reminder of everything we love about the late great Douglas Adams.


Blogger Aanen said...

I'm almost finished with the book. Adams sure had an interesting imagination. who knew that mice are really experimenting on us? ;)

5/11/2005 7:45 AM  
Blogger TwistedNoggin said...

I've been wanting to read that book since high-school, and never got around to it. Every time I remember it, I want to kick myself, then I make a mental note to buy the book.
Somewhere in the vaccuum of space, there is a pile of mental post-its and all my left socks... lost forever.
Anyway, I never read the book, though I have made a mental note to buy that book next. I thought the movie was quite cute. I would gladly watch it again. It's not in my top ten favorites or anything, but I did like it. The non-nerd who accompanied me was not thrilled with it. He does not care for sci-fi or for british humor, but nobody's perfect.

Nerds Es Fervens

5/11/2005 3:36 PM  
Blogger Dædalux said...

Good to know - I was curious what someone who hadn't read the book might have thought of the movie. And do get the book - it's definitely a worthy read.

5/18/2005 1:40 PM  

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