Today I saw the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” movie. It was always clear to me that it would be difficult to turn this story into a motion picture, something that Douglas Adams unsuccessfully attempted several times before his untimely death in 2001. I didn’t expect all books to be reflected in the movie, and I also didn’t expect all the pieces that did make it into the movie to be completely consistent with the books. Even Douglas Adams considerably changed the story when transforming it from one media to another (radio series, books, and TV series). I therefore tried to go into the movie with an open mind and reasonably low expectations. Unfortunately, I still managed to be disappointed.
The story mainly covered the first two books. However, while large parts of the books were (understandably) not part of the movie, a substantial part of the movie’s story was made up just for the movie and did not come from any of the previous incarnations of the story, which I found very odd, given the huge amount of suitable and arguably much more relevant story elements that were already available. This includes the rescue of Trillian from the Vogons, the much more emphasized (in true Hollywood style) love story between her and Arthur, etc. The vogons were done very well, but their role seemed exaggerated in an attempt to show off the nice work of the Jim Henson puppets. There were also many inconsistencies between the movie and the books (for example Deep Thought wasn’t actually on the planet Magratea), although I’m more willing to forgive these in the name of artistic license.
On the positive side, I liked the way the guide was presented. Most of the actors were good fits for their roles. Martin Freeman was a very good choice for Arthur Dent, and even though I initially had some concerns, Mos Def was a pretty good Ford Prefect. Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox was quite good as well, even though he always strikes me as a Mike Myers wannabe…
Overall, good enough for an entertaining evening, but definitely not the movie that I expected (and that I had been waiting for since I first read the books close to 20 years ago…)