DON’T PANIC. Every fan of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy (actually five books) was overheard repeating the words, “Don’t Panic.” Even I wondered aloud if the the big screen could even remotely capture the essence of the written material.
Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. This could have easily been a train wreck . . . luckily Douglas Adams managed to write the screenplay and aid in the casting before his untimely death. This isn’t to say The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy isn’t without flaws.
Let’s start with the good. As stated before, the movie aims relatively true to the book. Most major scenes are covered (with a few new ones) and no money was spared in creating the special effects and scenery. The movie brought to life the world of Magrathea and livened up the Guide itself. It was fun to see how the Guide worked, and actually seeing how it presented its data within was cool to watch.
The overall grade of casting wasn’t bad either. Sam Rockwell (“Frost/Nixon”) played Zaphod Beeblebrox to a tee. Zaphod is definitely a party-now-worry-about-consequences later kind of “guy.” My only objection was he acted too much like everyones favorite goon, George W. Bush. I hadn’t imagined Mos Def (“The Woodsman”) playing Ford Prefect or Martin Freeman (“Hot Fuzz”) portraying Arthur Dent. I’d say both did an adequate job doing what they were asked to.
Downfalls of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you ask? Well, simply put, I’m not entirely sure the irony and humor were completely captured. British humor is a hard beast to make work. It requires a lot of work to pull off for the smallest of jokes. Obviously, many subplots and interactions were pared down or completely removed. The whole earth as a computer concept should have been covered with more zeal (as it is a major concept of the movie). I’m also confused by the addition Humma Kavula, played by John Malkovich (“Burn After Reading”). Why was this added? Surely the time allotted to this could have been better spent elsewhere.
All said, I’m glad I watched the movie, although, it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped. I found myself thinking to much. Why was this added? Why was this removed? I would insert parts of the book into the movie to fill voids. Therefore, it may be a good thing to have actually NOT read the book before seeing the movie (although I highly recommend reading the books, afterwards). To put it simply, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is Mostly Harmless. (Inside joke to fans of the novel).