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April 10, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide review

I don't have high hopes for the new Hitchhiker's Guide movie--my pessimism is based on Planet Magrathea's list of Things that Aren't in the Movie. [Edit: The list, sadly, includes Majikthise and Vroomfondel.]

Their review didn't inspire confidence either.


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That review was idiotic. Waaah! They didn't film the book exactly as it was written. The person seems ignorant of the fact that the late Adams himself guided a lot of the movie's changes.

I didn't read the long review, but I can say the short one isn't just pissing and moaning about stuff that was cut. They're saying that what is left isn't funny, and that lots of stuff that wan included was altered in ways that make it weaker. And they say the new version is incoherent and incomprehensible.

I'm sorry if this turns out to be the case. I had some hopes for the film after seeing the trailer that was set up as a Guide entry about movie trailers.

I agree, it does kind of read like a simpering fan-boy's predetermined gripes. Some of the stuff that's left out will be missed, but I'll save my judgement for the actual viewing.

Having read the long review, it doesn't sound like fan-boy bitching. It sounds like a goddamn hatchet job.

I'm just biased because they cut Majikthise and Vroomfondel.

I went back to read the long review, spoilers be damned, and it looks like he's exceeded his bandwidth limit. I didn't know you had so many readers, Lindsay! Should "Majikthised" be added to the lexicon alongside "Slashdotted" and "Farked"?

I am going to reserve judgement till I see it. The Guide has been A comic book, a video game, a radio show, a mini-series oh and it was a novel. Not one of those incarnations was like the other I would be dissapointed if the movie didn't follow suite. That said I too shall miss the venerable philosophers as philosophy needs it's rockstars too.

A video game? I remember a text-based game in the pick-up-the-birdcage-in-case-you-find-a-canary Infocomm style, but not a video game.

Philosophy has its rockstars.

I've never been a big Adams or Hitchiker fan. The radio show was mildly amusing, and everything else was retread and rehash.

I'm not getting my hopes up. Sam Rockwell as Zaphrod? He should be Ford. Mos Def should be playing Zaphrod. (I'm just using the actors they have on hand. Neither is my ideal choice for any role.) But Alan Rickman is the perfect voice for Marvin and Stephen Frye for the Book.

Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast? Hmmm. Now there's a Zaphrod! In fact, he already played Zaphrod in Love, Actually.

Good news for fans of the books is that the BBC is continuing with its radio productions of the the last three books in May.

It stars most of the original radio/TV cast.

You can listen online.

Too bad about Majikthise.

I loved the BBC radio play, and I recall that Star Wars had a pretty good radio adaptation right around the same time. Marvin outwitting a much more powerful robot, and not deriving any pleasure from its demise, was a particularly memorable highlight ("God, I'm so-o-o depressed...")

The radio show was mildly amusing, and everything else was retread and rehash.

Well, some of us benighted souls never heard the original radio show, and so noticed no retread or rehash when we read the books. In such context, the books appeared wondrous to our innocent eyes. When we...Okay, forget the royal plural...When I finally saw the television series, it was amusing to watch from the context of having read the books. Had I relied on the television series initially, my fondness would not have been so enduring.

I'm always nervous about translation to the BIG screen, and this is no exception. And I demand that they have Vroomfondel!

Not to knock Lindsay's traffic, but it appears they were actually Slashdotted:

How come this site doesn't have the link to


(the entire BBC hitchiker show on KCRW archive)

Look what I found looking for my hitchhiker's towel=


"That review was idiotic. Waaah! They didn't film the book exactly as it was written. The person seems ignorant of the fact that the late Adams himself guided a lot of the movie's changes." - Hank Scorpio

Beat me to it. I would like to ad that the book, as written, is completely unfilmable. The film would end up being 20 to 30 hours long and would have scenes as long as 30 minutes with nothing but two characters talking. Sure, the dialogue would be witty, but no viewer would be willing to sit through all of it.

Of course the show's original incarnation was as a radio show NOT a book. As a schoolboy I even recorded it on its first broadcast in 1978 and listened to it until I could recite it by rote, though my cassettes are now so old and degraded as to be almost unlistenable.

The radio show was wonderfully funny, but every incarnation since then -- the records, TV show and especially the books -- has been like an inferior Xerox copy of the original. Adams was too lazy a writer to improve on the radio scripts and the novelizations were, face it, utter shyte. I fear what the movie will turn out to be.

It has to be said that the 'new' Hitch-Hikers radio shows are a pile of poo. Really appalling. Recycled third-grade Adams material. They are embarrassing.

After seeing the much anticipated "Dune" in the 80's become a failure, (and a 2 hour commercial for "Lucas THX sound",) I expect little. Sci Fi channel's 6 hour miniseries, "Dune", (on tuesday night in its entirety,) was much more true to the book, and had a flow that did not leave out important details! Kudos to Sci Fi Channel! One in a row!

We can only hope Sci Fi remakes the HG one day, (and lot twenty years down the road,) A 2 hour movie cannot begin to touch the humor built into the book. I like the idea of visuals, though.

Kinda like I Robot. A collection of short stories, (the dectective, Dell somethingorother has a robot partner... Susan designed the three laws... The old guy was just an engineer... No robots hurt people...) Hmmmmm...

As a bonus, the 1950's writing now draws a great picture for re-reading a few of the robot series from Asimov. As for HG, let us hope they at least have good visuals. As for the story, and the humor, I cannot expect it to compare to the many times I lost my page laughing hysterically!!!

It has to be pointed out that douglas adams did the first two books in the HHG for the money, and the only reason the first two books were two books was because the publisher was so frustrated waiting for Adams to finish writing the damn thing they told him to just give them what he had written so far and he could do the rest at a later date. This is taken from the introduction to a huge fat book with the first four in the trilogy bound under a single cover.

books 3 and 4 seemed much better written imho, book 5 just sucks.

Book three (Life, the Universe, and Everything) was based on an old, unused Doctor Who script written by Douglas Adams. It suffered a little from throwing the incompetent Hitchhiker's characters into a more challenging Whoian adventure, but is still one of my favorites.

Book four (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish) really went in a totally different direction, and I agree with R. Mildred that it is fantastically written. Not having a "previous" incarnation to tie it to must have helped free Douglas up amazingly.

And yes, book five (Mostly Harmless) is pretty horrible. The writing itself is not terrible, but you can just see Douglas typing away and saying, "Okay, you bastards, you want another one? Fine, here it is, and let's just make it undeniably the last one I have to write!" It doesn't seem like he was at all happy to have to write it...more like his agent or editor demanded it of him. Which is too bad.

Tom refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the fifth book.

A countervailing review of a screening:

Note that the reviewer (Moriarty) is a fan of the HGTTG series, and he "loved" it. To quote, " Douglas Adams would be very proud."

Also, here's a good FAQ about the movie, especially in relation to the series as a whole:

To quote one FAQ and answer:

Will this movie be faithful to the book(s)?

No. It is its own entity, just as Douglas Adams intended it to be when he wrote the screenplay. The books are not the original incarnation of Hitchhikers. They are adaptations of radio plays. Those plays were subsequently adapted into LP albums, stage productions, a TV series, and a videogame. In none of these forms was there any attempt to slavishly adhere to the letter of any one version. New ideas were written in, old ideas were written out, plots expanded and characters altered. Hitchhikers, by its very nature, is fluid, so expect the story of the film to differ markedly from the books as you remember them.
Emphasis added to point out that Adams wrote the screenplay himself (though there have been tweaks). For instance, the religious leader played by Malkovich is apparently in no other incarnations of the series, but was put in the screenplay by Adams himself.

Admittedly, part of the impetus for this FAQ appears to be trying to calm the jitters of hardcore HGTTG fans who feel that the movie will be a botch-job. But that's something I can get behind -- at least until I see it myself.


You don't have to wait, just watch the trailer again and this time trust your most basic instincts. What could be the warning signals?
1) Marvin looks like a Ping-Pong Ball
2) Zaphod shows only one head.
3) Zaphod lost head is jammed up his throat.
4) Zaphod is mostly wearing a white lemon-squeezer-helmet.
5) Everyone in this movie is wearing pijamas.
6) Deep Thought looks like Hello Kitty.
7) Deep Thought is surrounded by retarded new age hippies.
8) Ford Prefect is now a gimmick to hook the african-americans.
From the review:
1) Arthur Dent advertsing NOKIA cellphones.
2) Lemons are actually squeezed on Zaphods helmet.
3) The lines you used to quote from the book are gone.
4) etc
Anyone who goes to see the movie despite all this, is just a "monkey who doesn't know any better."-Douglas Adams

The t.v. series was in fact bad, that's what made it fun. Douglas Adams sense of humor wrapped itself around the brainstem at once absurb, brilliant, and scandalously silly. I belive volume five to be an expresion of his distaste for Americans as we tend to be rather voracious and demanding. Dirk Gently was a natural response to the "great" detective pulps Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock.

I would be horribly dissapointed if they sacrificed sillieness for continuity, a srong plot or dazzling visual effects.

Another countervailing review:

I've seen it. It's not rubbish.

By the way, would people's opinions about any given change be altered if it turned out Douglas Adams had come up with it? I guess it shouldn't, but in my case it probably would at least a little bit...

Ok, I'll go see it. I will not look at the books as a point of reference. I will not go in with a preconceived notion that the movie has to follow the book. I will simply like or dislike the movie.

I will remember that they '...are sorry for the inconvienance,' and continue on with my miserable and insignificant life, no matter what my opinion of the movie is.

It is just a movie, after all.

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