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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - DVD Review


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</script></div>{/googleAds}In one of the riskiest filmmaking ventures in quite some time, touchstone pictures brings Douglas Adams' 1979 sci-fi bestseller, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to the big screen. I say risky because it's a rare occurrence that a book of such cultish fame and long awaited anticipation can both please deep-rooted fans and captivate curious greenhorns. But looking at the weekend's competitive fare across the Cineplex, it would be a failure of disastrous proportions for Hitchhiker's Guide to not come out on top of the weekend box office.

I must admit that I never read Adams' novel, so my commentary will be devoid of comparison, however, after seeing the movie, I have to ask the question what's so great about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy legacy? I know you're going to tell me that I need to just read the book, but I also know that a movie must be able to stand on its own merit with regards to elements of fine filmmaking. Things like plot continuity, captivating characters, and focused narration must not be overlooked. While watching, I felt a bit left out of the party as if many of the bits and gags were tiny leftover book fragments that probably seemed interesting enough to include in the movie, but that the filmmakers weren't able to creatively and successfully incorporate into the movie's storyline.

To be fair, the film isn't a total failure as I did find myself laughing out loud at some of its dialogue. Clearly Adams had (he died of a sudden heart attack in May 2001) an active imagination and a brilliantly sarcastic eloquence with the written word that sometimes translate well to the big screen. Take the following passage for example. "Vogon poetry is, without a doubt, the third worst poetry in the known galaxy. The second worst poetry is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent, entitled Ode to a Small Piece of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning, four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council only survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. The very worst poetry in the galaxy was written by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England and was thankfully destroyed with the Earth."

Typical guy Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), whose house is about to be demolished to make way for a highway bypass, is whisked aboard an alien spaceship just moments before the Earth is disintegrated. Clad only in PJs and bathrobe, and accompanied by his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), this starts Arthur on a whirlwind tour of the galaxy in search of the meaning of the Universe. Along the way Arthur and Ford hook up with the girl of Arthur's admiration, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) who changed her name so that it would sound more "spacey", and Zaphod Beeblbrox (Sam Rockwell) the two-headed - two-faced rather - President of the Galaxy. Ultimately, Arthur discovers many things about the Universe, his friends and even himself. Including the fact that a towel is the most useful thing a person can carry. It's little random bits of zaniness like this that populate Adams' story throughout, giving the film a touch of wry British humor as well as many moments of "why was that in there?"

The movie is a both a scathing satire on bureaucratic lunacy and a sarcastic jab at the entire science-fiction genre. It's a playfully frolicsome journey through the galaxy that pours on the jokes without ever taking itself too seriously. Kind of like Monty Python's Flying Circus meets Spaceballs. I can't say I liked the film, but at the same time it's hard to hate its uniquely imaginative whimsy. The action is a bit too episodic in nature and it needs a bit more cohesion to give it official clearance for hyperspace.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 1.85:1; Full Screen 1.33:1

Subtitles: French; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stero.

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; making-of featurette.

* Audio Commentaries - Two feature length audio commentaries. 1. With producter Nick Goldsmith director Garth Jennings, and actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy. 2. With Producer Robbie Stamp and a colleague of Douglas Adams, Sean Solle.
* Featurette:
o Making-of featurette
o Sing-along music video for "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish."
* Trailers: for other Toushstone releases.
* Deleted Scenes:
o Deleted Scenes
o Really Deleted Scenes

Number of discs: - Keepcase packaging.

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