5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Was this trip really necessary?,
This review is from: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2 Disc Edition) [DVD]  (DVD)
The film of the books of the stage show of the TV series of the radio show of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of those spin-offs that isn't as horribly disappointing as you expect it to be without actually ever being much good at all. The changes to Douglas Adams' admittedly constantly evolving and mutating storyline are not so much the problem, although the absence of Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the B-Ark and, most importantly, the ultimate question to the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is keenly felt. Even the fact that the script often loses the punchlines to the jokes in its efforts to bring the plot down to a manageable length doesn't deliver the coup de grace. Rather it's the casting that's such a problem, with Martin Freeman a particularly inadequate Arthur Dent (yes, Dent is an inadequate character, but that's no reason to cast an inadequate actor who seems even more lost on the big screen than the small), Mos Def a mumbling and uncharismatic Ford Prefect (thankfully the DVD comes with subtitles) who seems oblivious to the notion of comic timing, Sam Rockwell gives another of his trying-too-hard-to-be-funny performances as Zephod Beeblebrox and Bill Nighy is comprehensively underwhelming as Slartibartfast. Even the seemingly ideal casting of Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android falls flat, but then, ironically for something that started its life on radio, none of the vocal delivery in the film is particularly good.
But it's not all bad news: the opening dolphin musical number, So Long and Thanks For All the Fish is fun, the visit to the Vogon's grimly bureaucratic homeworld has its moments, the falling whale has it's brief moment of sentient glory and the factory floor sequences on Magrathea are genuinely visually stunning. But there's still the feeling that for those in the know it's a trip that wasn't particularly necessary while the uninitiated will probably be left wondering what all the fuss is about as yet another joke falls almost as flat as a thermonuclear device that has suddenly found itself turned into a whale in midair. 42/100.
Aside from the UK exclusive 63-minute documentary, the extras on the two-disc edition are disappointing - a few poor deleted scenes and two very unfunny fake out-takes and unenlightening commentary, with only Marvin's Hangman game showing much real feel for the material.