Arthur Dent, an English everyman, wakes up to discover his home is about to be demolished by bumbling bureaucrats. Not just his house, which would be bad enough, but the entire planet Earth.
Luckily, his best friend, Ford Prefect, is from another planet. They manage to hitch a lift, and improbably join up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy, on his quest to locate the mythical world of Magrathea.
The film's pacing is very fast, and as a result it unfortunately skips lots of jokes. This sacrifice of comedy elements allowed them to squeeze in a side-plot involving an evil Space-Pope [John Malkovich - Johnny English ]. Very topical, since an ex-HitlerJugend has been hired as the new ruler of Vatican City. But not only is this plot superfluous, it is also left open-ended - to fill out a potential sequel, no doubt.
The Hitch-Hikers series has a long history, dating back to the 1970s. It was originally a BBC Radio series, then a novel, then a TV series. This film is obviously an Americanised version of a British idea -- it's a lot more upbeat than the original. The director, apparently English, has previously directed a couple of music videos. But in spite of his relative inexperience, he acquits himself quite well.
Despite the vast expense on special effects, the core of the film is still the main characters themselves. Ford Prefect (Mos Def - Italian Job 2003) acquits himself well. Trillian, AKA Tricia McMillan ( Zooey Deschanel - Elf ) is more like Adams' brainy nerd-girl than the TV show's blonde bimbo (Sandra Dickinson) ever could have been. Marvin the Paranoid Android (Warwick Davis is in the suit, while his Harry Potter co-star Alan Rickman provides the voice) is reasonable. But Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell - Green Mile, Charlie's Angels, Galaxy Quest ) is awesome! Yes, if all US adaptions of UK shows could bring actors of his calibre, they would be a lot more popular.
The film is filled with celebrity cameos. Deep Thought is voiced by Helen Mirren, and even the news anchorwoman is Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting). For BBC fans, the League of Gentlemen make an appearance too.
There are other nice touches, including cameos by two of the original cast - I won't spoil it for you, you can spot them yourself. Unfortunately Simon Jones, the original voice of the book, has passed away. Stephen Fry (Wilde, Blackadder) is a perfectly adequate replacement.
Beyond great SPFX and a stellar cast, pun intended, the film doesn't really have much to offer. It's just not as funny as expected. That said, it's true to Adams' original story and nowhere near as bad as you might have been expecting.
Also, people unfamiliar with the previous versions of the story seem quite impressed with this one. Just like the way the TV show was loved by newbies, but everyone else said the books were better.
The final verdict? Unfortunately, for those who've read the book, it's a bit hit and miss. Like the Vogons. But if you're a newbie to The Guide, give it a try -- you won't regret it!
The other great irony was that this film is based on the comics of Frank Miller . They weren't his greatest work - some people would say that was Elektra: Assassin. However, when Elektra was recently adapted into a film they chose to ignore Miller's comic . The result? Two disappointing films instead of one great one!
This movie is a classic case of style over substance. It replicates the monotone of the original comics, providing a visual treat by means of amazing use of chromakey technology. The opposite of the Dick Tracy film that came out about 15 years ago.
The problem is, this film sticks slavishly to the slender plot of the original work. So closely, in fact, that the comics more or less storyboarded the film and Rodriguez was thrown out of the Directors' Guild of America for co-crediting Miller as Director.
The plots are simple. There are 3 stories, interlinked [like in Pulp Fiction], but they are all basically the same. The protagonists [the word hero does not apply] are sadistic mass-murderers played by Bruce Willis [ Fifth Element ], Clive Owen [ King Arthur ] and Mickey Rourke Angel Heart ]. They have to protect the tart-with-a-heart of-gold [ Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Jaime Pressley ] from a group of murderous gangsters led by Benicio Del Toro [ Licence to Kill ], Powers Booth [ Frailty ], Michael Clarke Duncan [ Green Mile ], Nick Stahl [ Terminator 3 ], Elijah Woods [ Lord of the Rings ] and Rutger Hauer [ Blade Runner ].
And hilarity ensues. Or rather, just tons of the most OTT murders that Miller could devise.