Er, it’s quite good actually. Go see it.
All the actually funny lines are Douglas Adams’, but the filmmakers make rather a decent fist of the whole thing, and avoid screwing it up completely.
Definitely better than I was expecting.
There has been too much newsprint spilt over this film already, so here are the differences from what 3 million people have already said 8 trillion times:
Yeeeaaaah, alright. Not as good as the original Slartibardfast, but Nighy is the one everybody has praised to the heavens, and I’m not sure why.
The best performances are the ones that are similar to the original: Eddie, the ship-board computer, Gag Halfrunt (“Vell, Zaphod’s jist zis guy you know?”), the whale.
Perhaps that’s a little harsh: Stephen Fry is a fantastic Voice of The Book. Alan Rickman would have been a pretty good Marvin The Paranoid Android, given less-mangled material—and a more convincing Marvin-suit. Oh, and the Vogons were great. I liked the Vogons.
Arthur is suddenly hugely less witty, more bumbling, irretrievably love-struck with Trillian (which, fortunately by the end of the film she reciprocates). Love story. Hmm.
Sam Rockwell nails the character of Zaphod Beeblebrox, but the script leaves his character rather dumbed down, so he doesn’t have much to work with. So he falls about a lot instead.
See, the main problem with the performances was that they were rather ill-defined. Ford mumbled too much, and so did the directing. There were a few nice Vogon gags, but they got lost in the mumbling. Some of the funniest bits are the Guide exposition, which is just Stephen Fry narrating and some brilliant animation; it’s clean and beatifully executed.
Not that there isn’t breathing space in this film, and there are some beatiful vistas to admire while you take a breath, but there’s a lot of fuss and business which clutters the film up. Pratfalls and falling over which doesn’t really advance the story. And too much of Adams famously witty script has been shoved out of the way to make room for pratfalls.
I don’t have anything against physical comedy per se; the trouble is that the physical larking about got in the way of the superlatively witty dialogue—and the larking about wasn’t all that witty.
…it is still “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy”. It feels authentic. It has the right sense of the absurd. The opening bit with the dolphins is wonderful, the Guide itself is spot-on, the story is as disconnected and wierd as Douglas Adams’ original and it made me smile.
It could have been fantastic, but ‘pretty good*’ in my book is better than ‘goddamnit Lucas, you bastard, you screwed up Star Wars’.
*I’m not going to say “mostly harmless” here and you can’t make me.