Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I slipped out early to catch the matinee of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As the lights fell I wondered, as I do with every movie based on a book, which will be better: book or movie? Sometimes both can differ in many ways, but still be good. For example, The Hunt For Red October or Jurassic Park.

It had been many years since I read The Hitchhiker's Guide and its two sequels (later two more sequels were published). Douglas Adams himself wrote most of the screenplay before his death, so any purists upset about changes can't complain too much. Only a few things were added to the movie, according to Wired magazine: John Malkovich's character Humma Kavula, and the Point-of-View Gun, which causes the target to see things from the shooter's perspective.

The story follows Arthur Dent, rescued from earth just before it is destroyed, and his further travels in space. Along the way there are some hilarious plot twists and several asides (the answer to the ultimate question: the meaning of life, the universe, and everything; mice as higher-dimensional superbeings; earth as a large computer simulation designed to figure out the ultimate question; and so forth). In the movie were a few scenes that drew laughs, and while the books are very funny with a dry British humor, I think it is difficult to translate that. Do you think Monty Python movies are funny? A Fish Called Wanda? If so, you will do well with this one.

Overall I did like the movie, but think the books are much better. I'm not sure this movie will do very well, outside of the core fans who are familiar with the books. But hey, it is opening against XXX: State of the Union.

I didn't realize that Hitchhiker's Guide was originally a BBC radio show, which was then turned into a novel. I should cast aside my earlier search for audio books and try to get my hands on the radio show instead!

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