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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Bill Nighy
Martin Freeman
Warwick Davis
Zooey Deschanel
Mos Def
Sam Rockwell
John Malkovich.
Directors
Garth Jennings.
Screenwriters
Karey Kirkpatrick
Douglas Adams.
Running Time
110 minutes

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Garth Jennings does Douglas Adams proud.


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Plot
Arthur Dent's (Freeman) home is about to be destroyed to make way for a bypass. Not just his house, mind, but his planet, too. Our planet. You know. Earth. Luckily, his best friend, Ford (Def), reveals himself to be an alien contributor to bestselling intergalactic book - A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and whisks Arthur off on a space-based adventure.


Review
DON'T PANIC, fervent Douglas Adamites. This movie adaptation of the TV adaptation of the novelisation of the radio series is about as faithful as you can get. Yes, it's been tweaked and twizzled, with a romance inserted here, a new character plopped down there, but everything you love about The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy remains intact - not to mention reinvigorated by its big-screen reincarnation.

Over the years, the cinematic Hitchhiker's has almost been an Ivan Reitman movie, a Jay Roach movie and a Spike Jonze gig, but debut director Garth Jennings, one half of the duo Hammer & Tongs, proves to be a savvy choice. Like many Hollywood tyros, this born-and-bred Brit is a former commercials/musi-vid megaphoner, but with his CV bolding up the likes of Blur's Coffee And TV (you know, that oft-copied one with little milk-carton man) and those Johnny Vegas/Monkey ads, it's clear he's going to be more Jonze than McG, with a sense of humour to match the source material.

While Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Luc Besson's The Fifth Element are obvious influences, Jennings consciously avoids turning Adams' idiosyncratic, philosophically tongue-in-cheek cosmos into a slick, CG-caressed megaverse, instead maintaining that view of what's Out There as being pretty much the same as what's Down Here. Only bigger. And infinitely more daft, packed with the kind of alien races that invented underarm deodorant before the wheel, or whose poetry is so bad they use it as a form of torture. Jennings even subverts that sci-fi visual staple, the epic reveal. His Earth-surface-to-outer-orbit pull-back, which unveils the immensity of the planet-trashing Vogon fleet, isn't some portentious, graceful reverse-glide - it's a winking series of jump-cuts. When George Lucas sees that, he'll choke on his pan-galactic gargleblaster.

It's happy, it's scrappy, it embraces the aesthetic of lo-fi Brit TV sci-fi (including, yes, the BBC's Hitchhiker's telly series, referenced here in several cameos and tributes) while rarely looking like it's being unintentionally cut-rate. In one scene, we see the main cast transformed into Clangers-style knitted dolls. In another, a queue of bureaucratically trammelled extra-terrestrials are shamelessly presented like Doctor Who rejects. Meanwhile, the Guide itself (silkily voiced by Stephen Fry) hasn't been transmogrified into some shimmering, holo-device; it's still a book-sized slab which illustrates its advice using kitschy 2-D animations. Occasionally, when this cheap, cheerful feel infects the editing, it does veer into messiness, and one or two gags become lost in the mix. But what the hell - that's what repeat viewings are for.

There's no faulting the cast. Martin Freeman (aka Tim from The Office) is an inspired choice for the bleary Arthur, as perpetually rumpled as his character's never-divested dressing gown, a perfectly mundane everyman struggling to comprehend both the immensity and the stupidity of the universe beyond. He's also capable of dealing with the (added) romantic element with Trillian (a luminous Zooey Deschanel) without allowing a flicker of schmaltz into the film. Mos Def retains all of Ford Prefect's aloof nerdiness while affirming his own impeccable comic timing, Alan Rickman's nasal grumbles are spot-on for maniacally depressed robot Marvin, and if Sam Rockwell's hyperactive, self-kidnapping galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox is annoying, that's because Zaphod's an inherently irritating creation anyway.

As we said, those hardcore Hitchhikers out there have little to worry about. Although they should be warned that the movie's faithfulness means all its best jokes will be very familiar. For them, it's more a case of basking comfortably in the nostalgia than laughing out loud. But if you're new to all this, and have no idea about the significance of towels, or what a whale and a bowl of petunias have in common, then, boy, are you in for a treat...


Verdict
Mostly harmless. A very British, very funny sci-fi misadventure that's guaranteed to win converts. Want to go to The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe now, please.


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Empire Star Rating

Good!!

All these people slagging this film off need to wake up!!! Come on lets see you try and make this into a film!! I better you'd do no better!! I hate the way people treat the TV series as some sort of Holy Grail yeah it was good but come on just cos this is different does not make it any less a decent adaptation!!! I personally found it very entertaining (no I wasn't new to this story) and thought the performances all round were excellent!!! I cannot understand why people say that Mos De... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Andybee76 at 13:09, 17 July 2009 | Report This Post


Good!!

All these people slagging this film off need to wake up!!! Come on lets see you try and make this into a film!! I better you'd do no better!! I hate the way people treat the TV series as some sort of Holy Grail yeah it was good but come on just cos this is different does not make it any less a decent adaptation!!! I personally found it very entertaining (no I wasn't new to this story) and thought the performances all round were excellent!!! I cannot understand why people say that Mos De... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Andybee76 at 13:09, 17 July 2009 | Report This Post


Shit

It's shit, it's shit, it's shit. There, nuff said. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clarencewurley at 10:42, 19 December 2008 | Report This Post


Inevitably, not brilliant

The film tries too hard to be eccentrically funny. It's OK - gets a bit lame towards the end though - and the acting's good. Mos Def makes for a, shall we say interesting Ford Prefect. Marvin is rounded with a ridiculously big head, not a patch on the one in the TV series... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HeavenChild at 21:21, 22 November 2008 | Report This Post


Amazing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 04:16, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


I really like this

This is the second time i've seen this and it get's much better on repeated viewings. Wonderful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mafyou at 20:39, 25 August 2007 | Report This Post


Just not funny enough...

I will start by saying, anyone under ten or eleven is liable to love this film, and that is fine. But anyone older than that will be bored before the first hour is finished. Then you have another 50 minutes to endure. This is a 70 minute film stretched to just under two hours. Martin Freeman and Mos Def both are wooden, which is a shame, because Freeman is excellent in the popular TV series "The Office". But you can say no such thing about Mos Def, who has never been and never will be ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Tookeyboi at 15:02, 06 June 2007 | Report This Post


This film is terrible. Thats all that needs to be said to be honest, but I will go on. Dent is played by Tim out of the Office, oops I mean Martin Freeman, but you wouldn't know the difference - he plays the exact same character. He's hardly likeable, and for the hero of the flick is decidely poor (the film has already failed as soon as the audience realise they don't care what happens to him). From the start of the film your bounded between different planets and spaceships at breakneck speed... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukedge87 at 10:02, 21 January 2007 | Report This Post


This film is terrible. Thats all that needs to be said to be honest, but I will go on. Dent is played by Tim out of the Office, oops I mean Martin Freeman, but you wouldn't know the difference - he plays the exact same character. He's hardly likeable, and for the hero of the flick is decidely poor (the film has already failed as soon as the audience realise they don't care what happens to him). From the start of the film your bounded between different planets and spaceships at breakneck speed... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukedge87 at 10:02, 21 January 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Underpants!

A superb and very funny movie with an awesome cast and a surreal nutiness that lasts for ages...   Not as good as the book, but then what is? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 09:56, 08 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Underpants!

Although it was never going to be nearly as cool as the TV show, the film is still quite entertaining. It's worth watching just for the greatness of Sam Rockwell's Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Alan Rickman's superb Marvin. ... More

Posted by AgentGoth at 08:38, 08 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Underpants!

I thought this film was great! Perfectly cast and wonderful to look at! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ~Angel~ at 18:29, 05 June 2006 | Report This Post


Underpants!

I was warned repeatedly by at least half a dozen people not to waste money on this film.  I did not heed them.  I refused to believe that something with such good source material could possibly fail.  I was wrong. absolute underpants. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 20:11, 04 June 2006 | Report This Post


The Hitchhiker's Guide...

I haven't heard the radio series, I haven't read the books, I haven't seen the TV show, and I suck really badly at the computer game (I had to cheat to get into the Vogon washroom). But, from being an internet monkey I know a fair deal about what to expect, though at the same time I have absolutely no clue whatsoever. This film is one that is quite unlike anything I've seen in the blockbuster season, which is both a good thing and a bad. Why, do you ask, is it both? Well, I shall answer that 'ul... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kingoftheducks at 02:52, 19 April 2006 | Report This Post


Hitchhikers average guide

Not brilliant yet not terrible. DON'T PANIC though. It is woth the DVD!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by premierbaron at 10:15, 11 April 2006 | Report This Post


It's a really good film because of a fantastic book. Unfortunately, I think it was a difficult one to adapt to film because it needs a lot of explanation but they obviously tried really hard to make this good and I'll enjoy seeing the future work of Garth Jennings. I did think, though, why was Trillian played by an American, she's meant to be from England, however Mos Def as Ford worked a treat. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cluesy at 19:30, 06 February 2006 | Report This Post


Go along with the ride

Hitchhiker's goes Hollywood turns out as you might expect: better effects, less of the character. I can't read Douglas Adams rambling prose but I remember the BBC series with nostalgic affection. There is much self awareness of the fact this is 'British humour' as to render it embarrassing and unfunny. The inclusion of John Malkovich's character is bizarre and superfluous - just another stop-off. However, the Magrathea/ new eath sequences are nicely done and show what a decent effects budget ca... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gus120970 at 16:16, 26 January 2006 | Report This Post


Quirky and entertaining adventure in space

The book-series has been a success and cult-classic for years now, so the adaptation really sat off something that had to succeed, or the fans would go mental. With Martin Freeman, Mos Def and Sam Rockwell in leading roles the movie goes quickly on a quirky trip that entertains a thousand times more than I had expected! "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a fantasticly disturbed story about a guy named Arthur (Freeman), that before he knows it has to escape Earth because it's abo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Eastern Cowboy at 15:36, 09 January 2006 | Report This Post


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