I have to admit that I went in with some heavy preconceptions about this movie. The first review we saw was bad, the comments from the fans were variable to be very fair, and the chances of such an epic and very British story making it to a single movie without being altered heavily, and possibly ruined, were low. So, the question is, is it any good?
Well, I’m not sure. I was surprised how similar much of it is to the TV series, I say that as I never read the book nor did I hear the radio series. Yet does that make any difference? I’ll come back to that point in a moment. I did laugh, but there were more giggles than anything and many funny moments went quietly past with the audience. There were also quite a few moments which were just lost, someone mentioned the towel, we just go through the movie without even a glimpse of an understanding. Yet that isn’t a bad thing either, although the audience new to the series won’t know what it means, it just adds to the quirkiness and fans will know what it means straight away.
So did I like it? I’m still not sure. Sam Rockwell is superb as Zaphod, and he definitely got the warmest reception from the audience and the biggest laughs. Alan Rickman did a superb job as Marvin, and Bill Nighy was a scene stealer from the moment he revealed himself. Martin Freeman does a great job as Dent as does Mos Def as Prefect. Yet for all this there was something that just didn’t click for me, and something I find it hard to put my finger on. It didn’t have the same impact as the original series and it just tended to wash over me.
It comes back to the question of whether or not they should have changed the original material, before I saw the movie I would have said no, you can’t change the material, stick with the original. Now I’ve watched it I’m thinking it’s a good idea, and just give me a minute here, hear me out.
The original series was ground breaking, it really did show audiences something totally different and unique, a simple message but in a wild, amazing story. By repeating the original they are trying to break the same ground again, yet it’s already broken. The audience has been amazed, and the new audience is dazzled by special effects and huge explosions. It’s not a bad thing now, the movie is a great homage to the story, but it doesn’t affect the audience in the same way, and that’s the key. Never mind the history, the previous story, the author, it doesn’t affect the audience that much. The thing is, if they’d changed the story perhaps they could’ve found new ground to break and give us that feeling again.
That done, I did like the movie, but it wasn’t great. For me there should have been more with the guide itself, much more of the voyage with the group, and more of Nighy. However, it’s not amazing, it doesn’t match up to the original TV series and perhaps this is the biggest difficulty, the baggage this title carries in the form of the expectations and preconceptions that are brought to the audience. Perhaps it should have looked at new ground.