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HHGG reviews and stuff

(this was originally posted as a response to aramintamd's link to the PlanetMagrathea review of an early-post-production screening of the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. Short synopsis? Big pan. Really big pan. Such a pan not even Lodge Manufacturing could never produce the like. Big contrast to a review at the BBC's Douglas Adams site).

I'd take this review with a grain of salt. After all, there's a whole page of "what's not in the movie."

I'll pull a few simple quibbles.

There's the extensive complaint about Stephen Fry sounding like Stephen Fry. That's actually a reason to cast him. In casting Peter Jones as the voice of The Book in the radio play and the BBC miniseries, it was because they wanted someone with, as Adams said, "a Peter-Jonesy voice" and it happened that Jones himself was available. Peter Jones was an identifiable and ubiquitous voice in his day just as Stephen Fry has become now.

The two-headed Zaphod worked disastrously in the BBC miniseries. Everybody involved in the production hated the results. Even with 20 years of technical improvements, I don't think that Adams would have ever allowed that character design on film again.

And, of course, Arthur Dent was a prat.

All that said, the new HHGG movie may still blow goats, but I think the complaints the reviewer is making are a bit colored by his ideal HHGG movie. The Avengers was painfully bad, but the comparisons people were making to the brilliance of the show didn't wash. It wasn't the "inane dialog that couldn't compare with the original" that sunk The Avengers movie (and I watch The Avengers regularly, the acting and dialog in the original are no better than in the movie) but rather the editing hatchet-job that left major plot points on the cutting-room floor ("How now, brown cow").


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 11th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)
You miss his point. As do most people who diss this review. I'm not saying it's a complete and proper review of the movie. But it offers a perspective of the movie as a Douglas Adams creation, which is, of course, how it's being marketed.

The point he's making is that Douglas Adams isn't funny because of his plots. His writing is entertaining and amusing because the individual scenes are so carefully constructed; that the dialog is wonderfully layered and intricate and well-timed. One of the reviewer's main points is that the Hollywood process has made a mash of this, eviscerating the witty wordplay that is core to Adams' style and inserting cheap visual gags in their place.

The laundry list of items not in the movie is another thing. It's intended not to be a whinage list of things that should necessarily have been in. It's rather a list of things that are hallmarks of the Adams style. To have them ignored or mutilated in the film version does Adams a great disservice.

I think the most telling point is that the original radio series was a two hour effort and worked classically well. The stage play was also a two hour effort and apparently (though I've not seen it) managed to capture the Adams flare and wit. Thus it's fairly reasonable to expect that a two hour movie version should also be able to capture enough of it to be an enjoyable read. This critique (not really a review per se) argues strongly that the movie fails abysmally at this.


Apr. 12th, 2005 08:47 am (UTC)
I haven't read that review, but what worries me is that all the trailers so far seem to be focussing on the big, splashy effects - like the flyby of the spacestation (wtf? what space station?) or the Earth exploding - rather than on the funny dialog bits, which are really what drives any Douglas Adams story.
Apr. 12th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
I know better than to trust trailers, but the last trailer on the web was a guide entry on the subject of movie trailers that beautifully encapsulated the whole HHGG aesthetic.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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