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The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Director: Garth Jennings

Stars: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, et al.

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 6


The confusing history of the various formats of Douglas Adams’s most famous creation is almost as much a mine of comedy as the story itself. So whether this film is meant to be an adaptation of the mutually contradictory radio play, novel or BBC TV series is unclear.

Before his untimely death, Adams tinkered yet again with the story during the early gestation of this movie’s script, yet, in the end, it seems difficult to believe that the final cut would have received his unqualified approval.

It is not that this most British of comedies has American actors in key roles, but, beyond what was surely necessary, it seems to have been adapted to please the studio’s perception of the American market. Of course, few would realistically expect a verbatim big screen adaptation, but this fails to justify this film’s unnecessary deviations from the plot or the introduction of superfluous new characters – or, worst of all, the omission of some of the best lines included in every previous version. Yes, most of the best jokes are here, but some - amazingly - are not.

That aside, the performances are generally engaging, particularly from The Office’s Martin Freeman (in the lead role of Arthur Dent), Stephen Fry (as the voice of the Guide) and Bill Nighy (as planet designer Slartibartfast), who arrives just as events make their most blasphemous transgressions from their source(s).

Those approaching the story for the first time are likely to be far more forgiving, as there are still plenty of laughs and the effects and make-up are eye-catching. For fans, however, this version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy comes across as merely servicable, as opposed to special; compared to the TV series, the film’s budget may be enormously more, but its charm is, unfortunately, less by almost as much.

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