Film of the book: ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (2005)

I felt that I should give this film another try. When I saw it well over a decade ago, I compared it unfavourably with the fabulous 1981 adaptation. Now I’ve watched it again, bearing in mind that the film wasn’t trying to be a re-make of the TV series and that Douglas Adams actually co-wrote the script but sadly he died before the film was made. I liked a couple of nods to the TV series – an updated version of the theme tune and a cameo from the old version of Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Martin Freeman is perfect in the role of confused, pyjama-clad, tea-seeking Englishman, Arthur Dent. The other actors are very good too, Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast, Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, Mos Def as Ford Prefect. I was wondering whether Zaphod’s second head had been left out of this adaptation, when suddenly it popped up from underneath his usual head! Oddly the second head was cut off and used as collateral in an extra strand of plot, that of stealing some sort of gun that makes victims talk about their true feelings. I enjoyed the effects of the probability drive (at one point, the travellers get turned into knitted figures and Arthur vomits rainbow-coloured thread), Ford Prefect’s various uses of the towel he carries, Zaphod’s fashion sense and the beginning of the film with the leaping dolphins.

To turn the somewhat meandering book into a feature-length story, more changes were made to the plot, including Trillian being captured by the Vogons and Arthur leading the expedition to get her out, which involves a lot of paperwork. There’s a more pronounced relationship between Trillian and Arthur, which in the book didn’t amount to much. I wasn’t entirely convinced by these changes, but that might just be because I’m so familiar with the book and the TV series.

Neither Marvin nor the Heart of Gold spaceship looked like you might expect, both being spherical. I suppose there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.

I feel somewhat kinder towards this adaptation now but I probably wouldn’t watch it again.

Film poster for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy showing the Earth with a man and a robot looking up at it.

Low-resolution film poster sourced from Wikipedia.

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