ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  garth jennings

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  science fiction

LENGTH  -  103 minutes

RELEASED  -  29 april 2005

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  hitchhikers

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $80,000,000
the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy - a shot from the film


buy the soundtrack from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy at

buy the soundtrack from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy at

After the earth is blown up, the most ordinary man in the world sets out on an adventure of interstellar hitchhiking with an alien friend.

this will be ninth version of the "Hitchhiker's Guide". It previously appeared as a radio series, a record album, a novel, a television series, a computer game, a stage show, a comic book and a towel.


picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

picture from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy


two out of four possible stars

In a film whose source material is a famous book that's sold millions of copies, one would expect that the screenplay would showcase a number of "in" jokes designed to charm the people in the audience who have already been made fans of the story. And in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the filmmakers seem to have done just that - and somewhat more. Because unless the film was supposed to be as "occasionally" funny as it appears to be to a viewer (like myself) who has no knowledge of the book, it may be that the writer and/or editor went somewhat too far in pushing their creation specifically toward and audience who had already liked the book.

The difficult thing to rationalize about this film is that in being such a jovial and enthusiastic experience and given it's respectable 104 minute running time, the reason why it actually seems to drag in certain spots is one of those questions that may never be answered. Perhaps the characters are too jovial. Perhaps the dialogue is too amenable. Whatever the case, sometimes Hitchhiker goes down just a little bit too smoothly. Despite the scrapes and bumps that Martin Freeman's "Arthur Dent" runs into over the course of the film (Arthur is the protagonist and our everyman-hero), it doesn't seem like he has to work as hard as he should for a resolution to his problems.

Well, the singular, "problem" might be a better descriptor of Arthur's difficulties, because it seems that no matter what obstacle is thrown in his path, everything in his life is a consequence of his resembling a boring, dull Englishman. And Arthur hovers around this tame personality for nearly the entire film. The character is once able to show some brave colors by leading the charge to rescue "Trillian," the woman he's fallen in love with (played erratically by Zooey Deschanel), but beyond that flicker of excitement, most of what Arthur does is whine and complain about his inability to do anything but whine and complain.

That's not to say the character is not sometimes witty and droll, but his character "arc" seems stagnant for a full hundred or so minutes of the film until he finally picks up a head of steam in the very last scene. There's no progression to his eventual personality enhancement. He just suddenly is what he becomes: someone less boring and more apt to engage in unplanned adventure. And it's not a great help to Martin Freeman's cause that Zooey Deschanel might not have been the best choice for a romantic lead opposite him. Although her performance seems to increase in its believability over the course of the film, she finds more success when she's not on the screen with Freeman.

Given the ups and downs regarding the relationship of the lead actors (and how important that relationship is to the story and its resolution), viewers can still take some comfort knowing that Sam Rockwell was cast as the frizzy, blond-haired and slightly insane "Zaphod Beeblebrox," the president of the Galaxy and an all-around motor mouth. His comments and performance easily steal the show from Martin Freeman and his use of physical comedy is just as impressive as his use of comic timing. When audience members tire of watching Freeman muddle around in his character, Rockwell sweeps in with ease to pick up the slack.

Also putting in an enthusiastic and eager performance is Mos Def, playing alien "Ford Prefect," the person responsible for getting Arthur Dent off the planet Earth before it is blown up to make way for an interstellar roadway. Def's comedic range improves with each role he takes and he is one of the strongest performers in Hitchhiker's Guide. The film is given additional sturdy support from the vocal talents of Alan Rickman, who voices the eternally depressed "Marvin," a robot (who was performed by Warwick Davis). Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren also show up well in their smaller roles, each seeming to lessen the impact of the slower, more sedate parts of the film.

But a movie cannot exist on the talents of its supporting performers alone. It is therefore fortunate that there are additional story elements such as the satire of bureaucratic government to further interest viewers. As it seems all citizens of Earth must at some time face the duplicate and triplicate insanity of a hosed system of public services and government, the frequent comments in the film on this type of mess can be widely appreciated. Of course, not all the comments and jokes fall into the audience's lap so easily. There are sequences of dialogue whose droll appearance can only be blamed on some sort of inside joke that the general viewer simply won't understand.

And while it's a common and even fun practice to litter a film with inside jokes, there just might be too little for the casual viewer to appreciate about the characters and situations in this film. They will instead have to settle for the occasionally impressive special effect (there is a sequence where Arthur is carried through space on a convey-belt type apparatus that is really spectacular) or a bit of fun from a supporting actor. And viewers will further have to deal with some story elements that seem to have no pay-off and don't find resolution by the closing credits.

For example, there is this recurring bit about everyone always needing a towel in space which, while it is frequently mentioned is never really explained except very, very briefly at the end of the film when Ford Prefect must fight off some evil aliens. Also, Arthur, Beeblebrox, and Trillian are sent on a mission to find a mysterious gun for religious zealot "Humma Kavula" (this is John Malkovich's odd character) and that mission is never really completed. These difficulties are probably the result of some editing choices in post-production, but they will be stumbling blocks for viewers nonetheless.

Hitchhiker's Guide amounts to some lightly entertaining science fiction fun that might be best appreciated as a movie night at somebody's house with a bunch of pizza and friends. It's not really worthy of stadium seating and a gigantic sound system, even though it's a movie that takes place on a galactic scale. There are creative elements to be appreciated regarding character design and the visual look of space, but the meat of the story, the characters (specifically the main character) don't hold enough punch. It would be a misnomer to call the film "flat," because it has more humor than not, but the overall product will not blow your mind.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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