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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Year: 2005
Director: Garth Jennings
Writer: Douglas Adams
Cast: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman (voice), Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, Warwick Davis, Stephen Fry (voice)
It was a hard task for anyone wanting to make a movie about one of the best loved entertainment institutions in the world, but all in all the producers and first time director did as good a job as they could have.

Telling the well known story of Englishman Arthur Dent (Freeman) whose friend Ford Prefect (Def) shows up with news the world will be demolished in only minutes courtesy of the Vogons, it tracks Arthur's adventures in outer space with his friend, the shallow galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox (Rockwell), and the girl he nearly picked up at a party weeks before, Trisha (Deschanel).

It's both faithful and dismissive of the books (necessary in some ways because of the disparate length of the two). It plays up the romantic angle between Arthur and Trisha that was never in the series (making it a bit more American-friendly no doubt) and yet the producers understood most of the iconic fixtures and their importance to the story, such as Deep Thought.

Startibartfast (Nighy) and the whole thing about Earth Mark II being built to find the question to Deep Thought's answer was used as the climax of the film as a way to return Arthur to the home exactly as he left it that I didn't remember from the book, but undoubtedly countless liberties were taken with the source material.

Some of Adams' satire was firmly in place - such as the religious cult led by John Malkovich (awaiting the return of the Great White Handkercheif) and the stifling bureaucracy of the Vogons. And the makeup, creatures, effects and humour were all just enough to make it a pleasurable if not completely faithful movie.

Interesting also that Arthur is the lead character but (betraying Hollywood politics to the observant), his name isn't until third or forth in the credits after the American actors).

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