Despite there having been several positive reviews of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy movie before his, MJ Simpson’s vitriolic slamming has been getting more linkage than all the rest combined. This is mainly because, as someone who wrote a book about Douglas Adams, it’s generally considered that he should know what he’s talking about. (Oh, and also because it fulfils all the “I knew they’d screw it up!” paranoia which so many fans seem to treasure.)
To redress the balance somewhat from the only negative review that’s appeared, here are some slightly-more-positive ones:
I loved it. (I clearly saw a different film to Mike Simpson!) Douglas’s family were there and everyone was delighted with the outcome. Imagine you’ve never heard / read / seen any other version of HHGG. You’re all in for a treat – so long as you keep an open mind.
[…] I can tell you that I thought the film was a glorious shambling tribute to the work of Adams, a beautifully realized vision filled to the brim with quirky performances and hilarious details. It’s almost shockingly eccentric and manages to stay very faithful to the spirit of all the previous incarnations of the story while also contributing some fascinating new ideas to the overall mythos.
I would have difficulties to understand someone who says that he’s a Hitchhiker’s fan and hates the movie. This is certainly the best movie we could hope for.
From now on, I’m a great fan of Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith. They really deserve all our respect.
Bearing in mind all the way that this was a rough cut of the movie, with not all the FX finished and the music score not all there, I have never seen anything quite like it, and nothing springs to mind to compare it with. Did I like it? Yes I did, very much. Did I laugh? Oh, yes indeed I did. Very much so.
What some people might be expecting is a version of the radio or TV series with better effects, and those people will be disappointed if that’s all they want. What we do get is a film which still contains a large amount of Douglas’ words but which, more importantly, recognises that film is a visual medium and not radio with pictures. It somehow manages to do the kinds of things with pictures that Douglas did with words in the Radio series and books.
Today I saw the movie for the second time, and once again I find myself coming to the conclusion that I must have been shown a different movie to the one that MJ Simpson saw. Having twice been in a cinema full of people who were laughing all the way through at the movie (and these are British people, for crying out loud!), and then reading that the movie is “staggeringly unfunny” leaves me somewhat confused. Partly because I heard all those people laughing myself with my own ears, but mainly because I loved the film.
If you want a damn fine Hitchhiker’s movie, something that you as a fan (and hence contributor to the original success of Hitchhiker) can be bloody proud of, and something that your non-fan friends will enjoy and finally understand what you’ve been going on about for the last twenty-something years, then this is it.
(Disclaimer: Sean, Tim, Jim and I have been tangentially involved in various stages of the movie’s production and publicity. We’ve also been massive Hitchhiker’s fans since we were young, and have worshipped practically everything Douglas ever wrote. So our perceptions are somewhat coloured.)
And me? Take a wild guess. But in order to redress the balance somewhat the other way, I’m going to make an effort to be as critical as I can:
- A couple of the gags are corny.
- While the four main stars are great, a couple of the other performances don’t work quite as well.
- A couple of bits are rather rushed.
- A couple of my favourite lines are missing.
- That’s it.
(And until I get the chance to think things through and write a proper review, that’s about all you’re getting from me.)
If you’re the kind of Hitchhiker’s fan who’s going to turn up with a checklist and base your opinion on a final total at the bottom then you might not enjoy it. On the other hand, if you’re a fan who realises how different each version of the story has been and who wants to see Hitchhiker’s performed with the kind of visuals (and more importantly, the kind of utterly stunning production design) it deserves, and who, most importantly, wants to see a good new movie, I think you’ll love it too.
To finish, a favourite old quote:
I loved the film of 2001, saw it six times and read the book twice. And then I read a book called The Lost Worlds of 2001
in which Clarke chronicles the disagreements between himself and
Kubrick – he goes through all the ideas left by the wayside, “Look at
this idea he left out, and this idea!”, and at the end of the book one
has an intense admiration for Kubrick.
… from Neil Gaiman’s Don’t Panic, as spoken by Douglas Adams.