Monday, May 02, 2005

Oh won't somebody stop and help a guy

I've had a couple days to chew it over and digest the coordinated images and sounds my cerebellum soaked up friday night, so it's time I shared them with your lucky selves.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was good. DAMN good. Naturally, there were ups and downs, but overall I was quite fucking impressed... must've been because I had my towel with me.
Yep, you read that right. While I normally don't get all dressed in costume for a movie, I am a dork at heart. (and bringing along a towel to the theater is a pretty hard costume to fuck up...) It actually came in pretty handy in that cold theater. It was no moon of Jaglan Beta, but still...

So yes, good and bad points. I'll start with my complaints, seeing as I'm pretty good at that. There are some medium-sized spoilers here, so if you're not looking for that, wait a couple days until I make fun of Hasselhoff or catch an athlete fucking ponies or something.

Right. Now for the rest of you (or the ones who are finally coming back to read this after seeing the film) read on and have your thoughts provoked... or simply be provoked, I'm cool with either one. Also, please note that because I sat through about 2 hours of dialogue done in English accents, I'll be speaking and typing in a similar manner for the rest of the week. It's just something that happens to me... deal with it.

While I understand that Mr. Adams himself wrote a good part of the script for the film, and that the story underwent various changes in each of its incarnations... there was a little too much "Hollywood" in it for me. I'll be polite to those of you that haven't seen it, and leave out the details of the Hollywood ending, suffice to say that it exists.

Another thing that really irked me, and frankly took me out of the film at a couple points was the depiction of Zaphod. Granted, he's described as a flaky ex-hippie self-promoter, and I think Sam Rockwell is a great actor... (see Confessions of a Dangerous Mind if you doubt me) But does the above sentence necessitate a bad George Bush impression simply to have a scene where everyone calls the President of the Galaxy stupid? Thanks Hollywood! Why not add a character named "Halliburton McStealallourmoneyandkilleveryoneforoil" while you're at it...
Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I'm simply stating that while it made for good comedy in some scenes, that scene in particular grated on me. It made me remember I was watching the whole thing in a theater with a bunch of strangers, rather than having a good time with a clever story... which is pretty much the antithesis of what a good movie should do.
According to the above-referenced description of Mr. Beeblebrox the Nothingth, can you name a different presidential impression that would be more fitting? Yeah, I can too... but that would offend the political sensibilities of a couple studio executives, so that's right out the window I'm sure.

Towels. There was at least one cool towel-related item that I was pleasantly surprised with. I absolutely loved the swordfight sound effects that were played when Ford brandished his towel as a weapon. Made me laugh every time.
Unfortunately, it only serves to highlight what was lacking in the towel department of the film. While any hoopy frood who knows where their towel is should be someone to be reckoned with, the absence of the Guide's entry on towels made Ford come off as an otherwise decent guy with a crazy-assed towel fetish. Not cool. Especially when you're watching the movie with an orange plaid towel around your neck. (and by a strange coincidence, I was.) I hope the towel entry is in the DVD... which ties in nicely to -

The overall length of the film. To start with such a huge trove of source material and end up with less than two hours of movie is fucking pathetic. Seriously. I think Lord of the Rings proved that audiences will check their goldfish-sized attention spans at the door if they're shown a GOOD film. Even another 10 or 15 minutes would have allowed a lot of great little things into the film that a lot of fans were hoping to see.
My short list would include:
  • The bit about the bypassplans being "on display" in a basement with no stairs in a locked file cabinet bearing a sign that said "beware the leopard." Seriously, leopard jokes have 15% more humor than regular ones.
  • More interaction with the guard on the Vogon Constructor Ship. I liked that he got to say "resistance is useless" but he didn't shout it, dammit.
  • Any of the multiple mentions of Eccentria Gallumbits (though I can understand leaving the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon 6 out of a family-friendly movie)
  • Last and certainly not least - Vroomfondel and Majikthise. While everyone likes Arthur, Ford, and Zaphod (I'm a Ford guy myself) I miss all the bit characters that get tied up in the search for the ultimate question. In fact, I DEMAND that my absolute favorite character in the ill-named trilogy may or may not be Vroomfondel!

Damn, that's a lot more nit-picking than I intended. I should emphasize that I really liked the movie, and will probably see it again. If not twice, depending on availability (and how often I see Star Wars) Furthermore, the things I liked far outweigh the ones I didn't, but it takes much less text to say "this was good." than it does to launch into a diatribe about why something wasn't exactly as I pictured it from a book written 26 years ago.

What roxxored my soxxors:

The Guide entries themselves were spot-on. The BBC TV show entires always seemed a bit cluttered to me, so the simple animations worked for me. Combine this with the outstanding voice work of Steven Fry, who once again provides the Voice of the Guide in the entries and narration of the film. This more than anything allowed me to really enjoy the film (and brought me back when Zaphod W. Bush took me out) Interestingly enough, Mr. Fry claims to hold the UK record for saying "fuck" the most times on a live broadcast... no wonder I respect him so.

The casting director. Fuck, but this was a perfectly cast movie. Rivaling the Cohen Brothers, even.
  • Initially, I was nervous about Mos Def playing a major role, (I thought he sucked in The Italian Job) but he made me completely reconsider his acting chops. Word to Mos's mother.
  • Arthur was pulled directly from the pages of the novel. Martin Freeman is great as a typical Englishman (who knows how to queue) once again. He was also in Shaun of the Dead, which I enjoyed... in a brain-eating way.
  • Zaphod, I've pretty much discussed above. While I don't like some parts of the performance, that's more of a directorial decision rather than a casting one. Sam Rockwell was the barmb.
  • Alan Rickman... fuck if I've even got a superlative for how good he was. He was Marvin - if that doesn't say it, nothing will.

Et Cetera, Et Cetera. Go see it already, instead of reading a fucking blog about it.


Blogger Di said...

I thought Sam Rockwell did a bang up job! I didn't get the "make fun of GWB" vibe at all, but hey, that's me. I also thought Mos Def was underused.

I've been telling people that if they've read the book, they'll dig the movie. But the movie did leave out some things that I thought were important, like the mice on the ship. How did they get there? But the one thing in the movie that I got much more out of than the book was the connection between Trillian and Arthur. I like how that was played out.

But my favorite part was the Magrathean factory floor. Kinda made me dizzy, but it was pretty cool! IMNHO, anyway. =)

1:04 AM, May 03, 2005  

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