This evening Nabila and I went to see Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy. To say this is a home coming for me is sort of an understatement in a "full-circle" kind of way. Before I get to the review, a bit of history is in order.
I grew up in the UK and was always a bit of a sci-fi fan, but also totally in love with the british "ironic" bent of humour. Think Monty Python, Yes Minister, etc...
The BBC TV production of HHGTTG was my first exposure to the saga, and I immediately went out and bought the books. At the time there was only HHGTTG and Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
I devoured them.
After reading the books, I was a bit disappointed that Restaurant was bascially given two episodes at the end of the BBC TV series (a mistake that the movie dosen't make by virtue of the fact that it doesn't include Restaurant at all), but I loved the TV adaptation anyhow. I then got to hear the original BBC radio series at school, in English class, because our English master was a cool guy who was into it also.
Fast forward a couple of years.
I'm in a physics class chatting to a friend of mine, Paul Marsden, and we get around to Hitch Hiker's. We're both massive fans. So we decide to put on a school play. Here's our plan: we'll each take on half of the original book and write the play. So that's what we do. It actually turns out quite good, but we then discover that an actual screenplay has been written and a movie is in pre-production (this is 1985 by the way).
So we write to the production team in that far off place called Hollywood, asking if they could send us a copy of the screenplay and whether they would mind if we used it to produce a school play. We didn't expect any response.
Lo and behold if we didn't get that response. Enclosed was the screenplay and permission to go ahead a do the play!
So produce the play we did.
We played to three packed houses, and made more money for the school than any other production before it (not that any other production had made any money, but we sure did). I have photos from that production - I need to scan them in and embarass everyone involved. Some friends of mine, including Richard Kibble (Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, Deep Thought), Cordelia Molloy (Trillian) and Nicky Hicks (Barmaid, Eddie Two, Benjy mouse, Loon) have gone on to do better and bigger things, so this should be interesting for them! As an aside and a future reminder for me, Richard and I took part in another school show where we performed a Monty Python sketch that was, ahem, not well received by the audience...
The Hollywood production died, and I don't know if it has any relation to the current film - the screenplay sure feels different.
Fast forward a few more years.
I'm working at Magnetic Scrolls on adventure games and the owner, Anita Sinclair, knew Douglas Adams quite well. If fact, rumour had it that the first draft of "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" was printed off on our laser printer.
Fast forward some more.
Douglas Adams dies.
I'm in shock. A hero of my childhood has died. What do you do? Re-read all the books of course.
Fast forward to the present.
OK, time for the actual review. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I think I have the history to call myself an original Hitch Hiker's fan. So even though some people think it doesn't live up to the original books, I don't care. It lives up to the spirit, and to a case in point, yes, some of the original great lines were missed (e.g. in the airlock scene), but they get made up visually - in the airlock scene, you are expecting them to go out the door, but instead they drop through the floor...
The graphics were great, the acting was superb and the script was good enough. Martin Freeman was a great Arthur Dent (even though he's basically playing the same character as in The Office and Love Actually - he'd better watch out about getting typecast as the archetypcal young, English, everyday man), I didn't like the interpretation of Zaphod much (I'm sorry, but he really needs two heads side-by-side), and I loved Zooey Deschanel as Trillian - she played Trillian as the everyday woman who doesn't take any crap, much better than Sandra Dickinson in the original BBC TV series. I especially loved the Whale scene - it worked so well and was basically the same as the great original TV series version.
It was great to hear so many people laughing in the audience. I could hear the jokes that I knew so well being set up, and was waiting in anticipation for the audience reaction. I was not disappointed. Those one liners and clever misdirections work as well today as they did when DNA penned them.
The scenes on Magrathea were exceptional. It was great to see the film-makers pay homage to DNA (as well as the inclusion of the original BBC TV Marvin stuck in line in the Vogon's queue, as well as Simon Jones as the Magrathean answering machine).
I liked it. Go see it. I wanna see it again.
In fact, I want to see them do "Restaurant".