The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (DVD)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Vivian and I have actually watched it on the DVD more than a month ago, when I blogged the item on the Babel fish. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) is a Disney published sci-fi comedy featuring late Douglas Noel Adams' fictional work of the same title. Arthur Dent, an average Brit who craves for tea, escaped the destruction of the planet Earth by hitchhiking onto Vogon's construction fleet by the help of his friend Ford Prefect, a humanoid alien somehow got "stuck" on Earth. They then got picked up by two headed "President of the Galaxy" Zaphod Beeblebrox and another earthling Tricia McMillan, and started their interstellar-adventure to find the question to the answer of the Life, Universe and Everything, that is 42.

And the reason that I have been procrastinating to write this entry until more than one month later is, that subsequently I loved H2G2 so much and I am now half way through reading the 5th and final book of the series, Mostly Harmless.

I have previously heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I know that it has a great following to a point that's almost cultish. However, besides knowing 42 as the ultimate answer to the Life, Universe and Everything (like most comp. sci. students there), I have never got my acts together to read it. Anyway, I am almost there finishing reading the series, but I will share about it later -- let's focus on the movie first.

It is a comedy rather than a sci-fi. Thou having nice CGI every now and there, you shouldn't expect Starwars-like space duel in there. It is also very much a British comedy (think Monty Python or Black Adder) -- the lines are witty and satirical, but not necessarily "funny". Martin Freeman was good being Arthur Dent, and had quite an enjoyable performance.

However, this movie also got balanced out by some of the American actors that are just out right laughing out loud type. Sam Rockwell is that super-exaggerated hyper-weird Zaphod Beeblebrox, who probably has the biggest ego in the universe. Very American. Very humours kind of silly. So I guess it has a good combination of both -- witty dialogues and fun acting.

And everyone loves Marvin -- except maybe the robot itself. The "paranoid android" with brain the size of a planet is really adoring in the movie. He has some of the best lines in the whole movie.

Plot-wise, it is pretty faithful to the original book -- for only the first 20 minutes. After Dent and Prefect got picked up by the Heart of Gold, they basically just jump to everywhere with the Infinite Improbability Drive. Though the movie also ends with them going to the Restaurant at the end of the universe, but how they got to that point is all totally different. Many die-hard fan hated it, like how fans usually hate Hollywood rendition of almost everything. However, I find those additional plots quite well done. They do change the characters a bit (especially the romance between Arthur/Trillian, Zaphod/Questular), but it does finish off with a somewhat up beat ending.

It does, however, include quite a few Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy animation entries. Most memorable one is probably about how the existence of God being proved wrong with the Babel fish (as I have blogged previously, which is on the DVD as bonus material). The self-discovery of the sperm whale while it plummets into planet Magrathea was also there and very nicely done, and it is about as thought provoking as in the book.

And that's one thing about the Douglas Adams' writing. As a self-professed "radical atheist" (i.e. not agnostic), the movie reflects very much his view of "godlessness" and the view that world we see is really what there is. Everything just happens -- randomly and in an improbable fashion. We are all like that self-discovering whale plummeting into a planet -- realising our existence, making sense of the surrounding, and then bang! we are gone. It's full of those pictures in both the film and the books, and some of them can be considered quite offensive (if you can't take light-hearted humour). However, I believe it would be useful, as a Christian, to take some of these out and analyse them, so that we would know how to answer when we are similarly challenged.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes for sure. I loved it. However, it might not be for someone who gets easily confused in random plots. I was certainly a bit confused watching it the first time as I have never read the book before, so reading at least the first volume might be a prerequisite. It might also not be suitable for those who get easily offended by seemingly heretic religious references, even though they were written as jokes. Go and watch something else instead.

PS. I rented it from Civic Video next to UNSW for $2 overnight on their Tuesday specials.