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Date: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 at 21:12
Headline: HHGG
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Greetings & Salutations!

Although I wasn't swept up in the geek hysteria that accompanied the Lord Of The Rings films, I could empathize with it. I know what it's like to have a beloved book (or series of such) given the celluloid treatment, and wanting to see it done right. The collective works of the late Douglas Adams are the ticket for me. Yesterday, the long-awaited film adaption of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy was released, and I was eager to check it out.

Was it done right? Pretty much. There were some substantial deviations from the original plot, but since the story has been told in so many permutations over its 20+ years of existence (and through various media -- the novels are the most popular incarnation, but my first and best love will always be the radio plays) there can be no real "definitive" version of which to speak, so complaining about less than 100% fidelity to the narrative is nickpicking as a matter of course. I thought the design of the film was great, the performances worked, and the spirit of the material seemed to be present for the most part. Lots of great cameos and in-jokes for the sake of the fanboys as well.

The down side? Well, this being a stab at not only a commercial but cohesive (read: non-serialized) endeavor, the filmmakers had an artistic tightrope to walk between driving the plot forward while creating characters for the audience to connect with, and adhering to the aforementioned spirit of the material -- which, while brilliant and enduring, was rarely concerned much with either characterization or plot. HHGG on the whole was always more about bizarre philosophical tangents, wild satirical ideas, and verbose, highly stylized joke-telling. The film doesn't always strike the right balance between the two, and its tone is fairly uneven as a result. Sometimes it's Men In Black, sometimes it's Baron Munchausen. For the sake of expediency, a lot of Adams's dialogue has been trimmed down to just enough to get the point across, which I thought diluted some of the humor...but that's coming from me, a die-hard who has large swathes of the books and scripts eternally commited to memory. I'd be very interested in an outsider's perspective of the film. Overall, I thought it was a worthy effort, and I plan to see it again soon. Perhaps it won't seem as disjointed now that I know exactly what I'm walking into.

TB