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Hitchhiker's Movie is Bad, says Adams Biographer 925

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the breaking-my-heart dept.
Rollerbob writes "MJ Simpson, who has 'been studying and documenting the life and career of Douglas Adams for more than 20 years', has written a very in-depth review and plot analysis of the Hitchhiker's movie. As well as the full review that contains SPOILERS , he has also published a shortened spoiler-free version, as well as a list of things from the radio plays, records, books and TV series that have not been included in the movie. Hitchhiker's fans, prepare to be like Marvin ... very depressed."
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Hitchhiker's Movie is Bad, says Adams Biographer

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  • Not just bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:46AM (#12193513)
    "Really bad"
    "vastly, staggeringly, jaw-droppingly bad"
    "bad on a big scale"
    "bad on a small scale"
    "staggeringly unfunny"
    "unfunny, pointless crap"
    "an abomination"
    "amazingly, mindbogglingly awful"
    "a terrible, terrible film"

    (And that's from the short review)

    • by g2ek (852570) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:52AM (#12193573)
      sounds like good old marvin ;)
      • Don't Panic (Score:4, Funny)

        by ericof (175183) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:02PM (#12193647)
        If this movie is as bad as the review states... It will have a long life in the theaters ;-)

        (But, don't you think, Marvin should look like Bender?)
        • Re:Don't Panic (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mycroft_VIII (572950)
          I just saw a trailer for this movie that had Marvin in it. Needless to say that robot looked as much like my mental image of robot as a bowling ball resembles snow, that is NOT AT ALL.
          This worries me just a tad, the review doesn't help eigther.

          Mycroft
        • Re:Don't Panic (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bluenawab (595006)
          absolutely... Bender is Marvin with Zaphod's personality...
    • Re:Not just bad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They took most of the jokes out, and the jokes they left in were changed around. Also they simplified a bunch of stuff so that people who haven't read HHGTTG could understand what was going on, yet they didn't explain the plot really at all.

      On a side note, I thought the BBC-TV series was actually pretty good, but apparently I'm the only one that thinks so. Maybe I have a soft spot for it because I saw it when I was much younger...
      • by wasted (94866) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:16PM (#12194163)
        If the reviewer is accurate, (and I have no reason to doubt it,) this movie is nothing like Mr. Adams would have wanted.

        I believe Douglas Adams once made a comment about how good humor was a gift to the intelligent - those that weren't intelligent really didn't understand it. Judging from the long review, this movie isn't aimed at an intelligent audience.

        I guess I'll wait for it to hit video (maybe late May,) and rent it on a day when I want to punish myself and feel bad.
        • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @03:10PM (#12194993) Journal
          this movie isn't aimed at an intelligent audience
          No, it's aimed at Americans.

          I'm not saying this as flamebait, I'm saying it as an example of precisely what the studios would have been thinking as they tried to figure out what would bring them the largest possible return on their investment. British humor seems to be popular with geeks in the US, but it doesn't appeal to the population at large. And this isn't meant to be a value judgement about which type of humor is better. Americans do great slapstick and physical comedy and that isn't as well appreciated by the British. In fact, Britain has produced a few geniuses in the area of physical comedy who are appreciated everywhere in the world apart from in Britian (eg. Benny Hill).

          • by Hast (24833) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @04:44PM (#12195569)
            Reminds me of an interview I read with Terry Pratchett. He said that his book "Mort" was up for a movie with an American movie studio. They had made a script out of it and presented it to the descision makers, their comment was "Really good! But lose the Death character, it's too depressing."

            For those that don't know that book is about how Death takes on an apprentice (Mort). He's pretty crusial to the plot.
          • Different cultures (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @05:56PM (#12195939) Journal
            British comedy culture is just different. There have been several attempts to translate british comedies to the american market and not with success.

            The most well known is Red Dwarf. A classic BBC sci-fi comedy that was well received all over the world. Well all over the world by geeks and nerds. For reasons unknown some americans wanted to make an american version of it but altered for american tastes. They made a pilot wich at times can be found on P2P networks. It is so bad that it never saw the light of day on american tv.

            Why was it so bad? Somehow the american producers who obviously must have seen the original just didn't seem to get it. They changed all the characters that just clicked in the original into versions that just didn't work. The original crew is a bunch of loosers. Nobodies thrown together and never winning. The american version makes them more hollywood. Lister less of a slob. Rimmer likable. For some reason the american producers never seemed to have gotten what made the british original work and become so loved.

            It is not on its own. The british comedy classic "doing porridge" was adapted for american tv as well and bombed. Where the original was a comedy set in prison where there was humor in a non-humorous setting, a classic ep has just the two actors talking during the night confinement in their cell, the american version came closer to a regular light hearted sitcom.

            It is not all one way however. The american "who's the boss" has a british version as well but missing all the chemistry. It is cold, sensible british and misses the italian fire that tony danza and whats her name brought to the original.

            The biggest problem I think in making an adoptation of something is in that you are making an adoptation. Red Dwarf, Doing porridge, Who's the boss ALL did well in their original country AND in other parts of the world. So why then try to chance it? Because you want to reach an even bigger market? How can you possibly achieve this? Only by making your version more bland and less likely to upset the tastes of your expanded audience. Remove the slobbness from lister, remove the harsh reality of doing time from a jail comedy, remove lenghty dialog from the guide.

            Some saying goes something like this, the translator is a traitor. I think this is very true when trying to translate a story to a new audience. These people who made the guide movie did not try to make a movie for guide fans. They made on for the "hollywood" audience. In doing so they had to loose elements that were to "geeky" or to "nerdy" like the guide itself and replace it with slapstick.

            This movie is simply not aimed at us guide fans. For every popular story there is a porn version. Complaining that these porn versions are not fatefull to the original is just as pointless as complaining these hollywood versions are not faithfull. They have an audience to please that does not know or care about the originals.

            If there is going to be a guide movie then it can only really come from the BBC. Just take the tv eps and watch them in one sitting with stale popcorn and an overpriced coke.

            • by protohiro1 (590732) on Monday April 11, 2005 @12:35AM (#12197789) Homepage Journal
              So much british humour is about losers, morons, ugly people, rude people and bad people. Conventional wisdom in hollywoods is that no one wants to see ugly, rude, stupid losers. Or if they do there should be some sort of "likeable" character in all that. Or the loser should become a hero. This kills british humour. See: Men Behaving Badly british version vs American version. Also note the shortage of unattractive people in American sitcoms. (but note the number of unattractive people in SUCCESSFUL American sitcoms...)
      • by tylernt (581794) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @03:10PM (#12194992)
        "I thought the BBC-TV series was actually pretty good, but apparently I'm the only one that thinks so"

        I also really enjoyed the BBC series. Of course, this from someone who also loved "Logans Run" and "Battle Beyond the Stars".
    • by quantaman (517394) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:59AM (#12193623)
      I know, one of the things I've always found hardest to understand about Movie Reviewers was their habit of continuously stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in "It's a comedy", or "It's a very long movie", or "Oh dear they've adapted this movie from a book and made it really really bad".
    • Re:Not just bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by provolt (54870) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:10PM (#12193709)
      To all of us waiting for the film, I think there are really only two words that need to go with a bad review:

      DON'T PANIC

      It's just one review. You know you'll spend your 8 bucks anyway.
      • Re:Not just bad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:19PM (#12193779) Homepage
        Of course I won't. I'll wait for a couple more reviews.

        Look, if people are willing to pay for bad movies (when there are very many good movies produced independently), why should they bother making good ones?

        Maybe geeks should consider spending their 8 bucks on a film that isn't science fiction, if the science fiction films that come out stink. There's Nobody Knows, [imdb.com] an excellent film from Japanese director Kore-eda, that is making the rounds. No aliens, no hackers, no special effects, no cheap closure. Maybe if films like that got some geek-cash, then they'd start creating sci-fi films of a similar caliber again (like Gattaca.)
      • Re:Not just bad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 2short (466733) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:36PM (#12193916)

        Of course I won't. I'll read the long review, which goes iinto more than enough detail to let me understand that the reviewer knows what he's talking about. I'm not going to pay 8 bucks for a movie just because it's called "Hitchhikers Guide". The reviewer provides extensive examples to justify his claim that the makers of the movie did not understand what made Hithhikers worthwhile.
      • Re:Not just bad (Score:3, Insightful)

        by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
        As a rule I disregard everything said by movie-reviewers and pundits.

        Seriously, unless you read the same person's reviews all the time and know that they have the same taste as you what is the point?

        As an aside there have been a few bad reviews for Sin City. I thought that movie was amazing.
        • by itomato (91092) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @02:32PM (#12194728)
          Because it's not an opinion of a movie.

          It is a detailed examination of the long-awaited film adaptation of a much-loved science-fiction book by an individual who knows the material, loves the material, and feels deeply that what made the story worth making into a movie has not been represented.

          I know the story, and that's what I want to know. Did they fuck up.

          That's all I want to know when I read any movie review. If I have an opinion, I want a review to match. If it's "New Movie Du Jour", I could care less, even go without a review - like Sin City.

          From what I understand, Sin City is a triumph in regards to "telling the tale". HHG is exactly the opposite.

        • Re:Not just bad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2005 @03:19PM (#12195060)
          Seriously, unless you read the same person's reviews all the time and know that they have the same taste as you what is the point?

          They don't have to have the same taste at all. They need to have a consistent and recognizable taste. Look, I don't agree with everything Roger Ebert says, but I can tell by his review of a film how likely I am to enjoy it.

          Also, I don't know Simpson's tastes except that he (or she, as the case may be) likes Douglas Adams' work. However, the first paragraph of the short review, which all fans should recognize as an homage to the Guide entry on space, gives me a pretty good indication that Simpson is probably approaching the film from a position similar to mine.

          But if I was still skeptical, this early example in the long review tells me everything I need to know:
          The dialogue between Arthur and Prosser, which was written for a sketch in a Cambridge Footlights revue in October 1973, is a terrific example of Douglas' clever way with - and love of - language:

          "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

          "That's the Display Department."
          "With a torch."
          "The lights had probably gone."
          "So had the stairs."
          "But you found the plans, didn't you?"
          "Oh yes, they were 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'"
          Or, as the movie version has it:
          "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

          "But you found the plans, didn't you?"
          Can you spot what has been removed from this scene, gentle reader, in order to shorten it? That's right. The jokes. The jokes have gone. The funny bits, the wit, the humour. The clever stuff that made it worth including in the first place.
          We are kindred spirits, MJ Simpson and I, and we are hurting.
      • Of course, "Don't Panic" was one of the useless, unncessary and redundant phrases cut from the movie.

    • by katharsis83 (581371) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:01PM (#12194075)
      "This is a terrible, terrible film and it makes me want to weep."

      Ouch.
    • by yoz (3735) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @07:44PM (#12196423) Homepage

      Saw it this morning, actually, for the second time - first was a 95% complete cut similar to the one Simpson saw, the second was the final edit. I went along with my friends Tim Browse (his review [slashdot.org]) and Sean Sollé (his review [douglasadams.se]) - all of us worked with Douglas at The Digital Village [tdv.com], a company we joined mainly because we were already massive Hitchhiker's fans. (If you need further credentials for me, look here [douglasadams.com].

      We've been involved with the film at various stages [google.com]. Thus, the disclaimer. However, please also be aware that none of us would be defending a film that crapped all over Douglas's work, especially since it was such a fundamental part of our youth.

      Most (though not all) of the spoilers that Simpson reveals in his review are true. Yes, the lying-in-front-of-a-bulldozer dialogue has been cut short. Yes, several key Guide entries are missing. Yes, some of the dialogue isn't as funny as it could have been, and a couple of the gags are corny rather than sharp. (Note: I said a couple. It's nearly two hours of film, there are still tons of good lines in there.)

      It's at this point that Simpson's opinion of the movie and mine diverge rather radically, because he seems to think that you can judge the film's merits almost purely on what's missing, in combination with things that don't appear as quite as he'd have liked them. Personally, I loved it to bits. It's not perfect, certainly, and I agree with a couple of his criticisms (though with about 5% of his severity). But I fundamentally feel that it's true to the spirit of Hitchhiker's in so many ways, not just through the storyline and script (which is far, far better than MJ would have you believe) but also through visuals and design that are utter genius, reimagining Douglas's creations in totally new ways that still seem completely in keeping with his intentions. It wears its Britishness in a far more open and interesting way than any previous version of the story - the Vogons, in particular, are a satire of traditional English bureaucracy that borders on Hogarthian.

      I could go through MJ's review point-by-point and debunk all the stuff - and there's plenty of it - which he's blown wildly out of proportion, or which is based on utterly blinkered thinking, or which is just plain wrong. But then, that would be succumbing to exactly the kind of checklist mentality that he has, and god, how I hate that. He seems to just want the radio and TV series again, on a bigger budget, thus completely misunderstanding the demands that the different media have. His review reads like he went in with a notepad and took score through the film, subtracting ten points every time a line from the original went astray, and based his final opinion on that. As others have said in this thread, it's exactly the same kind of fanboy nonsense that had LoTR fans doomsaying before its release, and it's just bullshit.

      If you're the kind of fan who works that way, who demands pure fidelity to the original and nothing but, then you won't like this movie. However, given that every incarnation of Hitchhiker's has been pretty different (and this movie is staunchly in the same tradition), I'd say that you're a fan who's utterly missing the point. Simpson, in loudly complaining that the film's plot veers wildly all over the place, makes me wonder which "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" he's a fan of, 'cos it certainly isn't one I've ever seen. His review is also the only negative one I've read from a major fan - contrast it with this review from Jens Kellenberg [douglasadams.se], who runs one of the biggest HHGTTG [douglasadams.se]

  • Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wizy (38347) <greggatghc.gmail@com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:46AM (#12193515) Journal
    We all knew they couldnt fit the whole series in one movie. It should have been a trilogy at least.

    But to remove Milliways, Disaster Area, and prehistoric Earth completely? Thats just horrible. It is not the same story. They have commited murder here. This movie should be renamed.
    • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:48AM (#12193536)
      As the review points out, the radio and play versions are two hours. There's no reason a movie couldn't be.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by getling (114602) <getling&gmail,com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:23PM (#12194216) Homepage
        Background: I am a techie and an actor (Wil Wheaton, back me up here!)

        A lot of people complaining about parts of the book that have been cut in the film version are forgetting a key difference: film is a visual medium, whereas radio, book and text based games are primarily lingual in nature.

        Therefore, in the case of some books that have a very visual style to them (a la Fight Club), they translate very well and relatively literally into movies. HOWEVER, when the book is as complex linguistically as the H2G2 series (and all of Douglas Adams' wonderful writing - he really was a wordsmith in the best sense of the word), you are forced to make more cuts and changes because of the difference in media.

        Don't believe me? Re-listen to the radio play, and attempt to visualize it as scenes from a movie. I defy you to do so without it being a mind-numblingly slow paced film.

        • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @04:48PM (#12195594) Journal
          Maybe people would rather see a mind-numbingly slow paced film than gratuitous and vacuous eye candy? Maybe people aren't as shallow and drool-ridden as some Hollywood directors seem to think? Maybe good movies can be made with million-dollar special effects augmenting dialogue and character development instead of replacing it entirely? Watch "Casablanca" again. Then watch "On the Waterfront". Then watch "Citizen Kane". Then watch "Seven Samurai". Keep watching them until you reach enlightenment. For a recent example which didn't completely fail, watch the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, although it too felt, a little too strongly for my taste, the temptation of big budget special effects at the expense of story.

          [OT philisophical waxing] Perhaps this very issue is what drives many to watch so much anime. One of the features which drives some Americans away from Japanese 'cartoons' is that they don't have great animation. In fact, the animation is quite minimal. While this may have been done from budgetary necessity early on, some recent successful anime have been just as minimalist. Lack of sophistication in animation technique forces the viewer to concentrate on other aspects of the show, like plot and character. Ask anyone who's into Cowboy Bebop or GITS why they like it. Heck, even .hack//SIGN had a half-decent story with believable characters. If these elements don't stand, you end up with a crappy product. Alas, even the Japanese anime industry sometimes sacrifices plot for explosions. For an example, see Dragonball Z. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I like spacing out and watching mutated muscle-men blow each other up. I just want to have alternatives. [wax off]

          Who knows, maybe this Hitchhiker movie will be a success. But I've resigned myself to expect very little from it.

    • by cpghost (719344) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:52AM (#12193570) Homepage

      The movie is not 100% accurate? Oh, you mean just like the Guide?

    • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angry Toad (314562) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:54AM (#12193589)

      To be fair Milliway's and the prehistoric Earth are both from the *second* book, not the original H2G2.

    • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xiaomonkey (872442) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:59AM (#12193627)
      Reminds me of the upcoming "Doom" movie, that I heard neither takes place on mars, nor features hell demons. That is, the movie is suppose to take place in a secret lab on earth and feature a virus that mutates people into horrible monsters - so think another 'resident evil' like movie.

      Anyhow, there were only 2 things they needed to get right to make the "Doom" movie "Doom", and the folks over in hollywood just couldn't handle it. Does it surprize anyone that they couldn't get it right for something more sophisticated like this?

      Sometimes, we get lucky with something like 'Lord of the Rings', but I think that's probably the exception and not the rule.
      • by Jerf (17166) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:20PM (#12194192) Journal
        LOTR wasn't Hollywood. Sure, Hollywood did the distro and their names are thus on it, but Peter Jackson was on the other side of the world, using local work as much as possible, and it shows. I don't think you can credit Hollywood, rather, it shows what can be done if they give money to good people, but don't demand to "Hollywood up" the resulting picture.

        Having seen the Trilogy, it can be quite difficult to remember how bad it could have been; this HHGTTG movie review should serve as a reminder.

        "We don't get this whole 'elf' thing; shouldn't they be singing, dancing, and drunk the whole movie?"

        "Gandalf is a wizard, why doesn't he cast more spells? Oh, wouldn't it be cool if he took over the mind of the orc chieftan and made him slay his companions? And maybe he can teleport people, but only elves or something, or they get turned inside out. And..."

        "OK, get this... what if when the hobbits are fleeing from the Black Rider, we make it a car chase? We could get sponserships from Ford and Chevy! Awe$ome!"

        "People aren't going to understand this 'Ring' thing. Can we just do away with the Ring entirely? We'll turn the quest into one to stab the Eye of Sauron with a sharp, pointy stick. Uh, of magic."

        "Shouldn't the orcs have a Jamaican accent and be sort of bumbling? Lots of slapstick there..."

        "What if we get Samuel Jackson to play Frodo?"

        (OK, that last one is kind of interesting, though probably not in a way that would make a good movie... get your hands off my ring, motherfucker!!!!)
    • by lurch_mojoff (867210) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:12PM (#12193723)
      It should have been a trilogy at least.
      A trilogy of five, to be precise. ^__^
  • Ah crap. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:47AM (#12193524)
    If this review is true, then I can't properly convey my disappointment.

    Nostalgia is a powerful thing and I guess hoping that the movie could bring back some of the feeling I had from reading the first three books and playing the Infocom game was a little unrealistic.

  • by Alcimedes (398213) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:51AM (#12193556)
    Sorry, but I guess I liked the Hitchhiker's series enough that I'll go see it anyway. Hell, I sat through the new Star Wars series thus far, and that was punishment enough.

    As long as there's no JarJar, I guess I won't leave too pissed.
    • Re:I'm a Sucker (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bastian (66383)
      I liked the Hitchhiker's series enough that I won't go see it if it doesn't do it justice. I get annoyed at folks who keep giving money to Hollywood just becaue it releases a movie with some characters they like. This whole Ep1&2&3 and remakes thing is a great example - I'd be much happier to see all the Star Wars fans out there vote with their feet to give George Lucas a strong message that he shouldn't take his fans for granted. Instead, they respond to his attempt to rape the series for cash b
    • Re:I'm a Sucker (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mickwd (196449) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @02:22PM (#12194646)
      "Sorry, but I guess I liked the Hitchhiker's series enough that I'll go see it anyway."

      Thanks, mate.

      People like you are the reason that Hollywood doesn't need to bother making good films any more.
  • by grahams (5366) * on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:52AM (#12193574) Homepage
    I remember similar discussions over plot removal in Lord of the Rings... I'll reserve judgement until I actually see the film, as opposed to reading someone's fanboy opinion.
    • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:03PM (#12193651) Homepage
      Except this guy gives specifics, and the specifics are terrible.

      Also dialogue, which was (as the reviewer points out) always the best part.

      An example he gives:
      "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

      "That's the Display Department."
      "With a torch."
      "The lights had probably gone."
      "So had the stairs."
      "But you found the plans, didn't you?"
      "Oh yes, they were 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'"

      Or, as the movie version has it:

      "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
      "But you found the plans, didn't you?"
      He gives other examples but I think you get the point. The things that made the story so much fun have been ruthelessly truncated.
    • by Cyberblah (140887) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:03PM (#12193654) Homepage
      Well, while it could still be fan exaggeration, I think "they took the jokes out" is a criticism much more damning than "They left out [Tom Bombadil | scouring the Shire | any other single plot event]!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:55AM (#12193593)
    The dialogue between Arthur and Prosser, which was written for a sketch in a Cambridge Footlights revue in October 1973, is a terrific example of Douglas' clever way with - and love of - language:

    "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
    "That's the Display Department."
    "With a torch."
    "The lights had probably gone."
    "So had the stairs."
    "But you found the plans, didn't you?"
    "Oh yes, they were 'on display' in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.'"

    Or, as the movie version has it:

    "I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
    "But you found the plans, didn't you?"

    I personally, with no intention to troll, feel that this is what happens when you let an American write English humour. The writer clearly had no concept of what made that scene funny - in his mind, it was a joke about not being able to find something. The dialogue simpoly went over his head.

    • by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:12PM (#12193730) Homepage
      The odd thing is, though, that here [go.com] the screenwriter, Karey Kirkpatrick, discusses just those things that make Adams' writing Adams' writing, and it really seemed he got it.
      • by Mycroft_VIII (572950) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:42PM (#12193950) Journal
        Sadly even if the screenwriter got it, that doesn't mean everyone else who gets to muck with the script and how it winds up onscreen did.
        I saw a tv interview a while back with a screenwriter about the process that goes from initial story to what the actors actually say. sometimes the screenwriter is just some guy who does a lot of the actual typing work for ver 0.9beta when it's version 3.7 that hits the screen.

        Mycroft
    • by back_pages (600753) <.back_pages. .at. .cox.net.> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:29PM (#12193854) Journal
      I personally, with no intention to troll, feel that this is what happens when you let an American write English humour.

      This sentence does not parse.

      First, let's put that dependent clause where it belongs.

      I personally feel, with no intention to troll, that this is what happens when you let an American write English humour.

      Second, there is no coherent relationship between "I personally feel" and "with no intention to troll". What does "without intention to troll" actually mean? Perhaps you meant "without intention of trolling" or "without intending to troll"? I'll choose the latter. That resolved, what does it mean to feel, personally or otherwise, without intending to troll? Perhaps you meant, "I opine, without intending to troll". Now it is clear that you are publicly offering your opinion without intending to troll rather than thinking to yourself without intending to troll.

      I opine, without intending to troll, that this is what happens when you let an American write English humour.

      Brilliant!

      I opine that this is what happens when you let an Englishman write English.

      Kindest regards, an American.

    • Please don't tar all of america with hollywoods issues. Many hollwyood writers, having no real exposure to the reading of actual novels, completely miss everything that makes a good novel good. It's not about the subtle (or not so in some cases) differences between British and American humour.
      I can see why that scene is funny, and I live less than 100 miles from dead center of the lower 48. Now admittedly it's only mild chuckle funny and not rotflmao funny to me, but I still 'get' it.
      Damn hollywood
  • by TempusMagus (723668) * on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:55AM (#12193597) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but these types of reviews are simply the worst on account of the person being so terribly close/obsessed to the orginal source material. Why not ask my ex-wife to give my current girlfriend a review of me?
    • by TempusMagus (723668) * on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:14PM (#12193745) Homepage Journal
      [quote]In other words, from the audience's point of view, it matters not a jot whether Douglas Adams wrote any particular part of this movie; it only matters that it should sound like he wrote it.[/quote] The guy actually says this. No, it only matters if the FILM IS GOOD. I don't care if it sounds like him one whit.
    • Exactly. I remember some early fanboy "reviews" of LOTR and the endless complaints about it not being faithful to the book.

      Everything I've read so far regarding this movie and its early screenings have been fairly positive, but none of the writers who wrote those pieces (the guardian had a favorable piece I recall) were DNA's biographer, thus the lack of severe bias and hysterics.

      My real concern is that its always been difficult to sell an absurdist comedy or even just British comedy to American audiences
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:57AM (#12193610) Homepage
    The write up understates it, I think. From TFA:
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie is bad. Really bad. You just won't believe how vastly, staggeringly, jaw-droppingly bad it is. I mean, you might think that The Phantom Menace was a hopelessly misguided attempt to reinvent a much-loved franchise by people who, though well-intentioned, completely failed to understand what made the original popular - but that's just peanuts to the Hitchhiker's movie.
  • Another review (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xeo 024 (755161) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @11:59AM (#12193621)
    Here is another review [aintitcool.com] of the movie.

    "One thing's for sure... Douglas Adams would be very proud. In the end, that's the greatest success that Robbie Stamp and Spyglass Entertainment and Jay Roach and Touchstone could have hoped for."
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:01PM (#12193640) Homepage Journal

    HHGTTG is a Disney movie. The Walt Disney Company is notorious for screwing with the plot lines and leaving out theme-essential elements [losingnemo.com] of stories that it adapts into films.

    • by LoadStar (532607) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:20PM (#12193781)
      HHGTTG is a Touchstone movie, not a Disney movie. Yes, yes, I know, Touchstone is owned by the Walt Disney Company, but the types of movies that Touchstone produces are far different from the types of movies that Disney produces.

      Additionally, the creative decisions that Disney makes have no bearing on the creative decisions that Touchstone makes.
  • by Gadgetfreak (97865) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:04PM (#12193664)
    I think the main reason why the book is so well loved (it's one of the few books I've actually re-read) is because of the writing style, not just the plot.

    Most of the humor and entertainment is in the narrative, and that rarely translates into a good movie.

  • Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JensR (12975) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:07PM (#12193681) Homepage
    DNA himself knew that the book wouldn't work as a movie, so he wrote a completely new story-line. And if I remember the "interview" with the scriptwriter he tried to add a lot of stuff from the books that had to be cut.
    So if you expect a re-telling of all the books you will be disappointed. It is the same way as the books are not a re-telling of the radio series (where are the bird people? or the robot disco?).
    I'm not going to read any reviews, because I want to see the movie with an open mind. And I hope I remember to take my towel.
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:11PM (#12193717)
    I've heard that this movie is so bad that the audience is urged to view it from the safe distance of thirty-seven miles from the screen in a well-built lightproof bunker, only after their eyes are gouged out. The director is now rumored to be serving eternity dead for "he really pissed off some geeks" reasons.
  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel@nosPam.bcgreen.com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:12PM (#12193720) Homepage Journal
    Now, we're all going to have to go see it just to se if it really is that bad.
    • by Finuvir (596566)
      Now, we're all going to have to go see it
      just to se if it really is that bad.

      Oh come on! How many people weren't planning on seeing it but have changed their minds based on a bad review? Sure most of us will go despite the review but no-one's going to see it because of the review.

  • Anyone who says... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:12PM (#12193726) Homepage
    That the Hitchhiker's video game was good should not be trusted to review anything. I love Douglas Adams's work as much as the next person. Hell, I love it a whole hell of a lot more than the next person, but the Hitchhiker's video game was cleverly awful.

    So many unsolvable puzzles. How the hell was I supposed to know that I needed the junk mail. If I had unlimited inventory, I would have picked up everything. It says fucking JUNK in the fucking name. Ha Ha. Really clever! Not fun to play though.

    He calls Adams's dialogue "perfect." While it is teriffic, nothing is perfect. This review reeks of idolatry.

    I don't know if this movie will be good. I will see it. I am encouraged that the producers appear to have put a great deal of care into the visuals judging by the trailers.

    This isn't going to be Adams's work. I'm not expecting something as monumental as the radio series or the book. Even Adams himself lived in the shadow of that book. You don't make a masterpiece every time you paint a picture. I'm just looking for a good time.
  • I had a sinking feeling about the movie when I saw a trailer at the theater last month. It felt a bit off. The understated, humourous way in which the novels dealt with "big issues" was joyful to read as a child. The BBC series was low-budget and corny, with a late 70's Dr. Who feel to it, but the material was the star, not the actors or special effects.

    I suppose I will drag myself over to the local video store and rent the old BBC series for kicks when the movie opens....
  • by ari_j (90255) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:18PM (#12193770)
    From the list of things that aren't in the film:
    * The Guide entry on towels

    Those bastards forgot their towel!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:20PM (#12193783)
    As soon as I heard Disney was involved with this project (especially after Adams' untimely death, so he'd be unable to do anything to save the integrity of the story), I knew it was doomed.

    The British wit is what made the HHGG books so great-- but it would soar over the heads of the vast majority of Americans, who are too busy watching reality shows to have ever heard of, much less read, anything Douglas Adams ever put on paper. So it was a foregone conclusion that much of the essence of the book was going to be dumbed down or removed outright and replaced with poopy jokes or some such.

    On a positive note, they are making a movie version of The Honeymooners with an all-black cast, and unnecessarily remaking The Bad News Bears this year, too (must they rape EVERY fond memory of my childhood for money???), so HHGG might not be the worst movie this year in terms of offending fans of a cherished American pop-culture institution.
  • by coaxial (28297) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:59PM (#12194057) Homepage
    If you've read the book, you already know the story, so how can the movie be spoiled? Of course I'm sure there are many people that went to see The Passion of the Christ and said, "Don't tell me how it ends!"
  • by kid-noodle (669957) <jono@ n a n o s h e e p .net> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:17PM (#12194171) Homepage
    Because for crying out loud - just compare the original radio play, the books, the new radio play, the tv series..

    Douglas Adams was a sensible person, you don't go out and carbon copy what works sublimely as a radio play, and sell it as a book - you reinterpret, you cut bits you didn't like etc. etc.

    From what I've seen, the movie looks sod all like the other interpretations, but it retains the spirit of the work - H2G2 doesn't work if you do a straight translation to film, just try and imagine it. You also have to deal with the largely chaotic nature of the original, the episodic framework, and the fact that in the play it's ok to stop a couple of times per episode to have the Guide explain what the hell is going on with Milliways for example.

    Douglas Adams was barely faithful in transition.
    The new radio series is totally disconnected from the first two, and that worked out great.

    This guy knows so much about Douglas Adams? He should certainly know that. It was even a running gag - in cases where the Guide is innacurate, it is always reality that has it wrong.

    So, Don't Panic, for crying out loud.
  • by Banner (17158) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:48PM (#12194383) Journal
    I don't trust most movie critics because honestly most wouldn't know a good movie if it bit them on the butt. And just because you're writing someone's biography it doesn't mean you understand them, or even -Like- them!

    The proof will be in the pudding. We will all just have to see it and make up our own minds. Taking the word of someone who's life is so boring that he spends all of his time writing about other people's isn't what I would call a good bet.
  • by Mark Hood (1630) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @04:21PM (#12195441) Homepage
    Try Empire [empireonline.co.uk], a British film magazine that has been panicking over the Hitchhiker's movie since it was first announced, and has now released their full review [empireonline.co.uk].

    4 stars (out of 5) and the quickie write up says:

    Mostly harmless. A very British, very funny sci-fi misadventure that's guaranteed to win converts. Want to go to The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe now, please.

    They admit it's not perfect, but their review's a damn sight more positive than the linked one.

    As we said, those hardcore Hitchhikers out there have little to worry about. Although they should be warned that the movie's faithfulness means all its best jokes will be very familiar. For them, it's more a case of basking comfortably in the nostalgia than laughing out loud. But if you're new to all this, and have no idea about the significance of towels, or what a whale and a bowl of petunias have in common, then, boy, are you in for a treat...

    Mark
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @04:42PM (#12195557)

    (Disclaimer: I've been a hitchhiker fan for longer than I care to remember, and was lucky enough to work with Douglas for a few years at The Digital Village [tdv.com], and have been peripherally involved with some of the publicity material for the film, so you can deduce whatever bias you like from that.)

    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.

    For any hitchhiker fan, there will be moments in the film that you feel are not what you expected, or that bits were left out that you wish weren't. This is inevitable, no matter how good the movie was. This is just a fact of life when adapting a book - you're never going to capture everyone's imaginings and commit them to film. It's just part of the compromise you go through when you adapt a verbal medium to a visual medium. Neither are you going to 'get everything in'.

    For me, the clearest indication of this is Simpson's laundry list of stuff that isn't in the film, that presumably he feels should be. Suffice it to say that if all that stuff was in the film, I don't think it would be a film I would want to watch. Pointing out that the description of the Vogon ships hanging in the air "in exactly the same way that bricks don't" is not in the film shows a stunning lack of understanding of what makes a good film. I can find a lot of descriptive prose in the books that didn't make it into the film - and you can probably guess why.

    I mean, how was that going to work? Was Arthur going to say something like "See that spaceship Ford? Have you noticed the way it hangs in the air in exactly the same way that bricks don't?" I'm sure that would have been the beginnings of a cracking screenplay.

    The simple fact is, which most people seem not to grasp, is that, yes, you could have put, e.g. the full conversation between Arthur and Mr Prosser into the movie, and it might only have taken an extra 30 seconds, but in, say, a 90 minute movie, you only have a limited number of 30 second chunks. If you remained faithful to every piece of dialogue in the source material, you'd over-run by at least an hour. At least.

    Also included in that list is a load of stuff from the 2nd book, when the film makers have repeatedly stated that this film is based on the first book only (and not on all the books as some posters seem to believe). I mean, if it was based on all the books, how much stuff would they have to have left out then?

    I've seen moans that the Guide entry on towels is not in the movie, how could it be left out, etc. conveniently forgetting that this entry didn't even appear in the first radio series. Also, if you think towels don't feature in the movie, think again.

    As for the movie that I actually watched - as I said, I loved it. The acting was great - far from finding Arthur to be 'an annoying little prat', I thought Martin Freeman's portrayal was very funny and accurate. Even when Martin changes the 'I never could get the hang of Thursdays' line, it still sounds natural - so natural that I didn't even notice the change until the second screening. Sam Rockwell's performance as the unceasingly presidential Zaphod is a joy to watch. The Vogons and their unflinching bureaucracy is captured perfectly via some new jokes and situations that I'm certainly not going to spoil here - I recommend seeing the movie yourself.

    The design and aesthetics of the Heart of Gold are nothing short of fantastic, in the face of which the natural fan's reaction to observe that the HOG doesn

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @05:35PM (#12195826) Journal

    Not in any specific order but Star Trek has been going to hell and is nothing like what made the original or even the sequel so loved by its fans. I don't exactly know what it is about DS9 or Enterprise that makes me so totally unintrested in them but something is missing from them that made the originals worth watching.

    George Lucas showed with The Phantom Menance that he did not understand what made the original Star Wars so well loved. You can say that new movies are still commercial successes but that is missing something vital. Star Wars: A New Hope has a place in film history, Phantom Menace does not. In 20 yrs time the childeren of today will not give a toss about the new movies. What was missing? Well no Han Solo, no chewbacca, no millenium falcon. Star Wars was a slightly dirty universe with pirates. The prequels are bright shiny places with big palaces.

    We have other beloved "stories" wich "hollywood" just doesn't seem to get. Mario brothers movie. How could it be so wrong. Why do allmost all game movies suck? Why does the new Doom movie take the doom out of the movie?

    Red Dwarf was adapted for the american market and the result was so amazingly bad that even americans realized it. Don't know if this is true but Valva was approached for a Half-life movie but lost intresest when "hollywood" wanted to a add a love interest for Gordon Freeman.

    If the review of the HHGTG movie is accurate then it sounds like a typical case of hollywood just not getting the source material. Some people seem to excuse this in this case by pointing out that you can't do bookstuff in movies since it would be boring. These "americans" don't get that the guide has been a radio play, a book, an album, a computer game, a tv series and a stage play. All of them managed to be very guide like even if they had massive differences in them. The tv series and the stage play especially should proof that it isn't impossible to turn the guide into a movie.

    I think that just as in the previous mentioned examples the people involved in making the movie just didn't get it OR are so convinced of their own capabilities that they think they can improve upon the source material.

    Paramount, fire everyone involved with star trek and hire the writers for the originals series. George Lucas, let the remaining three movies be made by other people. Just do the production. Doom movie crew, doom is on mars with marines and a invasion from hell. That is it.

    Will they listen? Of course not. This is hollywood trying to get "geek" culture.

    And that is the real problem. Hollywood by definition is hip and happening and cool beautifull people being intresting. Star Trek, Star Wars, Doom, computer games, the guide are the domain of nerds. Silicon valley has proven that they can make excellent Star Trek and Star Wars and Hitchhiker guide games. Because game makers are nerds and so understand geek culture. Hollywood will not and cannot get "it".

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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