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BBC Reviews Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 537

Posted by Zonk
from the H-H-G-2-disappointment dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Now that the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has made its debut in London, reviews are now beginning to trickle in. The BBC's review can be summed up in one sentence: '... somewhere in the production process the crew has lost sight of the fundamental aspect of the books - they were immensely funny."
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BBC Reviews Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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  • Fun Game! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:39PM (#12304009) Homepage Journal
    Hey, kids! Here's a fun game to play while waiting in line to shell big zorkmids on the latest book series to hit the big screen. Just fill in the name of a book, any book and you get a fairly true statement, summing up and entire movie review!

    [Fill In Book Name Here] is not as bad as I had feared. Then again, it is not as good as I had hoped.

    Choose from:

    • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • Cat in the Hat*
    • Timeline
    • Oracle 8.5 The Complete Reference
    • Jurassic Park
    • I Robot*
    • Minority Report
    • War of the Worlds
    • (Anything based upon a comic book title or character)

    Note: Those marked with an '*' may actually, really and truly, suck.

    Seriously, mixing american actors with british actors and trying to turn something that wasn't very bad as a BBC TV series into a movie would be difficult, especially with the Hollywood penchant for wanting it to end differently than the book so the audience would be surpried and trying to make britishisms translate into equally funny americanisms or vice-a-versa. Imagine the following scenario: (brace thyself) A Hollywood remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail... que horror, eh? Imagine (told you to brace yourself, you sensitive clod!) hip-hop actors, dimbulb comedy actors from sitcoms and the utter flattening of comedic timing to accomodate dumbed down humor. Yeah. Somethings are better left alone. Better to just go see Spamalot.

    I do expect Rickman's dead-pan voice to be perfect for Marvin, but that's about all.

    • Re:Fun Game! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shakezula (842399) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:44PM (#12304052) Homepage
      I fully agree. The "Americanization" of BBC shows is WRONG. Have you seen NBC's version of "The Office"? IT IS TERRIBLE. The timing that made the UK version work so well has been completely dumb'd down for the US populace, just to make a few bucks. Its sad.

      On the other hand, I'd really like to go see "Oracle 8.5 The Complete Reference", especially if it was in Mandarin with subs.
      • by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:05PM (#12304279) Homepage
        "On the other hand, I'd really like to go see "Oracle 8.5 The Complete Reference", especially if it was in Mandarin with subs."

        Scene opens on a hilly vista, bamboo trees in the near foreground, and two men dressed in black face each other.

        Man 1: You killed my triggers and erased my stored procedures. For this, you will die like a dog.

        Man 2: I was seeking my rightful revenge for your destruction of my parent process. Now I will finish the job by applying pressure points to your SQL until it bleeds.

        Man 1, flying through the air: Aaaiii!!!

        • by Rei (128717) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:35PM (#12304635) Homepage
          No, no, no. "Oracle 8.5 The Complete Reference" wouldn't be so simple.

          First off, they'd ignore standard ticket buying procedure; you'd have to purchase your tickets through Ticketmaster, and you'll need a guide to find the right series of buttons to push for your particular phone and calling area in order to get tickets. Of course, if you don't do things right, and sometimes if you do, they'll accidentally send you tickets for the Lion King, and you'll need to start over.

          The real oracle tickets will be made of solid lead and weigh 800 pounds each. Only powerful movie theaters will be capable of exchanging the tickets for you.

          When you finally sit down to watch the movie, you find that you don't know any of the characters, but they'll act like you already know every intimate detail about them. The cinematography is well implemented, but a the expense of a very slow and cryptic plot. The show will have to be closed early because the theater will prove to not be big enough to handle all of the viewers after all.

          You'll leave wishing that you had gone to see "MySQL Cookbook" or "Practical Postgresql", which were both showing at the same theater, and the tickets were free.
      • Re:Fun Game! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Feynman (170746)
        The "Americanization" of BBC shows is WRONG.

        I wouldn't say this is true in general.

        Perhaps I should be posting anonymously, but I, for one, was a big Three's Company fan.

        • Re:Fun Game! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by siriuskase (679431)
          Americanization of British TV shows worked a lot better before Americans had access to the originals. Remember Sanford and Son and Archie Bunker? Adaptations from the UK, and there are others.
      • On the other hand, I'd really like to go see "Oracle 8.5 The Complete Reference", especially if it was in Mandarin with subs.

        Well, that's nothing like the upcoming Slashdot movie.

        *** SPOILER WARNING ***

        The Slashdot movie begins with citing Star Trek, of course with some errors both in pronounciation (to mimic spelling errors) and in content. That is, it begins with:

        "Whitespace, the final frontier. This are the voyages oof the start script Enterprise. It's five-year emission: to explode strange new words

      • Re:Fun Game! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270)
        The "Americanization" of BBC shows is WRONG.

        Case in point: "Whose Line is it Anyway?"

        It's a show that progressively got more and more American comedians, but still remained funny, in large part because the host was a balding British guy. :-) But seriously, it worked because they weren't trying to dumb down the humor for American audiences. The Drew Carey version... still funny, but I only saw about one episode of the new Whose Line that even approached the humor of the original British show.

        • Re:Fun Game! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TiggsPanther (611974)

          I agree with you on that one, and to me it's actually a proof of two things.

          1 - The basic concept was strong enough. (Apparently a tried-and-tested improv formula anyway)
          2 - Something can be less than the original but still actually work.

          It felt like a very different beast in some ways, yet still taken from the same mould in others. And in a way that's possibly the best way to go about such things.

          Having said that, Whose Line did have one major thing going for it. It's real strength wasn't it's Brit

    • Re: not quite true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BitterAndDrunk (799378) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:50PM (#12304101) Homepage Journal
      Fight Club was a phenomenal book that survived the transition to a movie, and then some.
      • Re: not quite true (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) *
        Fight Club was a phenomenal book that survived the transition to a movie, and then some.

        Never read Fight Club. Saw the movie and thought, 'damn, not another "crazy guy" film'. Didn't read Forrest Gump, but my sister's opinion was the film was considerably better. A rarity it seems.

      • by Ced_Ex (789138) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:29PM (#12304551)
        Fight Club was a phenomenal book that survived the transition to a movie, and then some.

        Screw the movie and the book. What I'd really like to see is a Fight Club made up of members of Slashdot.

        It would be no surprise to me to see guys bring Light Sabres and those Klingon BetleHs.

        To sum up. "Pure Awesomeness!"
      • Re: not quite true (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flyingsquid (813711)
        Also, Blade Runner. Maltese Falcon was pretty damn good- as much a movie classic as the book was a literary one. The ending isn't quite as cynical as in the novel, but then the movie has Bogey, Peter Lorre, and that classic "stuff that dreams are made of" line. And let's not forget The Princess Bride.

        Maybe the moral is that just converting a great book to a movie isn't enough to have a great movie: you still have to have a good director, good casting, and a good screenwriter. (In the case of Princess Bride

    • by mooingyak (720677) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:52PM (#12304131)
      I think you need to put a '*' next to the Oracle manual too.
    • Okay, it's pet peeve time: it is vice versa, not vice-a-versa.
    • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:58PM (#12304201) Journal
      At least the Unix version of "Oracle 8.5" is true to the book.

      I've moved onto the sequel, "Oracle 9i, The Wrath of Larry Ellison" myself.
    • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:59PM (#12304207)
      I, Robot didn't suck. It just had absolutly nothing to do with the book. I bet your opinion of it would be a lot higher if they had stuck with the original title, "Hardwired".
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:43PM (#12304713) Homepage Journal
        I, Robot didn't suck. It just had absolutly nothing to do with the book. I bet your opinion of it would be a lot higher if they had stuck with the original title, "Hardwired".

        Yes, our opinion would be different if they had refrained from RAPING ASIMOV'S CORPSE!

        Then again, I haven't seen it, because of what Will Smith said on Leno: "It's very faithfull to the book [...] My character is the only man on earth who doesn't trust robots, everyone else does..."
        Yeah, that is the exact opposite of the book, jackass.

        Asimov's estate should sue them for diffamation... if they weren't busy swimming in their giant cash-filled swimming pools from all the horrible crap they've sold labelled as "Asimov's ...", that is.
        • by guet (525509) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:08PM (#12304971)
          diffamation - is that where you take something famous and change it?

          I swear you could invent a new language from the typos on Slashdot.
          • diffamation - is that where you take something famous and change it?
            I swear you could invent a new language from the typos on Slashdot.


            Yeah: French [google.ca].

            I speak more than one language, and my typing sucks in all of them : )
        • by abb3w (696381) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:44PM (#12306361) Journal
          I, Robot didn't suck. It just had absolutly nothing to do with the book. I bet your opinion of it would be a lot higher if they had stuck with the original title, "Hardwired".

          Yes, our opinion would be different if they had refrained from RAPING ASIMOV'S CORPSE!

          That's going a little too far. While I'd agree the movie is a travesty demonstrating that Hollywood is hard pressed to produce even one new idea in almost a hundred years [imdb.com], some of the dangers the movie obsessed over were at least hinted at in Asimov's works. That there is some gold dust sprinkled on, however, does not change that what you have stepped in is primarily a turd. If they had left the original "Hardwired" title in, and yanked the attempts to exploit Asimov's name, it would merely be bad; if such had been offered on DVD free with a box of cereal, I'd have bought the box provided I wasn't allergic to the cereal. (Five brand name candidates, last I counted.)

          As is... I took different measures.

          Then again, I haven't seen it

          Given my respect for film, I didn't want to trash the movie without seeing it. On the other hand, if it was as bad as reported, I didn't want any of my money going anywhere near the people responsible. So when the DVD came out, for my first and only time for a Hollywood release, I downloaded BitTorrent, found a pirate torrent, and tied up my DSL for two days. If it was any good, I would have bought it. After watching it, I deleted it. I have better uses for the 5GB of storage.

          Having seen it, the only reason I feel that the time spent watching it was not completely wasted is that I can say with a clear concience: It is a Piece of Crap; Someone Please Buy Harlan Ellison The Movie Rights.

          The HHGTTG movie sounds bad, but not that bad. I might catch a matinee... but I'll bring a towel to wrap around my head, just in case it's worse than I expect.

    • [Fill In Book Name Here] is not as bad as I had feared. Then again, it is not as good as I had hoped.

      Truth is, if you care enough about a book to "fear" its cinematization, you care too much about it to enjoy the movie. That said, the Douglas Adams books have the same issue that affects Bridget Jones' Diary, Snow Crash, Vanity Fair and other books that made underwhelming/canceled movie projects: the best part of them is the language and style of the narrative, and it's hugely difficult to get that across i

    • I Robot (Score:3, Insightful)

      by waterford0069 (580760)
      I think you are wrong about "I Robot". I've been a fan of Asimov's novels for more than 20 years.

      The movie wasn't a retelling of the book, but you'd be nuts to try it. The book is a string of disjoint short stories. The same characters keep poping up, but they are complete stories unto themselves. You could perhaps make a mini-series out of them, but I don't think the majority of the American public would GET IT.

      The movie it self though was very true to Asimov's theme, which was basically "Given these t

  • by Jhon (241832) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:40PM (#12304015) Homepage Journal
    Hitchhiker fans will know what is happening, but newcomers will be left scratching their heads at a story that flits from one unpronounceable planet to another - each one populated by equally exotic-sounding characters.
    If this is the critic's biggest problem, I'm 'ok' with that. Besides, there were things in the book not in the BBC TV series -- or things on BBC Radio that weren't in either the book or the TV series. I realize you can't sqeeze everything (even those few 2 or 3 word chapters DNA liked to use) in to a 2 hour movie. I never expected it.
    • by Golias (176380) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:46PM (#12304073)
      Well, he also called it a "mess."

      Personally, I plan on seeing it, but I also plan on going out of my way to read every last negative review and whiny Aint-It-Cool-News tirade which warns of how bad it is before seeing it.

      The more I lower my expectations going in, the better the chances that I might extract a little pleasure out of watching what is bound to be a very flawed adaptation of my absolute favorite childhood novel.
      • Kind of a negative reenforcement? Eh, doesn't matter to me. I couldn't care less what critics say. I enjoy a movie for what it is, or hate it for what it is. I don't need a critic for that. (Though I wish I had had one before watching Matrix Reloaded...oy!)
    • If this is the critic's biggest problem, I'm 'ok' with that. Besides, there were things in the book not in the BBC TV series -- or things on BBC Radio that weren't in either the book or the TV series. I realize you can't sqeeze everything (even those few 2 or 3 word chapters DNA liked to use) in to a 2 hour movie. I never expected it.

      You know the thing that made the books so snappy ... it was that compared to Arthur, Ford was an absolute nut. Zaphod was bombastic. Marvin was quite possibly a sorrier cha

      • by Golias (176380) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:06PM (#12304282)
        compared to Arthur, Ford was an absolute nut.

        Do you know what my favorite moment in the story is?

        When Arther Dent, stuck on past Earth, announces that he has decided to go mad.

        Ford suddenly appears and agrees that it's a good idea.

        What I like about that moment is that I didn't really care for anything which came after it. Don't get me wrong, the prose was still very funny, but all this stuff of Aurther learning to fly, a planet-wise parody of what a boring sport cricket is, the truck-driving rain god, and the destruction of all possible alternate realities... It just wasn't up to snuff with the book material spawned from the original radio plays.

        So, I have decided the following:

        Arthur really did go mad at that moment. Ford never showed up. Arthur never learned to fly. Mattress creatures did not flollop. The reincarnated plant did not seek out revenge against Arthur. None of it happened. It was all just the delusions of Arthur's madness.

        Looking at the final three and a half books of the trilogy in this light makes them much more enjoyable for me, especially since it discards the "Goddammit! I'm not writing a sixth book ever! Fuck all you drooling fanboys who will demand that my publisher lean on me to write more!" fatalistic ending. YMMV.

        For that matter, one could take this premise and craft a fairly amusing fan-fic which picks up just as Arthur recovers his sanity, still stuck among the cave men.
  • by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:40PM (#12304016) Journal
    Unless the cover says "Don't Panic."
  • perspective. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The "immensely funny" thing is curious. To be honest, completely honest... I didnt find douglas adams' work to be all that genuinely funny

    Interesting to read, and written with an easy style that said "come back and read more!" sure, but not funny.

    Not to me, personally, and not speaking for anyone else.
    • Re:perspective. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bobvanvliet (569014) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:52PM (#12304133)
      Well, I think I on the other hand, speak for many when I say this is the only series of books that had me laughing so hard I had to put down the book for a second.

      Maybe you're just not a fan of british humour (IANA Englisman)?
    • Not to me, personally, and not speaking for anyone else.

      Indeed, when it comes to humor, everyone is different. I have a pretty strange sense of humor.

      I was recently reading the H2G2 books in bed before I went to sleep each night and was garnering complaints from my wife because my laughing and/or wanting to share bits with her were keeping her awake.

    • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:25PM (#12304506) Homepage Journal
      The "immensely funny" thing is curious. To be honest, completely honest... I didnt find douglas adams' work to be all that genuinely funny

      I see your point. The first couple times I thought the H2G2 books (the first 3 anyway) were quite funny. The 4th was thought provoking and the 5th quite a bummer.

      I did find, 10 years after reading the first three that I found them to be more cynical than I recalled, with some fairly biting sarcasm embodied by certain characters and actions I didn't really see before. Eventually I believed it was funny while taking aim at a lot of things Douglas Adams probably found frustration with, like satire. There certainly are some very visible satirical references, but it seemed to me that like much humor there is often a target which is true, though by not being familiar with it we don't get all of the joke.

    • Re:perspective. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gudlyf (544445) <.gudlyf. .at. .realistek.com.> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:40PM (#12304684) Homepage Journal
      I read the first book of the series back I dunno, 15+ years ago when I was in high school. I got interested in the book from playing the game actually, as I found it to be funny. I remember not really caring for the book so much, though. I didn't "get" the humor.

      Jump ahead to just a few months ago, where I picked up the audiobooks of the first [amazon.com] and second [amazon.com] books in the series, unabridged and both read by Douglas Adams himself. There's just something about the way Adams reads his own work that made it so much funnier. Then again, maybe it's because I don't have an imagination and/or hate the sound of my own voice when I read the paper books, even if it is only in my head.

    • The "immensely funny" thing is curious. To be honest, completely honest... I didnt find douglas adams' work to be all that genuinely funny
      Interesting to read, and written with an easy style that said "come back and read more!" sure, but not funny.
      Not to me, personally, and not speaking for anyone else.


      Awww, you're just grumpy because no one replaced the diodes down your left side yet...
  • by bhsx (458600) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:41PM (#12304032)
    Where's the torrent? ;)
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:41PM (#12304036) Homepage
    Panic.
  • It sucks. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:42PM (#12304040)

    I think you all ought to know that I'm very depressed.
  • by EvilStein (414640) <(spam) (at) (pbp.net)> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:42PM (#12304042) Homepage
    I absolutely HATED "Napoleon Dynamite." I laughed ONCE during the entire movie. Yet, the reviews were raving about it. Then we had the recent article about the guy that's spent like 20 years studying Douglas Adams and his books/etc, and he hated the movie. Other reviews of this movie said it was clever & funny. Now the BBC says that there were just a few chuckles.

    Generally, I think that humour is in the eye of the beholder. I never think that Penny Arcade comics are funny, but often still laugh at User Friendly.

    Bottom line: The movie probably doesn't suck that bad at all, but the "The book was better" fanatics are going to jump all over it.
    • I absolutely HATED "Napoleon Dynamite."
      I never think that Penny Arcade comics are funny

      Thank goodness I'm not the only one!

    • Napoleon Dynamite is, I think, a very generational movie. If you grew up as a "child of the 80's", and were part of a specific sub-culture (the geek/dork/outsider), you can look at this movie and laugh your ass off because you see how true to life a lot of it is. If you weren't in those circles, then it is hard to see how the movie is funny.

      I myself was part of that culture, and now as a successful adult I can look back and recall all those childhood memories this movie brings up. The aweful clothing, the
    • I never think that Penny Arcade comics are funny, but often still laugh at User Friendly.

      This pretty much renders your opinions on comedy invalid, doesn't it?

      Go ahead -- mod me 'Troll' for speaking the truth! The world will remember me!

    • by FirstNoel (113932) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:28PM (#12304539) Journal
      I found it bizarre to watch the first time. But now for some odd reason I remember parts of it, and it seems funnier now.

      Lines like:

      "Pedro offers his protection", or "You gonna eat those tots?", while on there own don't sound funny, it the right context with people who know the reference can be fairly entertaining.

      I'd say Napoleon is funnier after you've see it, not while you're actually watching it.

      I still liked it better than "Friends", ugh, I'm glad that's over.

      Sean D.
  • Funny? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pholower (739868) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <liartdoowgnol>> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:43PM (#12304049) Homepage Journal
    The article said...

    Did the script veer too far away from the source material or tie itself in knots trying to keep faith with it?
    Bizarrely, I think the answer is both.

    Funny, I was almost certain it was 42

  • by BorgDrone (64343)
    While I haven't seen it yet, I'm kind of disappointed they only made one movie, there's enough material for more. Imho they should have announced it to be a trilogy (and then actually release 5 movies, one for each book).
    • Good idea... But considering how hard it was for Peter Jackson to get Lord of the Rings made as a trilogy, it will probably never happen. At least not in Hollywood. :)

      A mini-series is the best bet.
  • by Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:49PM (#12304100) Journal
    The Sci-Fi Channel can remake it as a mini-series with a couple well known American actors and a bunch of unknown actors at a studio in Eastern Europe, with funny costumes, but a decent plot. :)
    • I have thought since before the movie was announced that it needed to be made as a SciFi mini-series. You just can't make real sense of it all, without all of it. A single movie will just not be enough.
      And I am really interested in how the books intro will fit into the movie. I mean they do have to explain to those new to the genre how to get the hell off the planet, right?
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:50PM (#12304103)
    The previews of the movie don't look good for use Adams fans. They seem to emphasize special effects and the bustle of the books, but give no evidence of the deep humor and insane and yet insanely self-consistent universe that Adams created. Rather than create Adams' mind-boggling humor (which is harder), they seem to have created the usual array of eye-boggling visuals.

    I hope the actual movie is better than the previews.
  • sick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zerkon (838861) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:52PM (#12304128)
    I'm sick of all the FUD floating around... i'm officially not reading anymore /. articles i'm just going to go see the thing for myself... hope it doesn't suck
  • by ender- (42944) <doubletwistNO@SPAMfearthepenguin.net> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:53PM (#12304146) Homepage Journal
    While Dent is a familiar cipher, audiences will be left clueless by Ford Prefect, bemused by Zaphod Beeblebrox and indifferent to Trillian.

    Personally, in reading the books, I've always been left feeling quite indifferent to Trillian. Almost like she's a background character with little to no importance. So it sounds like they at least got that right.

    Ender-
  • I'm in the minority that didn't think the Hitchhiker series was funny. Some bits were amusing but most of it was a series of bad jokes falling flat...or perhaps too British for me. Although I loved everything Monty Python so I'm not sure that's a factor.

    Can't say I thought the movie would be any better, so I'm not terribly disappointed by the bad review. It isn't "The Holy Grail", after all.

    Max
  • by Kyrene (624175) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:58PM (#12304200)
    Entry for new movie updated from: "Harmless" to: "Mostly harmless"
  • From TFA

    Did the script veer too far away from the source
    material or tie itself in knots trying to keep
    faith with it?

    Bizarrely, I think the answer is both.

    Wow, it's like Dune all over again. Gotta wonder
    why sci-fi is so hard to get right. Maybe this
    phenomena is not unique to the genre?
  • by Undergrid (21142) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:01PM (#12304231) Homepage
    ..unlike the books.
  • by meanfriend (704312) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:10PM (#12304326)
    I've always been skeptical about using HHG2TG as a foundation of a movie. The enjoyment in the books isnt so much in the plot, but the writing and delivery. Personally, I love how Adams goes off track on diatribes that have nothing to do with the plot but make for some fun reading.

    An example from the famous babelfish passage:

    Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

    The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

    `But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

    `Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.

    `Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

    How the heck are you supposed to film that and keep some semblance of flow to the story? You could do it as a voiceover I suppose, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot yet passages like this are a defining feature of an Adams book. I'll be interested to see if they attempted to put passages like this in the movie and if they can pull it off.

    Compare with LOTR, or Harry Potter, or any Michael Crichton novel, which are more plot driven works and thus can translate to a visual medium like movies and still capture the spirit of the original text much better. At least IMHO

    Still, I'm intent on seeing the movie and hope it retains some of the classic Adams humour...

    • Watch the BBC TV Version, they manage to do a great job of that very thing *including the passage you mention*
    • by AJWM (19027) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:27PM (#12305178) Homepage
      You do it exactly as was done in the miniseries: Ford tells Arthur to look up "babelfish" in the Guide, and we cut do the animation plus voice-over of the Guide's entry. (The book and the radio program also treat this as a Guide excerpt, but I don't recall if they segue this by having Ford tell Arther to look it up.)

      The accompanying cheezy "computer graphic" animation adds an element of humor and keeps the voice over from being too heavy-handed.

      The problem you do run into is length. Most books -- especially these days with the customer demand for thicker books for the buck -- are far too long to squeeze everything into a two-hour movie. (The rule of thumb for screenplays is that each page of the screenplay translates to a minute of film time. That rule doesn't necessarily hold for a book because of differences in writing style (description vs dialog, etc).

      Michael Chrichton, of course, has written both books and screenplays, and directed movies (eg "Westworld"), so knows intimately how to write a book that will translate to a movie -- but large chunks of his books get left out of the movie version anyway. Marshall McLuhan may not have been absolutely right ("the medium is the message"), but he certainly raised a valid point about how the medium affects the message (content).
  • by Traa (158207) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:10PM (#12304327) Homepage Journal
    I tried to read the article but both my sunglasses turned completely black!!
  • by naoursla (99850) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:16PM (#12304387) Homepage Journal
    The Hollywood Spectaculomatic will automatically analyze any for for content, theme, humor, plot, sub-plot, charactizations, social commentary, cultural reference, and political ramifications; cross analyze the results against a target demographics intellectual, visceral, and spiritual entertainment needs and produce a movie that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the original book. Buy yours today!
  • by MortisUmbra (569191) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:33PM (#12304600)
    ...for everytime negative reviews came out for a movie I ended up loving....I won't be sitting here at work surfing the internet right now....
  • by superultra (670002) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:00PM (#12304876) Homepage
    "Don't panic!"
    "Crammed full of witty erudition!"
    "A . . . comedic romp!"
    "Sam Rockwell does a great turn as Zaphod Beeblebrox!"
    ". . .immensely funny!"
    "Outstanding production design and some fantastic visual effects!"
    "Charming!"
  • by Absentminded-Artist (560582) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:06PM (#12304953) Homepage
    After reading the article I'm not certain of what point the reviewer was trying to make. He is both glowing and critical of the same things. I wouldn't put too much weight on his comments because of this. Here's an example:

    Sam Rockwell does a great turn as Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed president of the galaxy; Mos Def is passable as Ford Prefect; while Zooey Deschanel is beguiling as Trillian

    Then a few paragraphs down we get this:

    Did I say characters? Hmmm. While Dent is a familiar cipher, audiences will be left clueless by Ford Prefect, bemused by Zaphod Beeblebrox and indifferent to Trillian.

    Indifferent to Trillian? I thought the actress playing her was "beguiling"!?! How can an actress potray a character in a beguiling way that leaves the audience indifferent? That's almost as funny as some of Adams' turns of speech. :)

    In brief, the reviewer liked the movie, but didn't like all of it. In fact, he called it a "charming mess". Having been a fan of Adams' work for over twenty years I had always been under the impression the same could be said of the books. And even Adams' own later sequels lacked the punchy humor and wit of the originals. It is hard to make lightening strike twice.

    I recently downloaded the BBC's HG2G TV adaptation. Although some parts are brilliant, many parts drag and are truly awful. Translating Adams' writing style into a visual medium is bound to be difficult. Even the British couldn't get it all right.

  • by PaulCamelHump (736155) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:20PM (#12305111)
    ...instead of just something difficult to translate to a movie. Did the creators of this movie read the books, listen to the radioshows, or even watch the BBC TV versions? In all 3 the book was a character, it had it's own voice, it's own dialogue and was some of the funniest shit I have ever read, heard and seen. Much like in LOTR, Peter Jackson nearly made the ring a character and the ring did not have much to say. The Book in HHGTTG has tons to say.
  • by CashCarSTAR (548853) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:19PM (#12306898)
    I'll put it short and sweet. To expect the HHGG we know and love. Actually. Just fuhgit about it...at least on the big screen. Why? Two reasons.

    #1. Most of the best humor just wouldn't work in a movie format. Why? To do it well you'd need an absurd amount of time, and as well, the story would start to drag on. Really.

    Now, from what I'm hearing, they're filming a TON of material for the DVD version. Meaning that all the stuff that didn't make it into the theatrical cut, may very well make it into an actual "Guide" cut, with all those little asides that make the book.

    A DVD package with "Don't Panic" on the cover and given the LotR extended edition treatment? Oh yes.

    #2. Like it or not, he's just not the same guy he was when he wrote the book. Hell, he wasn't the same guy when he wrote the sequals. And one thing that DNA wanted, was to update HHGG..the philosophy and feeling behind it, to get it out of his past and move it into the present. And because of that, after he died, when the production team had a doubt about the tone of any of the material, they looked up his latter stuff. To see how it would go, and work.

    Maybe that's the ultimate problem. The true fans wanted the classic, but that's just not going to happen.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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