A Reel View: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

A Reel View
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Ever since the incredible popularity of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Hollywood has been itching to find other literary classics to transform into blockbuster films. This year, Douglas Adams's visionary masterwork "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is up to the challenge.
At one point or another, everyone has a bad day. For Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), the term "bad day" is a gross understatement. After first discovering that his house is to be destroyed in favor of building a freeway, he learns from his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) that Earth is about to suffer the same fate.
Lucky for Arthur, Ford is an alien, doing research on Earth for a travel companion known as "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." For manages to quickly beam his friend and himself off the planet and onto a spaceship operated by the poetry-loving Vogon race. When this proves to be almost as much an inconvenience as if they would have stayed on Earth, Ford and Arthur transfer to another ship: The Heart of Gold, commanded by Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), the president of the Galaxy.
Zaphod (think Captain Jack Sparrow of "Pirates of the Caribbean" if he emulated George W. Bush) is not alone on the ship. Accompanying him are Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), an earthling that Arthur developed a crush on while at a party, and Marvin (voiced by the amazing Alan Rickman), easily the most depressed android to ever grace the silver screen. Together, this band of intergalactic misfits get into all sorts of adventures, including exploring religious services and attempting to discover the truth behind key existential questions.
There is a great amount of plot to deal with when attempting to adapt a beloved book series into film. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is no exception. There is a lot going on in this film, but it all seems secondary when compared to the look of the film. From the puppetry of the Vogons to the beautifully crafted space sequences, director Garth Jennings has created a film that is nearly impossible to turn away from.
Another impressive element of the film is the casting. Martin Freeman ("The Office") is perfect as Arthur, as is (surprisingly enough) hip hop artist Mos Def as Ford Prefect. Sam Rockwell ("The Green Mile") is always entertaining, but the entire cast is overshadowed by Alan Rickman's voiceover work for poor depressed Marvin.
Whether the viewer is a longtime fan of Douglas Adams's work or is a newbie to his world, this film is sure to entertain, as well as be a welcomed change of pace from the BBC series. So sit back, relax, don't panic--and don't forget your towel.
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" will be available on DVD on September 13.

James M. Gullard is a film student at Towson University. Email him your movie thoughts at jgulla1@towson.edu