Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Neddie Reviews Movies He Hasn't Seen Yet

My psychic powers are just scary-good.

My ability to predict the stock market has allowed me to retire a billionaire many times over and pursue a leisurely life of insouciantly shooting my mouth off on the Internet. I know the date and time of the death of every one of you -- including myself -- down to the minute. That's why I'm sometimes not such good company. It makes me sad knowing that you -- yes you -- are going to die riiiiiight now -- Look out! DUCK!!! Oooooh. Ouch! Bet that smarted!

So that's how I know that the Touchstone Pictures release of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, starring The Office's Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, is going to, as they say in in the snugs of the West End -- and I really hate saying it, because I was really rooting for this movie -- totally blow dead bear.

Well, let's amend that. To a fan of Douglas Adams' writing, this movie will blow dead bear. Sci-fi movie fans might or might not like it, I don't know. I'm not a major fan of the genre, and the whole space-opera thing leaves me pretty cold. (Next up for Psychic Review: Star Wars Episode Three...) But I am a twitching, grimacing, bedwetting fanboy of Douglas Adams' narrative style, and that is, the Jingo Crystal Ball says, exactly the thing that will be completely lost in this flick. Sure, we'll get jokes, there will be some laffs -- but as sure as the night follows the day they won't be Douglas Adams' jokes.

I liked the books because Adams could suddenly, out of nowhere, smack you in the face with startling, absurd imagery: "the Vogon ships hung in the air in exactly the same way that bricks don't," or Arthur Dent's mind filled with muddled thoughts "like supertankers doing k-turns in the English Channel." By all accounts Adams was fanatically careful about dialogue, honing it and polishing it to the point of mania -- and you know what Hollywood typically likes to do to carefully honed dialogue.

As I say, there will probably be laffs. But how in the name of Life, the Universe and Everything can you film something like this?
The problem is, or rather one of the problems, for there are many, a sizable number of which are continually clogging up the civil, commercial, and criminal courts in all areas of the Galaxy, and especially, where possible, the more corrupt ones, this. The previous sentence makes sense. That is not the problem. This is: Change. Read it through again and you'll get it.
Dear me... I think I did know about this little thing, but I'd completely forgotten about it: Richard Dawkins' Eulogy for Douglas Adams.


Lance Mannion said...

Ned, I don't have high hopes for the movie either. Sam Rockwell seems all wrong for Zaphrod and Martin Freeman even more wrong for Arthur Dent. Arthur is supposed to be a proper young English twit, and Freeman looks like a run of the mill American nebbish---I won't believe him for a moment when he says he's longing for a cup of tea.

They've given Marvin Alan Rickman's voice, which is perfect, but then they've made him look like an encephalitic Caspar the Friendly Ghost.

And I find it very strange that though Zoey Deschanel is playing Trillian I haven't yet seen a trailer that features her even for a moment, which makes me wonder just how small a part they've made her.

But then, don't forget, HHGG started out as a radio show not a book and it's dialogue driven. And the Book is a character (voiced by Stephen Fry, also perfect) which is how all the narration can get in.

So maybe, just maybe it won't be all that bad.

Or maybe it will be like two hours of forced listening to Volgon poetry.

Anonymous said...

"I know the date and time of the death of every one of you -- including myself -- down to the minute."

Oh, you read that short story, too. Wish I could remember the name of it.

Anyway, I 'spect the movie to be 10% of the TV version, which was 20% of the radio original. In other words, it won't be much, but I never expected it to be much. If at all.

Hell, from the previews, it looks like even Marvin is wrong (isn't he supposed to sort of 'loom' over the human actors? -- how can a 4' tall 'cute' robot 'loom?' I ask you). They needed a Dart Vader-sized depressive-personality robot, and they cast Yoda in the role.

Anyway, it can't be 'wronger' than Starship Troopers or I, Robot, in terms of fitting the original accurately.


XTCfan said...

A quote from Adams, courtesy of Dawkins' piece:

"I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."

Can't do much better than that, can you?