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Film review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Front page of the free booklet given to each member of the audience at
the Hitchhiker's Premiere,
Wednesday 20th April, 2005.

I liked this film; I'm a big fan, a bit of a dork you might say. I can quote lines from the books which I read nearly 20 years ago. This isn't quite the funniest movie of the year, but it is worthwhile and enjoyable. It is, perhaps a bit too much, of a rollicking romp through the galaxy. It also has some catchy music and will put a smile on your face. I give this film a positive 8/10.

Let's get some context here…

There are three types of people who will be seeing this movie.

First, there are the Uninitiated, those who know not what the mind of Douglas Adams is capable of.

Second, there are the Fans and thirdly, there are the Fans.

Yes, I know that the Fans are in two groups, but this is for a reason. The first group, lets call them Fans (a) are really not going to like this movie. The second group, lets call them Fans (b) are going to have a ball and like the Uninitiated, will want to see the film at least once more to pick up on all the stuff they missed the first time.

Fans (a) are going to say that the story line has been changed too much, it has been "Hollywoodified", that Arthur Dent never gets it on with Trillian, that there is no such thing as a Point of View Gun. These are the fans that think they are the biggest fans of all. They are the fans that know absolutely nothing.

Fans (b) know absolutely all they need to know about "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (from now on H2G2). Each incarnation of the story is different. Douglas was always tinkering with his creation. When George Lucas was filming The Empire Strikes Back, Douglas was already showing George how this tinkering should be done. Like George, Douglas doesn't always get it right, but in the main, the updated story is usually better than the last.

This movie is no different. There are new plot threads, there are new gags, there are some old threads untied, retired and turned into knots. Some work, some leave you a little bemused. On the whole, I think that a damn good job has been done to reduce an enormous amount of dialogue into something that allows me as a fan to quote lines before they are said and the Uninitiated to get some idea of what the plot is all about.

So, if you hear somebody say the film isn't as good as the [ ________ ] version (fill in the blank), then tell them they don't know a fetid dingoes kidneys what they are talking about and that they should grow up and enjoy the film for what it is.

Arthur & Ford discussing Vogon spaceships Arthur & Ford suffering Vogon poetry Zaphod & Trillian Marvin, the paranoid android Zaphod (only one head showing ;-) The new look of the Vogons

So, let me tell you about the premiere

Sitting in Empire 4 (otherwise known as The Imperial, a pub right next door to the side exit of the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London), I realised it was too late to change back into normal attire and that I would have to walk into the World Premiere of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" wearing nothing more than a dressing gown, pajamas, a towel and of course, a rubber duck.

It turned out that I was the only "normal" person wearing the obvious outfit for the premiere. The only other exhibitionist was S[____] [I had better not name him ;-)] from Buena Vista International (BVI), those behind this premiere.

After being introduced to the producers and members of the cast, the audience was reminded that we might need the provided towels at a certain point in the movie….

It was astonishing that the majority of the audience had not realised the white toweling over the back of their chairs was a free H2G2 towel. Of course, many of those at the premiere knew not the story of this wonderful tale, but those who did were already holding onto them for dear life as the, quite literally, explosive beginning was upon us…..

A bit about the film (spoiler free)

The curtains raise, the audience cheers, we hear a catchy tune and see a lot of dolphins. After that, the story starts….

…and the rest is galactic cinematic history. This film took years to get to the screen and all those behind it should be congratulated.

It was apparent that the cast had been chosen well, there were a few cameos (ask a geek for the where and when) though I will tell you that the original Marvin from the TV series makes an appearance.

The plot was fast, a bit too fast perhaps, but I was grinning like a maniac at the end and couldn't stop the scenes from the film whirling tough my head as I walked to the Free Masons Hall for the after show party.

After the film, the party

One of the many Vogons at the after film party.

Party goers were greeted by the Red Escape Pod (that had been given a parking ticket) outside the main entrance. Inside, we were greeted by the first of many Vogons. BVI really excelled and showed the top brass from Disney, who were there, that not only can they put on a big premiere, but that they can do it in the United Kingdom.

There were very comfortable white pods (with interactive guide, powered by iMacs. You can download exclusive H2G2 stuff from iTunes BTW ;-) that you could sit in. Apparently each one cost around 20 grand and will be seen at showings all over the country.

There were plasma screens informing party goers where all the different rooms for food, drink (there were several of those), the first aid and various other bits of information and trivia. The dance floor became crowded late into the night with a touching moment of two Vogons boogying down with young relatives of the late Douglas Adams. I now have a very soft spot for Vogons.

Vogons got down & boogied at the after film party

It must be pointed out that one scene (with John Makovich) of H2G2 was filmed in the Great Hall of the Free Masons Lodge and that this was the first time EVER that this had been allowed. Not only that, but it was also the first time a party of this kind had been allowed. Three cheers to the Free Masons and I have to say the building is magnificent.

Parts of the set from The Heart of Gold were incorporated into the VIP areas which anybody could go to. I had a bizarre moment witnessing Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Spaced) dancing along to Adam Ants' "Prince Charming". The stars of the show were there. I bumped into Bill Neighy and Martin Freeman who, incidentally, stayed until the party's bitter end at about 1.30am. There was even a 4ft rubber duck, alluding to the next film perhaps?

Chinese food, and sushi was taken round by waiters in dressings gowns and the Champagne flowed. There was even the odd cocktail that looked remarkably like a Pan galactic Gargle Blaster…..I drank a fair bit.

I retrieved my bags and dressing gown from the coat check at the end of the evening (the Vogon who had been helping out was long since gone, obviously has a good Union) and was given a little goody bag with the second book in the H2G3 trilogy "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". This went nicely with the program and towel and they all fitted nicely into the little bag with the new H2G2 logo.

Conclusion: A good film and a great party. Well done those involved and roll on the sequels; I shall be looking forward to them.

An added bonus, the Premier Program


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