I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed. Yesterday I watched a movie that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything redeeming about it. It was still worth the ticket price. Alan Rickman’s Marvin was worth at least that much. His delivery of the line "I’ve seen it. It’s rubbish" had comic timing accurate to the femtosecond. Likewise, Stephen Fry’s periodic Guide entries, some of which were animated to great effect, were delivered with the brilliant Englishness that the rest of the movie ufortunately lacked. Both Rickman and Fry were entertaining because they were accurate to the spirit of the Guide. They acheived this by being pretty faithful to the word of the radio series and books.
Some of what was changed for the movie was also good. Small things like the infinite improbability drive and the airlock on the Vogon constructor ship were as they should have been. Sequences had to be shortened and changed to fit into a movie but these bits, and some completely new bits, managed to cling to the spirit and wit of Adams’ Guide.
So what was bad about it? Zaphod. The crumby, thoughtless, uninteresting, uncompelling, tacked-on, badly-paced, ill-conceived love story. Zaphod. The fact that many aspects of the previous incarnations had been included in such a way as to make no sense in the context of the movie. Zaphod. The irritating lack of Englishness throughout. Zaphod.
Zaphod should have been so cool you cood keep a side of meat in him for a month. I don’t know where they got their version from, but it wasn’t from Douglas Adams. Trillian was entirely unlike herself too, but Trillian was never very important before so the movie didn’t miss her the way it missed Zaphod. Ford and Arthur were closer to who they should have been. The complaint that the plot was entirely different from previous versions holds no water, on the grounds that even the books aren’t faithful to the books. But changing the characters so significantly was a mistake, and a big one.
I’m sorry, I think I might have been able to cope better if I hadn’t bruised my arm.