Dull hike in space.
Dedicated to the memory of its creator, Douglas Adams, who shares a screenwriting credit with Karey Kirkpatrick, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is an energetic tribute to the great man and his zany imagination.
Unfortunately, for all its visual invention and occasional strokes of genius, Garth Jenning's film is rather muddled and, fittingly perhaps, scatter-brained.
Many of Adams' flights of fantasy are crammed into the 108-minute intergalactic flight time but at the expense of coherence and fluidity.
Arthur Dent (Freeman) makes a startling discovery: Planet Earth is about to be vaporised by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
Beaming on to a passing spacecraft with his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), who turns out to be an alien in cognito, Arthur eventually finds himself in the company of the president of the galactic government Zaphod Beeblebrox (Rockwell), a paranoid android called Marvin (voiced by Rickman), and the only other human survivor Trillian (Deschanel).
Aboard Zaphod's state-of-the-art spaceship, the Heart of Gold, the hapless adventurers embark on a journey of a lifetime, encountering a menagerie of strange beings.
En route, Arthur discovers a towel might just be the most useful item in the universe and that if he ever gets stuck, he can always refer to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (voiced by Fry).
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy begins promisingly with a dolphin song and dance number that perfectly captures Adams's irreverent sense of humour.
Special effects are impressive throughout. The Guide is now a smart computer laptop complete with cutesy graphics and Fry performs pitch perfect commentary - and there are some great set pieces like the surreal sight of a giant sperm whale (Bailey) falling through the air to its doom.
Freeman exerts an undeniable charm and innocence as Arthur.
Mos Def is also sporadically amusing as Ford Prefect, Deschanel makes something out of her nothing supporting role and Marvin is adorable.
Unfortunately, from the moment Rockwell gallops on to the screen, with the swagger and shiny couture of a faded rock star, the film never achieves light speed.
Two heads are not, as the saying goes, better than one.
SWEARING; NO SEX; VIOLENCE
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Apr 29, 2005|
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