Plot: What’s it about?
Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) leads a normal life. But even dull, mild mannered existence could soon be wiped out. This is because the planet on which he lives is soon to be destroyed. Not by nuclear war or as part of some alien invasion. No, his planet is about to be demolished in order to clear a path for a new hyperspace express route. In order to offer a faster, more efficient venue of travel, Arthur and everyone else on his planet will be extinct in the blink of an eye. But Arthur is spared such a horrific fate, thanks to his friend Ford (Mos Def), who turns out to have been an alien himself. This is news to Arthur, who never suspected such a turn of events, but at least he is alive. But this is just the start of an outlandish adventure, as Arthur and Ford travel all across the galaxy and get into all kinds of trouble. As he searches for answers, Arthur bumps into all kinds of characters, good and bad, but do any of them have the answers he seeks?
I had doubts about this one, as Hollywood isn’t often faithful with great sources, but I also knew The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could be an awesome movie. I was disappointed by most of the cast decisions, but since Douglas Adams co-wrote the screenplay, I was still a tad optimistic. In the end, I found this new version to be decent, but not as good as it could have been. I think audiences, even those who didn’t know the source work, were also a little let down. After a huge opening weekend of around $21,000,000, the film spiraled down the charts and wound up with around $51,000,000. If what I’ve read about the budget is correct, the movie broke even, or pretty close to that. I guess I just expected too much, given the brilliant source material involved. The cast is passable, but a few people really miss the mark, as if they didn’t research their characters. Even with the flaws however, this is a decent and enjoyable movie. So if you’re home on the weekend and want a brisk, humorous movie, you could do a lot worse that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Video: How does it look?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Another great looking transfer from Touchstone, who is always reliable for their visual presentations. This one shows no serious flaws I could detect, as the image is clean and sharp at all times, just gorgeous to look at. The colors are vivid and bold, no signs of errors there and the flesh tones seem natural as well. No issues in terms of contrast either, as detail is strong and black levels are razor sharp, excellent work all around here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is a real gem, lots of surround use and a myriad of directional usage, very impressive indeed. But the DTS option takes things up a notch, so it does offer the superior sound experience. I was very pleased with this track, as it places you right in the midst of it all, a very immersive experience from start to finish. Whether the effects are loud and booming or more subtle, this track handles them well and ensures they’re placed just right within the mix. One of the better mixes I’ve heard of late, this one doesn’t disappoint in terms of musical score or dialogue either, as both elements are well mixed and presented with no flaws in the least. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can sample not one, but two audio commentary tracks here, the first of which involves director Garth Jennings, producer Nick Goldsmith, and stars Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy. This is a decent track, but has a lot of the usual commentary woes. Too much time is spent praising performances and narrating on screen action, which can become quite tiresome. The second track is more focused and technical in nature, as producer Robbie Stamp is joined by one of Douglas Adam’s colleagues, Sean Solle. These two don’t try to talk the entire time, but when they do speak, it is worthwhile. This disc also includes a brief promotional featurette, some deleted scenes, and additional guide entries.