Sunday, May 08, 2005

Reclaiming My Fiefdom in Geekdom

Last night Miss L and I went to the Mega-Google-Plex theatre near the MCI Center to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a wacky movie based on the even wackier novel and radio dramas by Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker's series persists as one of the great guilty pleasures of my reading over the last 15 years or so. I even had the all-text based computer game on my old Apple IIC. From the opening scene of dolphins leaving the earth (I'm still singing their theme song) to Arthur's decision to stay a spaceman, I enjoyed my little retreat back into my former geekiness.

Okay, maybe not former. I'm still pretty geeky when you get down to it.

Most fans of the series should be happy; it's pretty true to the book, due in no small part, I'm sure, to the director using the script Adams himself wrote.

I was a little concerned that a film version would not have all the bizarre narrative asides, but a number of them stayed by way of journal entries in the computerized Guide. I still missed tidbits like point-of-view shifts to the automatic doors, but it was more than enough for a movie to showcase the wit and wonder of Adams. It was also used to describe some of the more bizarre "scientific" ideas of the book, like the improbability drive and the terrors of Vogon poetry. Although dubbed narratives often annoy me in films, it worked well for this one. And, in way, showed a bit of the Monty Python influence that's so strong in everything Adams wrote.

Visually, it's quite a stunning movie. Bold, bright colors, lots of wide-screen action. A number of the aliens were done by the Jim Henson studios, and come off pretty freaky in a cartoony kind of manner. Unfortunately, the major visual surprises --like John Malkovitch strutting aound on mechanial insect legs, the spherical ship known as The Heart of Gold turning into balls of yarn, and the workshop that builds custom-designed planets and star systems--are all given away in the trailers. Even still, it's quite a feast for the eyes and I can't remember an even halfway decent s/f comedy since Spaceballs.

Unsuprisingly, they set up for a sequel. Everyone cries for snacks after the adventures are over, and they make way for the restaraunt at the end of the universe. Coincidentally, the title for the 2nd book of the series. Personally, I can't wait for the 4th book in the trilogy (yes, you read that right). That book features an immortal alien whose sole purpose in life it to insult every sentient being in existence.

Hope everyone who can is out enjoying the spring weather.


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