Archive for Vogons

Revisited: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

One Thursday morning, Arthur Dent discovers that his house is to be immediately demolished to make way for a bypass. He tries delaying the bulldozers by lying down in front of them. Ford Prefect, a friend of Arthur’s, convinces him to go to the pub with him. Over a pint of beer (as “muscle relaxant”), Ford explains that he is an alien from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and a journalist working on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a universal guide book, and that the Earth is to be demolished later that day by a race called Vogons, to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Suddenly, a Vogon Constructor Fleet appears in the sky and destroys the planet. Ford saves himself and Arthur by hitching a ride on a Vogon ship. The two are found and forced to listen to poetry. They are then thrown out of an airlock, but are picked up by the starship Heart of Gold. They find Ford’s “semi-half brother” Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy. He has stolen the ship along with Tricia “Trillian” McMillan, an Earth woman whom Arthur had met previously, and Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Zaphod explains that he is seeking the planet Magrathea, where he believes he can discover the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything to match with the answer “42” given by the supercomputer Deep Thought. Zaphod stole the Heart of Gold to use its improbability drive to get to Magrathea through trial and error.

During one of these attempts, they end up on the planet Viltvodle VI. Zaphod decides to visit Humma Kavula, his opponent from the election. Upon learning of Zaphod’s plan, Kavula announces that he has the coordinates to Magrathea. He takes one of Zaphod’s two heads hostage and demands they bring him the Point-of-view gun created by Deep Thought, which allows the target to understand the shooter’s point of view. As they are leaving the planet, Trillian is captured by Vogons. The others travel to rescue her from the Vogon home world bureaucracy, facing long lines and frustrating form processing. Trillian is outraged to learn that Zaphod signed the authorisation for the destruction of Earth thinking it was a request for an autograph.

The Heart of Gold is chased by the Vogons, led by Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok, who is attempting to rescue Zaphod from himself. As the Heart of Gold arrives in orbit above Magrathea, Arthur triggers the improbability drive to avoid the automated missile defence systems. The missiles transform into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale.

On the planet, Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian take a portal to Deep Thought. When they ask the computer whether it has calculated the ultimate question, it reveals that it designed another supercomputer to do so—Earth. When the trio finds the Point-of-View gun, Trillian shoots Zaphod, making him understand how she feels about the destruction of Earth. She also finds out how much she loves Arthur. Arthur and Marvin miss the portal and encounter a Magrathean called Slartibartfast, who takes Arthur on a tour of the construction floor where Earth Mark II is being built. Slartibartfast takes Arthur home, where the others are enjoying a feast provided by pan-dimensional beings who resemble a pair of mice. Arthur realises he has fallen into a trap. The mice, who constructed Deep Thought, used the supercomputer to build an even larger supercomputer, the planet Earth, to determine the Ultimate Question. Believing Arthur, the last remaining supercomputer component, may hold the Ultimate Answer, the mice attempt to remove his brain. Arthur kills the mice.

As the crew regroup outside the house they are surrounded by Vogons and take shelter in a caravan as the Vogons open fire. Marvin is left outside and shot in the back of the head, and uses the Point-of-View gun on the Vogons, causing them to become depressed and unable to fight. As the Vogons are taken away and Questular rejoins with Zaphod, Arthur chooses to explore the galaxy with Trillian and lets Slartibartfast finalise the new Earth without him. The Heart of Gold crew decide to visit the Restaurant at the End of the Universe while Marvin points out they are going the wrong way.

REVIEW:

Everyone has those movies that they can watch over and over again, no matter what mood they are in or how good or bad the film is. One of these films for me is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I loved the book and the film, while a bit of a departure from the source is ranked among my all time favorites. Will it be one of yours?

What is this about?

After learning his house is about to be leveled to make way for a bypass and that Earth is about to be destroyed to clear the way for an interstellar thruway, jinxed Arthur Dent survives by hitching a ride on a passing spacecraft.

What did I like?

Zooey. I believe this is the film where I fell in love with Zooey Deschanel, or maybe it was Elf. I’m not 100% sure, but at any rate she has always been a cutie in my book. This character she plays, Trillian, is a bit more grounded and serious than we are used to seeing from the quirky and free-spirited Deschanel, and yet she makes her a likable character who may actually be the deepest character in the film.

Guide. For those that haven’t read the book, fret not because the guide, voiced by Stephen Fry, is read to you in animated vignettes and voice overs. The very first time I saw this film, I had not read the book and the voice-overs not only helped me keep up with everything, but also inspired me to go read the book. I’m sure that I’m not the only person to have that urge, nor will I be the last to have the inkling.

Devices. Any fantastical sci-fi film is sure to have great gadgets and devices, right? Well, no exception to that rule here. Two such devices stand out above everything, the Improbability drive which changes things to the most improbable objects (there is also an Infinite Improbability Drive which allows the ship to travel faster than light speed) and the point of view gun which allows the person holding it to send their point of view to someone else. I’m sure there are more than a few women who would love to shoot this at their husbands!

What didn’t I like?

Best of the best. Some of the best parts of the film are the parts that don’t get as much, such as Alan Rickman voicing Marvin the Robot. As much of a downer as Marvin is, you can’t help but want to see more of him. John Malkovich’s Humma Kavula was darkly odd and he basically is nothing more than a cameo. Perhaps they were holding him off for a bigger role in the sequel that never happened, or more scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast was also of note. While he wasn’t the best character, Night is always entertaining. These are just some of the examples of underutilized talent.

Towel. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t believe the importance of the towel was ever discussed. If such a big deal is going to be made over having a towel while hitchhiking across the galaxy, shouldn’t we know what is so important about it? Other than being able to chase Vogons away with it, I don’t think any reference was made to its use. Would it have been too much to ask for them to tell us why is it necessary?

Pacing. At times, the flick slows down, which is fine, I guess, but it does this at the most inopportune times. Just as the audience is getting into one story, such as the Vogons addiction to paperwork, it just prattles on with filler until the next big scene. Perhaps this is a British thing, but my American sensibilities didn’t quite jibe with the pacing.

What else can I say about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? The mix of sci-fi, comedy, action, and a hint of drama make for quite the enjoyable film, if I do say so myself. Sadly, this overlooked film never got the sequel it deserved because it didn’t make as much money as the studios would have liked. So, do I recommend this film? Do you really need to ask? I highly recommend this gem as a must see before you die! Check it out and enjoy!

5 out of 5 stars

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

Don’t Panic!

PLOT:

The movie begins with the narrator (voiced by Stephen Fry) quoting the 23rd chapter of the original book, explaining that dolphins, the second most-intelligent mammals on Earth (humans being the third and mice being the first), have been trying to warn mankind about the impending destruction of Earth. Their backflips and swimming patterns, according to the Guide, are their way of communicating with humans. Humans, however, interpreted their warnings as amusing attempts to whistle for tidbits or punch footballs. Considering their mission a failure, the dolphins decide to leave, after passing their final message So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. (This was misinterpreted as an attempt to do a double-backflip somersault through a hoop while whistling The Star-Spangled Banner.)

One morning, waking to the sound of bulldozers encroaching upon his house, Arthur Dent realizes that his home is going to be destroyed to build a highway bypass. He tries to prevent the destruction of his home by lying in the path of the bulldozers. His attempts are interrupted by his friend Ford Prefect, who persuades Arthur to accompany him to the local pub, where he reveals that he is actually an alien from the region of Betelgeuse (and not from Guildford after all). Arthur nonchalantly comments “Well, that explains the accent.”

When Ford first came to Earth, he thought that cars were the dominant life form (which explains his name, Ford Prefect, a popular British Car) and tried to shake a moving one’s hand. Arthur pulled him out of the road before he was run over. As a favour for saving his life, Ford rescues Arthur from certain death when the Earth is demolished by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace expressway. They hitchhike aboard a Vogon ship, where they discovered and tortured by being made to listen to Vogon poetry (the third-worst in the universe). Although Ford is visably affected, Arthur expresses his admiration. The Vogons throw them out of the ship anyway.

They are rescued by the Heart of Gold. The ship was stolen by Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox, accompanied by Tricia McMillan, now calling herself Trillian, and Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Aboard the ship, Zaphod reveals his intention to visit the planet Magrathea using the Heart of Gold, which he stole for this purpose. He introduces the other characters to the story of the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, via a Magrathean data archive cube. Long ago, the people of Magrathea built the ultimate supercomputer, Deep Thought, to learn the Ultimate Answer. After seven and a half million years of pondering, the computer declared that the Answer was “forty-two”, and explained that the Ultimate Answer didn’t make sense to them because no one knew exactly what the Ultimate Question was, an even more mysterious truth that even Deep Thought wasn’t powerful enough to figure out. Deep Thought then told the people about an even more advanced computer which could be built which could ask the Ultimate Question. The recording ends, however, before the new computer’s name could be announced.

They take a detour, however, when they encounter the planet of Viltvodle VI, home of the Jatravartids and Humma Kavula, who was Zaphod’s opponent in the election for President of the Galaxy. Kavula has a small red cube that contains the coordinates to Magrathea, and offers it to Zaphod in exchange for a gun (the Point-of-view gun) that can be found near Deep Thought. Kavula requires a “hostage” in order to ensure that Zaphod will complete the quest, and removes Zaphod’s second head (which is turned into a hula dancer bobblehead). Zaphod appears to lose the function of his third arm, suggesting that it was controlled by his second head.

During their departure from Viltvodle VI, Trillian is captured by the Vogons and brought to their homeworld, Vogsphere. Arthur, Ford, and Zaphod go to the Vogon homeworld and try to rescue Trillian. Upon stepping off their ship they briefly encounter subterraneous fauna that attack people who exhibit original thought by slapping them in the face, which they manage to evade once they reach an urban area. The excessive bureaucracy associated with many governing bodies is parodied when they are confronted by the amount of red tape that they must forge through to rescue Trillian.

As Trillian is processed, she learns of the destruction of the Earth, which Arthur had not told her about. She also learns that Zaphod was the one who absent-mindedly signed the demolition order for Earth (thinking it was an autograph request, he signed it “Love & Kisses, Zaphod”). Arthur, Zaphod, and Ford manage to fill out the appropriate Presidential Prisoner Release forms to have Trillian released just before she is fed to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.Then the crew escapes Vogsphere.

Throughout the film, the Vogons remain in pursuit of Zaphod and the Heart of Gold, at the behest of the Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok who wishes to “rescue” the President from his abductor (Zaphod abducted himself when he stole the Heart of Gold). The Heart of Goldheads for Magrathea. Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford meet Deep Thought and learn that the computer which could tell the Ultimate Question was in fact Earth itself, with the actions of all the creatures upon it part of the calculation. Arthur, having lost the others, meets a man named Slartibartfast, and learns of Earth’s true origin and how Slartibartfast worked for a company where planets like Earth were custom made, and even won an award for building the coasts of Norway. While touring the Magrathean Planet Factory Floor, Arthur is introduced to the Earth Mark II, a backup copy. He is eventually led to a perfect recreation of his home in England.

Meanwhile, beneath Deep Thought, Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford find the Point-of-view gun, the object sought by Humma Kavula. According to the Guide, it was built by Deep Thought for a council of angry housewives who were tired of ending arguments by complaining to husbands that “you just don’t get it, do you?” When fired, the Point-of-view gun causes the target to experience the point of view of the wielder. Trillian uses it to make Zaphod understand her conflicting feelings about their relationship.

Back at Arthur’s house, Arthur is reunited with Ford, Zaphod and Trillian, who are busy enjoying a lavish meal provided by the mice. But it is a trap to enable the mice to restrain Arthur and extract his brain, as it was one of the only components left from the Earth after its demolition, and is believed to have the Ultimate Question in it. Faced with his demise, Arthur finally expresses his love for Trillian, breaks free from his restraints, and squishes the mice with a teapot. The flattened mice morph back into the representatives of the builders of Deep Thought before fading out of Earth’s dimension.

The heroes exit Arthur’s house, only to find themselves surrounded by a battalion of Vogon soldiers, who try to kill them. While Zaphod attempts to operate Arthur’s “spaceship” (which is in fact just a caravan), Arthur and Trillian try to retrieve the dropped Point-of-view gun, but are forced to use the caravan as cover from the wild hail of fire the Vogons direct at them. Being the worst shots in the universe though, they don’t hit a thing. Marvin goes to catch up with the rest, but he is hit in the back of the head by a Vogon blast. Just as it seems that they are doomed, Marvin reactivates and picks up the nearby Point-of-view gun. He fires, hitting all of the Vogons and exposing them to his perspective on life; they all instantly become incredibly depressed and collapse.

As the depressed Vogons are taken away and the final touches are applied to Earth Mark II, Slartibartfast asks Arthur if there is anything that the new Earth could do without; Arthur replies, “Yeah, me.” Earth’s life cycle is restarted just as it was before the Vogons demolished it, and the movie ends with Arthur and his companions, Rontok in tow, reboarding the Heart of Gold, bound for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, briefly heading towards the other end, which results in the ship making the sound of screeching brakes and turning around. This is a minor flaw, for Marvin states, “the restaurant is at the other end of the universe,” while the restaurant is at the end of time, not the end of space.

REVIEW:

This is my kind of movie. Nothing serious about it, just pure fun. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t hurt things either!

The film is based on a series of books. I’ve read them a few times. As with most movies based on literature, there are a few differences, some which should not have been changed, but I think, as a whole they did a good job.

My only complaint with the film is that a sequel has yet to be made, especially with all the actors already signed, but Hollywood is all about how much money a movie makes, not pleasing the fans.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

5 out of 5 stars