This was a movie I've been looking forward to for a very long time. My family used to listen to it every night when it was on NPR, and I've always adored it. I have two things to say before I go on to the spoilerish stuff. One is that it was fabulous, and if you like the series in any form, you should go see it. The other is that Douglas Adams would have loved it. And that, beyond anything else, is a great reason to see the film.
Let's start with what I wanted from this movie. I didn't expect a faithful recreation of either radio-play or book, as both end rather on cliffhangers, and wouldn't work well for a movie. I did expect most of the same basic storyline. Man wakes up to find house about to be smashed down, friend comes to save him, house gets smashed, Earth gets blown up, he and friend are captured, he and friend are saved via ship, ship takes them to strange planet, where they learn that Earth was just a construct. It was all there. And more.
As for the actors, the actor they chose for Arthur (who played one of the "body-doubles" in Love Actually) was perfect. Maybe not as exclamatory as he could have been, but bewildered and funny, and there. Alan Rickman, who did the voice of Marvin, was great, but was cheated again, as there were so many great Marvin lines that had to be cut to make way for the changes in the story line. Zaphod (who acted with Rickman in Galaxy Quest as the "extra"), was really pretty much perfect. Obnoxious, egotistical and brainless. Exactly how I pretty much see Zaphod. Trillian, on the other hand, just seemed wrong to me. I didn't want a brainless bubblehead like the had in the BBC TV show, but I would have liked someone with a bit more energy, and a British accent, at the very least. She wasn't bad, I just wanted her to fit better into the cast, and particularly with Arthur, since he's her love interest. Oh, and for those who care, the original Arthur Dent, as well as the BBC TV Marvin show up in the movie. No, I won't tell you where, but keep your eyes open. :) On to the storyline changes...The storyline is much the same, but they took the overriding storyline that was the main focus of the first three books (the idea that Earth was a giant computer built to discover the Ultimate Question), and made that the ultimate focus of the movie. I thought they did an exceptional job keeping everything leading to that point. A few things got dropped along the way, and a few things had to be added, but not one scene felt like it couldn't have come from the books.
For me, though, the most important thing about this series, and the thing I was most waiting to see and hear, was the Guide. After all, it is the title of the movie. And they did several entries, but there were whole sections of the movie where this idea seemed forgotten. The thing that made the original radio show stand out for me were the frequent breaks in the story where all action stopped, and the Guide took over. It was so different from anything that had come before it. It made the show more fun, and more interesting. Now, the entries they did were fabulous, but it quite disappeared in most of the sections where they'd created new scenes to explain some of the action. I think that to make this movie perfect, they would have had to add at least three more Guide entries.
Other bits and bobs...Loved Ford arriving with the trolley full of alcohol and peanuts, and bribing the demolition crew with them. Loved the inclusion of the stories about how Arthur and Ford met, and how Arthur, Trillian and Zaphod met. Adored the Vogon Constructor Fleet, part, particularly the pub patrons lying down on the floor with paper bags over their heads. The Vogons were fabulous, but the poetry wasn't nearly dreadful enough (maybe needed more of a book entry, like in the BBC TV version?). "Resistance is useless" written seven years before Next Gen, thankyouverymuch... The Heart of Gold (and the sighing doors) was adorable. Trillian showing off the kitchen, with the particular highlight of the mini-lightsaber used to toast bread as you cut it. :D Eddie wasn't quite as up as he could have been. The Pan-galactic Gargle-blasters were perfect. I loved the inclusion of Zaphod's arch-rival, who turns out to be the leader of a certain church mentioned in the Guide... Slartybadfast (sp?) was excellent as well, and another actor who was in Love Actually, to boot.
The ultimate scene, though, was when Slartybadfast took Arthur through Magrathea's planet-construction chamber. The scenery was amazing through the entire sequence.
All in all, if you go with an open mind (or a Douglas mind?), I think you'll very much enjoy the experience.
Review by elfflame from the Internet Movie Database.