The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. An early Blu-ray release, the image felt inconsistent.
Sharpness generally appeared pretty good, though not great. At best, the film exhibited fairly appealing delineation, but it lacked the accuracy I’d expect from Blu-ray, and it could look a bit mushy at times.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also failed to detect any source flaws. Edge haloes failed to appear, but some digital artifacts cropped up along the way.
Colors varied dependent on the setting. From the heavy greens of the Earth segments to the blown-out whites of the film’s main ship to the arid look of Magrathea, we got many different tones. These occasionally looked a bit flat, but the disc usually replicated them with good fidelity.
Blacks were mostly dense and tight, and low-light shots demonstrated reasonably delineation. The film could use an update, as its age showed in this lackluster presentation.
Happily, I found very little about which to complain when I examined the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Despite its comedic, absurdist bent, Guide lived in the world of sci-fi action as well, which meant a tendency toward that form of audio.
The soundfield proved to be consistently vivid and engaging. Elements popped up from all over the room and blended together with solid smoothness and clarity.
When appropriate, pieces zipped from one spot to another and connected well. Big action setpieces scored the best, but even quieter moments showed good delineation and placement. This was a lively track that formed a strong soundscape.
Audio quality followed suit. I never noticed issues with intelligibility or edginess as I listened to dialogue. Instead, the lines were natural and concise.
Music blasted with fine clarity and range, and the effects offered similar tones. I always felt the various elements were accurate and distinctive, and they presented strong depth when necessary.
The mix used the subwoofer to good effect but resisted the urge to blast us with excessive bass. This was a terrific mix that added life to the movie.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio added oomph, while visuals felt smoother and better defined. While the Blu-ray suffered from its early vintage, it still worked a bit better than the DVD.
Some of the DVD’s extras reappear here, and we find a pair of audio commentaries. The first presents remarks from director Garth Jennings, producer Nick Goldsmith and actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion.
And a chatty piece it is! The men interact well to make this a lively conversation. They discuss songs and music, second unit photography, visual effects and puppets, costumes and characters, sets and locations, stunts, and many notes from the set.
A lot of these take a humorous bent, such as the many cracks on Mos Def’s tendency to fall asleep at the drop of a hat or Sam Rockwell’s nuttiness. There’s a lot more happy talk than I’d like and I can’t say this acts as a terrific encapsulation of the production. Still, the mix of decent data with mirth makes it worthwhile and enjoyable.
For the second commentary, we hear from executive producer Robbie Stamp and Douglas Adams’ colleague Sean Solle. Both men sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion.
Though the piece starts slowly, it picks up a bit as it progresses. Stamp and Solle mostly cover thoughts of Adams and his work as well as variations among different incarnations of Guide. We learn about a few production topics as well, but the emphasis sticks with Adams-related issues.
Too much dead air occurs, especially early, and we get a lot of the usual praise. Despite those problems, this piece adds a more personal touch about the Guide’s creator and it provides some decent information.
A 47-second Additional Guide Entry covers the non-existence of God. Jennings mentions this in the commentary, so it’s good to see.
Three Deleted Scenes appear. We get “Earth: Mostly Harmless” (0:50), “’We’re Going to Win’” (0:27) and “Impossible Forces” (1:01). We also find two Really Deleted Scenes: “Do Panic!” (1:51) and “Arthur Escapes” (0:57).
The first three are real cut sequences; nothing too consequential appears, though “Forces” shows some romance between Zaphod and Questular Rontak. The two “Really Deleted Scenes” are comic pieces of overacting and silliness obviously never meant for the movie.
A staple of early Disney Blu-rays, Movie Showcase delivers a form of chapter search. It lets you jump to any of three different action scenes. It’s a waste of time.
The Blu-ray omits minor extras from the DVD, as it drops a brief featurette, a “sing-along”, a game and previews. These don’t seem like major losses.
Fitfully funny and inventive, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy never quite lives up to its potential. It presents more than enough cleverness and humor to make it enjoyable, but it remains a moderate disappointment. The Blu-ray offers lackluster visuals with excellent audio and a decent set of extras. The Blu-ray could use an update.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY