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Garth Jennings
Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell
Writing Credits:
Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick

Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

Box Office:
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$21,103,203 on 3133 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English PCM 5.1
English Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $15.99
Release Date: 1/23/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Garth Jennings, Producer Nick Goldsmith And Actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy
• Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Robbie Stamp and Douglas Adams’ Colleague Sean Solle
• Additional Guide Entry
• Deleted Scenes
• Really Deleted Scenes
• Movie Showcase


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy [Blu-Ray] (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 28, 2021)

As Peter Jackson proved with the Lord of the Rings movies, sometimes filmmakers can take a property with a passionate cult fan base, live up to those expectations and turn it into a popular hit as well.

Alas, such success didn’t occur for 2005’s big screen adaptation of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It raked in a lackluster $51 million and didn’t attract much of an audience.

And that means me as well, since I skipped it during its theatrical release. Now that I’ve seen it, I think Guide deserves credit for trying something different, but it only sporadically achieves its goals.

Guide introduces us to typical Englishman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman). A crew plans to demolish his house to allow them to build a bypass, but he stands in their way. His buddy Ford Prefect (Mos Def) tells him this is all a moot point as the world will end in about 12 minutes anyway.

And Ford – who turns out to be an alien - is correct. A bureaucratic species called Vogons blows up the Earth for their own construction purposes, but Ford uses his hitchhiking thumb ring to get them off the planet.

After a risky sojourn on a Vogon ship, they wind up on a craft stolen by galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), a nutbag who kidnapped himself.

Arthur also re-encounters lovely young Tricia MacMillan (Zooey Deschanel), now rechristened “Trillian” for short. They met a while back at a costume party, but Arthur blew his chance to connect with her and she hooked up with Zaphod instead.

A series of complications and adventures ensue, but most of these revolve around one goal. Zaphod wants to get to the planet Magrathea, the home of a supercomputer that provided the answer to an important question.

Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is, so Zaphod seeks that information. The film follows this quest and all of its connected antics.

Expect all sorts of connected antics in Guide. In fact, the movie tosses out more connected antics than actual story.

That’s a problem when you adapt a much larger work into a film that runs less than two hours. Guide enjoyed many incarnations over the years. It started as a multi-part radio show and grew into books, a stage production, and other endeavors.

All that creates a lot of material to pack into a relatively short film. I know that Guide doesn’t attempt to fit everything from the various projects into its 108 minutes, but it seems to attempt too much. The movie zips about from scenario to scenario with such alacrity that we rarely get a chance to settle into one or another.

Instead, the bits and pieces zoom past us, and this means that the elements come across as little more than story fragments. We don’t dally on one scene for long, as the film needs to pack in 100 more before the end credits roll.

This frenetic pacing works okay for a while, but eventually it wears thin. The movie simply tries to deliver too many aspects of the story, and that doesn’t allow many of them to grow and develop. The pieces provide occasional laughs and thrills, but not much depth.

Another problem stems from the use of a narrator. That voice works in text or on radio but not here.

Rather than become part of the story, the narrator distracts and plays the expository role to a dominant degree. Attempts at humor fall flat, as the narration comes across as heavy-handed and dense.

Don’t take all these criticisms as an indication that Guide flops, however. It scores in two areas: visual creativity and performances.

The movie enjoys a very good cast, and they all fill out their roles well. The best work comes from the usually-reliable Rockwell in his nutty Elvis-inspired take on the leader. He enlivens his scenes with unpredictable energy and makes this yet another in his many lively turns.

The movie also consistently looks great. It affords many different settings, and these manage to seem inventive and delightful.

I also like the film’s surprising lack of reliance on CGI. Sure, plenty of that work appears, but we also get decidedly non-computer elements like the creations from Jim Henson’s shop. These add an old-fashioned sense of weight to the proceedings.

Ultimately, there’s enough amusement and cleverness on display in Guide to make it enjoyable. I can’t help but think that it would have worked better with a more limited scope, however. It simply tries to fit too much material into a short period of time, and that truncated feel robs it of much depth.

Footnote: stick around through the end credits for some added material.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

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

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main