Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, John Malkovich, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman

Garth Jennings

Running Time:
110 mins

Out to buy on DVD 05/09/05

"Don't Panic"

Arthur Dent (Freeman) wasn't having a great start to his day. Bulldozers have turned up to knock down his house to make way for a bypass but he friend Ford Prefect (Def) had even graver news. Not only is his house due for demolition but the Earth is also scheduled to be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway. Just as the Earth is about to explode Ford manages to save them both by hitching a ride on one of the spaceships in orbit. Ford then gives him a copy of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', an intergalactic encyclopedia which comes with the instruction 'Don't Panic!'

If there was one cult phenomenon that deserved to be transformed into a motion picture, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' is the one.

The Douglas Adams's fantastical stories of Arthur Dent's adventures in the galaxy had moved from radio to books to TV, so the step to the silver screen was the next obvious choice but it has been years coming. Adams himself was working on the screenplay when he tragically passed away but the adaptation pushed ahead and the good news for fans is that all their expectations for the film have been met and then some.

All your favourite characters are here and are wonderfully played by the British and American cast. Martin Freeman is excellent as Arthur Dent. He portrays the last surviving human male with all the fear and trepidation that you would expect from someone thrown into a completely unbelievable situation. While the Guide tells him not to panic, seeing spaceships, aliens and the realisation that his home planet has just been destroyed is a little too much information for him to comprehend. Mos Def is also fantastic as Arthur's best friend Ford Prefect. Unbeknownst to Arthur, Ford is in fact an alien, who is gathering information for the latest version of the Guide. The casting of a hip-hop star in such a pivotal role in the movie might have sounded completely wrong but Def is really excellent in the role and is everything you want from the character. The same can be said about Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, the last surviving human female from Earth. She has always been an interesting and talented actress, playing standout parts and never really conforming to the usual Hollywood female persona. She makes Trillian believable and adventurous allowing you to understand why Arthur fell for her.

Stealing the show is the excellent Sam Rockwell. Still one of the most underrated stars working today and he brings all his skills to bear as Zaphod Beeblebrox. The luckily elected President of the Universe, is completely full of his own self-importance and thinks that everyone adores him. He even stages his own kidnapping to raise his profile. Rockwell excels in the role, providing many of the laughs and most of the slapstick.

There are also some noticeable smaller roles for Bill Nighy as planet designer Slartibartfast and Anna Chancellor as Questular Rontok. Also look out for some cameos that fans will really appreciate.

The film isn't all about onscreen actors however, there are also some fantastic vocal performances. Alan Rickman is superb as Marvin, the clinically depressed robot. He has some of the best lines in the film and Rickman's deadpan delivery makes you wonder why he isn't providing vocal performances all the time. The casting of Stephen Fry as the voice of the guide was inspired. He provides all the detail and advice from the guide with the completely right tone to make even the most preposterous statement sound convincing. Helen Mirren is also good as the voice of Deep Thought, the computer built to answer the ultimate question.

The visual effects are outstanding. Successfully merging amazing computer generated visual effects with brilliant creature makeup and designs, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' is a visual treat. The space and planetary scenes are beautifully designed and realised, to produce some of the best science fiction effects in a long time. The filmmakers have also made the right choice by creating the Vogons and Marvin as fully created creature effects. These still look far better than anything created by computer and the quality of the designs make them seem real.

'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' takes you into the surreal and hilarious mind of Douglas Adams. Fans of the series should rejoice at their favourite characters on the silver screen and the rest of us should delve into this brilliantly conceived universe and enjoy every single second of it. Don't Panic, this is a movie destined for cult status.

Audio commentary from director Garth Jennings
Deleted scenes
Fake deleted scenes
Additional entries from the Guide
Sing-a-long to "Thanks For All The Fish"
'Marvin's Hangman' set-top game
'Making Of' Featurette
UK exclusive bonus feature: Don't Crash: The Making Of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

Galaxy Quest

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