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HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Earthman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is having a very bad day. His house is about to be bulldozed, he discovers that his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) is an alien and to top things off, Planet Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur's life is saved by Ford with hitch on a ride on a passing spacecraft. For this novice space traveler, the greatest adventure in the universe begins when the world ends, including the possibility of a romance with Tricia (Zooey Deschanel). But he finds that nothing is as it seems and learns that a towel is the most useful thing in the universe. He also finds the meaning of life, and discovers that everything he needs to know can be found in one book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Review by Louise Keller:
Bubbling over with wonderfully innovative and fresh ideas, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a witty, wacky satirical sci-fi adventure that is as irreverent as it is profound. Its brilliance comes from the fact that on one hand we can relate to the every day issues it raises, yet at the same time, it goes way over the boiling point of the barometer of sanity. The result is a cross between Monty Python and Men in Black, and the search for the meaning of life, the universe and everything, has never been such fun. For the uninitiated, the film is based on Douglas Adams' bestselling novel, written after the extraordinary success of his 1978 BBC Radio play. A series of books followed and immediately attracted a cult following.

Have you ever had one of those days when everything goes wrong? You think things can't get any worse, but very quickly you realise that things can always get worse. Arthur is an ordinary kind of guy who enjoys his 'nice cup of tea'. He thinks that having his house demolished is as bad as it gets, but that's before he learns his best friend (Mos Def) is an alien and the earth is about to be destroyed. What could be more natural than for Ford Prefect to hitch a ride, and although the chances of survival are next to none, they find themselves scooped up by a spaceship containing Sam Rockwell's ego-maniacal two-headed President of the Galaxy and the adventurous girl of his dreams, astrophysicist Trillian (Zooey Deschanel).

UK comedian Martin Freeman makes a perfect everyman Arthur, whisked out of his element and thrown into a crazy inter-galactic world dominated by Vogons, ugly monsters with bad skin, swollen lips, double chins and bad teeth who write bad poetry. Alan Rickman voices the maniacally depressed squat robot with the oversized head, while Bill Nighy has the unlikely name of Slartibartfast, the Magrathean planet designer who takes Arthur on an extraordinary tour of the galaxy. John Malkovich's scene stealing religious cult leader is a new character Adams created especially for the film, a hideously bespectacled red curly head with some distinguishing features.

Special effects never overshadow the characters or ideas. And there are a couple of priceless gadgets. There's a white helmet thinking cap with a lemon squeezer on top, and when Rockwell's President loses one of his two heads, there is nothing for his brain to run on, except the juice of a lemon. Marguerita lovers rejoice! The other is a gun that stuns its intended (male) victim into understanding your point of view. Every woman should own one! Stephen Fry's narration is our guide and in the course of their adventures in the galaxy, Arthur and Trillian find the long-distance way to true love.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is so much fun it's out of this world. Pretty well everything you always wanted to know about The Hitchhiker's Guide but were afraid to ask is on the DVD, and it's all a riot. The making of feature even includes footage of the final screen test between Freeman and Deschanel. 'They had an unusual chemistry,' says director Jennings, 'Very odd girl meets slightly stupid boy.' Sam Rockwell ('he was prepared to look like a real ass') explains his President is an amalgam of Elvis, Bill Clinton, Patrick Swayze and Brad Pitt. '...gave me a licence to be very theatrical... a Zero Mostel, Robin Williams kind of part. They couldn't afford Jim Carrey, so they got me..'

There's a singalong (Thanks For All The Fish), deleted scenes and then the Really Deleted Scenes which need no explanation as to why they didn't make the final cut. The mood is chaos, as the cast swears, uses mobile phones, asks for Evian, cups of tea and criticizes the script. There are two audio commentaries, the most entertaining being with director Jennings, producer Goldsmith, and actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy. From the teensiest detail (Freeman's 'jim jams' toweling robe was flown from Turkey), to how true to the original spirit the film tried to be, the commentary is a mix of irreverent humour and fascinating insight. This is a DVD you will play again and again....

Published September 29, 2005

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HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, THE: DVD (PG)
(US/UK, 2005)

CAST: Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, John Malkovich, Warwick Davis, Alan Rickman

NARRATION: Stephen Fry

PRODUCER: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Nick Goldsmith, Jay Roach

DIRECTOR: Garth Jennings

SCRIPT: Douglas Adams

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Igor Jadue-Lillo

EDITOR: Niven Howie

MUSIC: Joby Talbot

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Joel Collins

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 28, 2005

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; 2.35:1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentaries, The Making Of - Behind the scenes with interviews from cast and crew, Fake Deleted Scenes, Really Deleted Scenes, Improbability Drive Button, Additional Guide Entry, Sing Along "So Long & Thanks For All The Fish", Marvin's Hangman Game

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

DVD RELEASE: September 21, 2005







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