Like one or two other people, I’ve been looking forward to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. I was expecting to know the plot, give or take a few tweaks here or there but it hadn’t occurred to me that I’d also know much of the dialogue. Some of it I could have recited with the characters, other bits came rushing back from whenever it was I last read or heard them, and other remembered phrases were glaring in their absence. “But you forgot the next line!” I kept thinking. Where in my mind has this useless stuff been living all these years?
But no matter, the film was was fun. Oooh yes, great shiny slick colourful hand-clapping smiling fun. Zaphod was perfect, Arthur was pretty good (although I’d have liked a bit more snappy surliness), Ford wasn’t bad (although could have been a bit sharper), Trillian was hot (to be honest there never was much character to work with other than the hotness), Slartibartast was as wonderful as Bill Nighy always is, Marvin was Marvin… And I’ll say little more about the details because there are so many of them to look forward to if you’ve yet to have the pleasure.
Another thing I won’t say is whether it’s a good film. Because I’ve no idea. I loved the ride and revelled in the revamped, high-production memories. It’s a stream of one wonderful sequence after another, but I really can’t tell if that stream adds up to a decent plot or a satisfying movie. The ideas are so familiar to me that it’s the re-rendering of them that’s the joy and I don’t know if that’s enough for anyone who hasn’t absorbed the material over the past decades. I hope so, I really hope people love it as an original film, but I can’t tell and I’m a little concerned that it won’t hold up on its own. We’ll see.
It’s a pleasant coincidence that the new Dr Who is showing now. At one point in Hitchhiker’s the depressed state of the galactic economy is mentioned and I thought “oh yes, they mentioned that earlier,” only to realise it was the aliens in the Dr Who I’d watched before the movie who were hoping to profit from the galactic downturn.
Somewhere out there is a universe based entirely on resurrected late twentieth century British science fiction franchises. Where every planet, every room, every person is packed full of high-definition references and knowing winks to previous incarnations. If Hitchhiker’s is as successful as Dr Who appears to be, how long until Blake’s 7 makes a revamped, big-budget appearance to satisfy nostalgic thirtysomethings?