The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

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Released 19-Sep-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Director, Producer And Actors
Audio Commentary-Robbie Stamp (Exec. Producer) And Douglas Solle
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Additional Guide Entry
Deleted Scenes-And Really Deleted Scenes
Song Lyrics-Sing Along - 'Thanks For All The Fish'
Game-Marvin's Hangman
Featurette-Improbability Drive (Random Scenes)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 104:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Garth Jennings
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Bill Bailey
Anna Chancellor
Warwick Davis
Mos Def
Zooey Deschanel
Su Elliot
Martin Freeman
Stephen Fry
Richard Griffiths
Dominique Jackson
Simon Jones
Thomas Lennon
Mark Longhurst
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Bernie Leadon
Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, before opening, and during closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    At long last we have a full-length motion picture of Douglas Adams' classic radio play and book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was initially commissioned as a radio play and first aired in March 1978. Following that, it was published as a series of best-selling novels, a hit television series, as well as records (remember them?), cassettes and CDs. There was also at least one computer game and several stage adaptations. Now, finally, there's a movie version, released through no less a company than Disney. Sadly, Douglas Adams passed away just before the film was completed.

    This movie, released in 2005, was directed by Garth Jennings, whose only previous directorial work was in music videos. He's brought together a curious cast of relatively unknown, mainly American leads, save for Martin Freeman (perhaps best known from the TV series The Office). The other lead roles include Mos Def (an American hip hop artist) as Ford Prefect; Sam Rockwell (another American actor) as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Zooey Deschanel as Trillian.

    Thankfully, despite the predominance of American actors in the lead roles, the film retains a very 'English' feel to it. This is perhaps due in no small part to Stephen Fry's oh-so-British narration, as well as the very definite style of humour that pervades the entire film. The Director has resisted the temptation to go over the top with humour, or effects or noise and has somehow maintained the 'feel' of the original TV series (though of course with far better visuals and effects!). It's perhaps this element, as well as the humour, that actually made this film appear a little 'dated' in my view. It was a curious feeling, and definitely not reflected in the actual visuals, which were quite spectacular, both in terms of the CGI and more importantly the human imagination behind the visuals. Definitely a 'big screen' experience.

    I found that there was a slightly detached feeling to the whole film, especially after the first 30 minutes or so. I realised that I was enjoying the visuals and taking in the story, but not really getting involved to any great depth with the events, nor with any of the characters. This might have been due to the combination of slightly poor acting (especially by Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel), as well as the lack of character development, perhaps understandable given that the story had to be condensed into a relatively short film.

    The film was quite enjoyable throughout, and definitely funny at times, in a Monty Pythonesque way, though sometimes it was more a 'nerdy' humour which was a little cringeworthy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The picture quality on this DVD transfer is immaculate.

    The aspect ratio is 2.35:1 (which is the original theatrical ratio) and the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is sharp at all times with good shadow detail. There is no visible grain nor any low level noise.

    The colour presentation is lovely and rich at all times, with no oversaturation or colour bleed, whether indoors or outdoors.

    There is slight edge enhancement visible, though it's never distracting. Aliasing is visible in very few scenes, such as the grille on the box at 38:46.

    There are no visible film artefacts, as indeed there shouldn't be, given that this is a very recently made film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A superb audio transfer matches the great video transfer.

    We're treated to both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks on this release. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 English Audio Descriptive soundtrack which is like a 'talking book' for the visually impaired.

    Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and the DTS 5.1 soundtracks are superb, with constant activity in the rear surrounds. The DTS mix was more 'vibrant' and richer, and also seemed to be a little more biased towards the rear speakers, providing a more even surround field.

    Dialogue was fairly clear at all times, though I did feel it was mixed just a little too low compared to the other channels. This made it occasionally difficult to follow some dialogue, especially during action scenes.

    There was no issue with audio sync.

    The music sounded quite John Williams (Star Wars)-like at times, perhaps intentionally. It suited the on-screen action quite well and gave a rich feel to the on-screen action. I noticed that the theme from the original TV series was also used at times.

    Surround channels were very well used with some activity in the rear speakers at almost all times. There were plenty of examples of directional effects in the rear speakers, such as at 7:30, as well great front-to-rear pans such as the arrival of the Vogon Contructor Fleet at 11:07.

    The subwoofer was also used very well, with particular examples including the sounds at 13:54, 20:25 and 55:30.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Audio

    The main menu was animated and themed to look like the visual display of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the device, not the film).

Audio Commentary with Director Garth Jennings, Producer Nick Goldsmith, and actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy.

    This was quite an entertaining commentary track, packed with information on the making of the film, the effects, the locations, and so forth. Well balanced between the four 'commentators'.

Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Robbie Stamp and a colleague of the late Douglas Adams, Sean Solle.

    This was a slightly more 'serious' commentary track, but nevertheless quite entertaining for fans. There were quite a few gaps in the commentary during which the film soundtrack could be heard.

Featurette - Making Of (runtime 8:56)

    A short documentary on the process of making this film. There are snippets of interviews with the Director and other key cast and crew. Curiously, though the documentary itself is presented in 4:3 fullscreen, some of the film clips are shown in 2.35:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. This is fine, and indeed a bit clever, IF you have an automatically adjusting display. Otherwise it means constant switching, or putting up with the incorrect picture format at times.

Featurette - Additional Guide Entry (runtime 0:45)

    A short but cute little 'extract' from the Hitchhikers Guide.

Deleted Scenes

    A collection of scenes deleted from the final release of the film. These are presented in either 2.20:1 letterbox, or in 1.78:1 letterbox.

Really Deleted Scenes

    Scenes that look more like gags than actual bloopers!

Song Lyrics - Sing Along

    Sing along with the title theme "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish". Would you really? Something definitely for the fans as it's not exactly the #1 karaoke song around (as far as I know...)

Game - Marvin's Hangman

    Onscreen Marvin-themed version of the classic hangman game. Quite entertaining, though Marvin's comments are limited and get very repetitive.

Featurette- Improbability Drive

    Randomly selects from various Extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film appears to have been released in R1 with the choice of widescreen or full-screen (1.33:1) versions.

    The R1 release contains subtitles in French and Spanish and has a different cover.

    Unless you really want the French or Spanish subtitles, or wanted the full-screen version (you don't really do you?) then the R4 version is the recommended one.

Summary

    Whilst Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was exciting in scenes and looked and sounded like a 'big screen' blockbuster, I couldn't help but feel a little detached whilst viewing it. This might be a reflection of my personal taste, more than any real criticism of the film. Some of the acting and the humour wasn't the best around, but fans would be well prepared to ignore this and enjoy the film.

    The presentation on this single-disc release is wonderful, with very good Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks accompanied by a clear, 16x9 enhanced, picture. The extras are quite plentiful (including 2 commentary tracks), deleted scenes, and gags.

    The film perhaps appeals to a slightly different audience than those who would call themselves 'sci-fi' or 'space-fi' fans (like those who enjoy Star Wars or Star Trek). This is primarily a comedy set in space, and is heavily dialogue driven, but without sacrificing exciting on-screen visuals. Long time fans of the books and TV series would probably enjoy the fact that the film definitely retains the 'British' feel to the humour, thanks especially to the narration, and the director's commendable restraint with his American cast.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Superior R2 edition... - Le Bros Wilson,
Re: Superior R2 edition... - Tredanse
Totally ridiculous extras - Tredanse
Transfer is below par - Paul Cordingley
Ah, but Paul ... - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)