Archive for Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hitchhiker’ a decent ride

September 17, 2005

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When "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" opened in April, it didn't exactly light up the box office skies. After debuting in the No. 1 slot, the quirky adaptation of the Douglas Adams story was quickly overshadowed by other early summer fare, most notably a film from another galaxy far, far away, "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

Still, the film brought in a respectable $51 million in North America, a tally that will undoubtedly rise now that it is on DVD (released Tuesday), a format more likely to turn the unconventional philosophical adventure into an offbeat cult hit.

Thanks to its distinctly British sensibilities and affable cast - including Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel and "The Office's" Martin Freeman as leading man Arthur Dent - this geeked-out sci-fi charmer will win over many but befuddle some, particularly those unfamiliar with the first installment in Adams' popular series of novels. Still, the curious - especially hardcore Adams loyalists wary of a version that sullies the legacy of the "Hitchhiker's" saga - would be wise to give the film a shot. The opening alone, which features a dolphin-centric musical number called "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," makes the DVD worth the price of a rental.

The extras win cleverness points for maintaining the look and feel of the animated "Guide" entries depicted in the movie. The single disc comes with a few enjoyable, though not exceptional, extras including: a nine-minute making-of featurette; deleted scenes; a hangman game hosted by Marvin, the perpetually depressed robot; a sing-along version of "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," complete with a tiny bouncing dolphin; and two engaging audio commentaries. Viewers may also have some fun with the "Improbability Drive" option, which - like the "Hitchhiker" spaceship's reality-altering button - randomly chooses an extra to show. It's bonus-feature viewing for iPod Shufflers, at least until viewers realize there are only so many extras the Drive can improbably select.

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