Expectations are both the
lifeblood and the killers of the video game industry. No,
I'm not saying this lightly. Expectations are what make
players buy new games. A proper advertising campaign makes
players want to buy in. A proper word-of-mouth campaign
trumpets the gameplay and how fun it is, TV spots advertise
the graphics (and sometimes the storyline). Previous games
whet gamer appetites for more in their storyline or gameplay
world to work with.
Think of all the big
sellers. What do they all have in common? High expectations.
Devil May Cry, Halo, Fable, and more; every game had gamers
drooling to buy it. Sometimes the excitement was warranted;
Halo and Halo2 certainly proved that. The sheer number of
people willing to gripe about changes made to Halo's engine
in creating Halo2 is a testament to the strength of both the
original Halo and the strength of Microsoft's marketing
campaign. Devil May Cry 2 and Fable, meanwhile, suffered
from expectations that they couldn't live up to, at least
not enough to survive.
A movie came out this
weekend. A movie based on an old favorite series of books
that I've read and re-read and re-read ad nauseum
since childhood. The movie is
Guide to the Galaxy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I
enjoyed it despite the best efforts of trolls on certain
news sites linking to bad reviews
another (to their credit, it's
not all bad).
Writers who have reviewed
the film and hated it, seem to have one entire focus:
whether or not certain scenes (a) exist in the book, (b)
exist in ANY Douglas Adams book, or (c) if they exist in the
book, are played out word-for-word with what is written IN
the book. Of course, this sort of a reviewing process is
going to give any book-to-movie conversion a bad name, with
the possible exception of
the only movie (at least in my experience) to have actually
been better than the book that spawned it.
Now, granted, there ARE some
omissions that I felt didn't need to be made, and some
scenes are shortened somewhat too far. Many of the scenes in
the books are skits as a whole, built for radio and/or
book-style comedy with the audience imagining the visuals.
Ford and Arthur's conversation in the pub, for instance, is
a bit briefer than it needs to be, and rather than having
Ford convince Mr. Prosser to lie down in front of the
bulldozer, he simply bribes the workers with beer and drags
Arthur to the pub.
On the other hand, there are
plenty of new moments to enjoy. I challenge anyone out there
not to laugh at Humma Kavula's church service (bless you!),
or to notice the obvious parallels between British and
American politics and Humma Kavula's "Don't Vote for Stupid"
campaign when running for President of the Galaxy. The
thinking cap is a nifty invention, and the Heart of Gold's
motion through space, while not entirely what many had
envisioned (having only the BBC's production
value-challenged visions to compare to) is suitably
Overall, this is not a movie
to sit down and have large-scale debate about. Especially
when some of the elements, like the Point-Of-View Gun and
Humma Kavula himself, were written into the script by
Douglas Adams himself before he died. It's a movie to sit
down and enjoy and have a good laugh at.
The acting is superb.
Trillian is about as self-confident as one envisions from
the books. Arthur Dent isn't the "leading man" of the books,
so those expecting Martin Freeman to portray him that way
can very well just be disappointed and move on. Freeman
plays Arthur perfectly as the slightly irritated human who
has very little clue what is going on, and it works quite
well. Sam Rockwell does a brilliant Zaphod, exuding almost
criminally the "he's just this guy, ya know" vibe, and
despite the reservations many would have about Mos Def as a
hip-hop singer, his acting talents shine through and he does
an amazing job portraying the laid-back, towel-carrying Ford
There are still fans griping
about what Peter Jackson missed/changed when he did The Lord
of the Rings. There are still fans griping about elements of
the new Star Wars movies and even about changes made to the
Special Edition cuts of the originals. There are fans pissed
off about the digital removal of guns from E.T. And those
last two, the Directors themselves are the reason.
Enjoy the movies, please.
Set aside your expectations for 2 hours, and just sit back
and enjoy what's been created. Especially when it's obvious
that the directors and actors did a lot of work trying to do
justice to something that you, and millions of others, have
loved since childhood.
Now, if they turn out
then by all means feel free to raise holy hell.
Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
right here for everyone to see!