Having recently read 4 of the 5 books and just watched the film, I struggle to understand how the books can be so brilliant, yet the film miss the mark so heavily.
The imagination and craft of the books (not to mention the comparisons between Adams’ description of the Guide itself and a Kindle/iPad) is well recognised, yet it just doesn’t transfer to screen.
The first reason and main cause must be the struggle to fit all the stories into a 2 hour film. It’s just not possible, and huge swathes of the story are omitted from the film.
Ultimately, I just don’t think the books’ charm transfers to screen. The books not only showcase Douglas Adams’ sense of humour and imagination, but facilitate the reader’s imagination to wander, picture their own universe and add embelishments.
Obviously, this is a criticism levelled at many book to film adaptations, different here though because of the books’ origin (in radio) and Adams’ role in co-writing the screenplay.
In my opinion, I just don’t think the film is done well enough. Average storytelling, effects, characterisation and a general rushed feeling that the director was struggling to fit everything in. Empathy with characters is so important in a film; completely lacking here.
A film per book would allow for the story to be told, but even then, I think it may come across as boring. I don’t really think the director’s imagination runs wildly enough, restricted by time, budget or free-thinking, I don’t know.
My recommendation would be, read the books, you MUST read the books, but don’t bother with the film, fight the temptation.