Making your brain hurt since 2005.
I have to admit that while Martin Freeman's performance in this adaptation of "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" isn't as great as Stephen Fry's reading of the original "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" it's not bad. As some of you may know Martin Freeman played Arthur Dent in the most recent film adaptation of HHGTG. The biggest problem I hear from the other reviews are about Freeman's portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox as having a more East Coast (more appropriately Bostonian) accent, his portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox's Great-grandfather as an old reedy, high pitched, southern accent (which actually fits if you listen to the actual narration, which describes the character's accent as being high-pitched and sounding like "nails on a chalkboard" to Zaphod). My only issue so far has been with the portrayal of Mr. Zarneewoop. Freeman does apparently have some trouble maintaining this voice for some reason. The voice overall isn't great. However Martin Freeman is a seasoned actor and for the rest of the cast he's very good.
Honestly I wasn't turned off by this reading like a lot of people have complained about. So, really, you might as well give it a try.
Ordering a steak at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Freeman is a seasoned actor, as mentioned before. While he's not incredibly amazing as a narrator for an audiobook he does add enough inflection to give you a good read.
The story is great, but the narrators Ralph Machio sounding voice for Zaphod made me cringe every time he spoke.
The overall performance was great, and that almost makes the one awful voice that much worse. If only this one could have been narrated by Stephen Fry as well, it would be among my favorite audio books.
I'm a big HGTTG fan, and over the years I've listened to all the radio dramatizations and at least 3 or 4 different versions of the audiobooks (Stephen Fry, Douglas Adams, Martin Freeman and I think Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent in the original radio series).
Martin Freeman played Arthur Dent in the 2005 HGTTG movie, so he's familiar with the material, understands most of the characters, and a couple of his characterizations are pretty good - I thought he did a great Marvin. And he's a good actor, too - he plays Watson in the new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes that everyone loves so much.
But his Zaphod is bad, it's inconsistent with the radio series, and I found myself wanting to give him either a cup of strong coffee or a couple of anti-depressants, because he just doesn't seem to have much enthusiasm. And HGTTG is supposed to have a lot of zip.
My recommendation is: Don't buy this version. Try to track down the Douglas Adams or Simon Jones versions.
The reader in this book reads the text flatly. He buzzes through spectacularly described scenes or events and gives no feeling of weight to their absurdity or vastness. This was disappointing after coming from an excellent reading of the first book done by Stephen Fry. The real deal-breaker was that Zaphod sounds like Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinny". Zaphod's lines were so distracting that it made the book unlistenable.
This is a great book, and if you can get past Martin Freeman's grating rendition of Zaphod Beeblebrox, you'll probably enjoy this, as it's a pretty good book. I could only get a quarter of the way through without having to stop and turn it off. Beeblebrox sounds like a love child of Rocky Balboa and Jerry Lewis, if the child had a fingernail-blackboard fetish. Annoying characters can be entertaining, but not annoying performances.
Mentioned before, but I must agree that the voice acting is terrible, specifically Zaphod. It's a shame really, because otherwise the book would have been great.
I don't know what happened. The first book, read by Stephen Fry, was handled superbly. This one...eesh. Martin Freeman's reading is good enough, though he does sound terribly bored -- and a little sad -- the entire time. The real crime, though, is the audio mixing. Various characters are inexplicably given exceedingly difficult-to-understand "robotic" tinny voices, even when they aren't robots (Marvin sounds normal, for the record), and their volume is quite a bit quieter than the rest of the narration. The end result is, whenever someone comes on with this voice filter, you have to turn the volume up and strain to understand, only to be blasted in the ears when the narration changes.
On top of that, while Zaphod's voice was annoying enough, Max (at Milliway's) voice was EAR SPLITTING. I had the hardest time understanding him, and just eventually gave up.
Whoever thought to muck about with the voices like this for an audiobook ought to be sacked.
I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the original. The narrator's voice grated and the plot and story didn't grip me as much. The Voice didn't bother me as much as some of the other reviewers but I certainly preferred the person who did the first more. I won't be listening to the rest of the series from this narrator.
Wonderful comedic universe.
The entire concept of the restaurant is beautifully realized by Adams.
This is the first narration I've listened to by Martin Freeman, though I am very familiar with his work on screen. Some have complained about his rendition of Zaphod, but it is not a bad performance. Freeman's portrayal of Zaphod fits well with the way he is described in the books, and once I got used to his voice I didn't mind at all.
Stephen Fry's guide narrations from the first audiobook are unmatched, but Freeman excels at creating unique voices for each of the characters (he manages a surprising range of voices) and drawing you into the action. I can't wait to listen to more.
Lost in space-time
Wonderful installment in a classic series. You will love it.