"V for Vendetta" is going to confuse a lot of people. Nevertheless, and make no mistake about it, this is movie making of the highest order, combining all the finest elements of great storytelling into a potent roller coaster of a movie filled with great action,intellect and above all, ideas. Its message can - and will - easily be dismissed by naysayers as sophomoric or too "out there," or "anti-american" but there is also an earnestness here that will resonate strongly, and perhaps, frighteningly, to many viewers who will not fail to see the correlation between this fictional tale and the way the world we live in works.
Filled with stereotypes and archetypes, "V" is unapologetic in its essaying of morality and in its strongly held sentiment that this tale is "for the people, by the people." Brothers and writers Larry and Andy Wachowski (of Matrix fame) have infused their screenplay with the anger, confusion and hope captured in Alan Moore's original graphic novel - and it's better looking as a result.
I truly believe that many who see "V" will be upset by it, but hopefully more of us will be inspired by its bold, blatant message and take a good hard look at ourselves and the way the world works around us and see that, with sacrifice and thoughtfulness, the world can be changed.
As Evey, Natalie Portman is cast in something of the "victim" role, but she makes us route for her, and to her credit she goes beyond that making the transformation of her character not only believable, but in the end, noble.
Hugo Weaving - the man behind the mask - gives a performance that can only be described as mesmerizing. As "V" he exposes all of the strength and weakness of a character that is equal parts savior and villain.
The physical production is beautiful in its realism as it paints a nightmarish world of the not-very-distant future (2020) and is chilling in its depiction of governmental power, socio-political corruption and, ultimately, the complacency of its citizens. Weaving's "V" challenges, and ultimately changes all of that, as he quickly unravels the fabric of civilized society, capturing the public with his bold ideas - and with the promise and permanancy of change through rebellion and political uprising.
Most chillingly, the film invokes the dread once feared in "1984" but with a renewed vigor that drives home the horrors Orwell foresaw, and still loom large in our comfy modern world. Chilling? You betcha! For those who know the novel, there is little skimping, and, given the current world situation, one must absolutely applaud the filmmakers for "going there" as far as the ending is concerned. This is film making at its emotional and challenging best.
Are there flaws? Of course there are, but ultimately "V for Vendetta" rises far above them in its presentation of a world filled with ideas that have forever been debated, and does it in a story well told, beautifully acted and full of hope for humankind. Not bad work for a movie. Actually, it's magnificent.
on March 17, 2006
Alan Moore's decision to want his name off the final credits for the film adaptation of V for Vendetta now makes sense. Moore has had a hate/hate relationship with Hollywood and the film industry in general. They've taken two of his other works in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell and bollocks'd them up (to borrow a term used quite abit in V for Vendetta). Outside of Watchmen, Alan Moore sees V for Vendetta as one of his more personal works and after reading the screenplay adaptation of the graphic novel by The Wachowski Brothers his decision afterwards was to demand his name be removed from the film if it was ever made. Part of this was his hatred of the film industry for their past mistakes and another being his wish for a perfect adaptation or none at all. Well, V for Vendetta by James McTeigue and The Wachowski Brothers is not a perfect film adaptation. What it turns out to be is a film that stays true to the spirit of Moore's graphic novel and given a modern, up-to-the-current news retelling of the world's state of affairs.
V for Vendetta starts off with abit of a prologue to explain the relevance of the Guy Fawkes mask worn by V throughout the film and the significance of the date of the 5th of November. I think this change in the story from the source material may be for the benefit of audiences who didn't grow up in the UK and have no idea of who Guy Fawkes was and what his Gunpowder Plot was all about. The sequence is short but informative. From then on we move on to the start of the main story and here the film adheres close enough to the source material with a few changes to the Evey character (played with skill that more than makes up for her Amidala performances) but not enough to ruin the character. Caught after curfew and accosted by the ruling government's secret police called Fingermen, Evey soon encounters V who saves her not just from imprisonment but rape.
Right from the start the one thing McTeigue and The Wachowski Brothers got dead-on was casting Hugo Weaving as the title character. Voice silky, velvety and sonorous, Weaving infuses V with an otherworldly, theatrical personality. Whether V was speaking phrases from Shakespeare, philosophers or pop culture icons, the voice gave a character who doesn't show his face from behind the enternally-smiling Guy Fawkes mask real life. I'd forgiven the makers of this films for some of the changes they made to the story and some of the characters for keeping V as close to how Moore wrote him. Once V and Evey are thrown in together by the happenstance of that nightly encounter their fates became intertwined. Portman plays the reluctant witness to V's acts of terrorism, murders and destruction in the beginning, but a poignant and emotionally powerful sequence to start the second half of the film soon brings Evey's character not much towards V's way of doing things, but to understanding just why he's doing them. This sequence became the emotional punch of the whole film and is literally lifted word for word from the graphic novel. I heard more than just a few people sobbing in the theater as the scenes and story unfolded.
The rest of the cast seemed like a who's who of the British acting community. From Stephen Rea's stubborn and dogged Chief Inspector Finch whose quest to find V leads him to finding clues about his government's past actions that he'd rather have not found. Then there's Stephen Fry's flamboyant TV show host who becomes Evey's only other ally whose secret longings have been forbidden by the government, but who's awakened by V's actions to go through with his own form of rebellion. Then there's John Hurt as High Chancellor Adam Sutler who's seen chewing up the scenery with his Hitler-like performance through Big Brother video conferences (an ironic bit of casting since John Hurt also played Winston Smith in the film adaptation of the Orwell classic 1984). I really couldn't find any of the supporting players as having done a bad job in their performances. Even Hurt's Sutler may seemed over-the-top to some but his performance just showed how much of a hatemonger Sutler and in the end his Norsefire party really were in order to stay in power.
The story itself, as I mentioned earlier, had had some changes made to it. Some of these changes angered Moore and probably anger his more die-hard fans. I count myself as one of these die-hards, but I know how film adaptations of classic literary works must and need to trim some of the fat from the main body and theme of the story to fully translate onto the silver screen. The Wachowski Brother's screenplay did just that. They trimmed some of the side stories and tertiary characters from the story and concentrated on V, Evey and Inspector Finch's pursuit of both and the truth. This adaptation is much closer to how Peter Jackson adapted The Lord of the Rings. As a fan of Moore I understood why he was unhappy with the changes. But then Moore is also an avowed perfectionist and only a perfect adaptation would do.
Already critics on both sides of the aisle have called V for Vendetta revolutionary, subversive, daring to irresponsible, propagandist. All because the film dares to ask serious questions about the nature and role of violence as a form of dissent. But the granddaddy question the film brings up that has people talking is the question: terrorist or freedom fighter? Is V one or the other or is he both? Make no mistake about it, V for all intents and purposes is a terrorist if one was to use the definition of what a terrorist is. The makers of this film goes to great lenghts to describe throughout the film just how Sutler and his Norsefire (with its iconic Nazi-like symbols and fundamentaist Christian thinking) party rose to power in the UK. Partly due to what seemed like the failed US foreign policy and its subsequent and destructive decline as a superpower and the worldwide panic and fear it began as a result. V for Vendetta also ask just who was to blame for allowing such individuals to rule over them. V has his reasons for killing these powers-that-be, but he also points out that people really should just look in the mirror if they need to know who really was to blame. For it was the population --- whose desire to remain safe and have a semblance of peace --- gave up more and more of their basic liberties and rights for a return to order. If one was to look at the past 100 years they would see that it's happened before. There was the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, Milosevic's Greater Serbia, and the king of the hill of them all being Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Inner Circle.
Another thing about V for Vendetta that will surely talked about alot will be the images used in the film. Not just images and symbols looking so much like Nazi icons, but images from the current events sweeping the globe that has been shown time and time again in the news and written about in magazines and newspapers. The film shows people bound and hooded like prisoners from Abu Ghraib. The reason of the war on terror used time and time again by Sutler to justify why England and its people need him and his group to protect them by any means necessary. V for Vendetta seems like a timely film for our current times. Even with the conclusion of the film finally accomplishing what Guy Fawkes failed to do that night of November 5th some 400 plus years ago, V for Vendetta doesn't give all the answers to all the questions it raises. For some I'm sure this would be something that'll frustrate them. So much of people who go to watch thought-provoking films want their questions answered as clearly as possible and all of them. V for Vendetta doesn't answer them but gives the audience enough information to try and work it out themselves.
In final analysis, V for Vendetta accomplishes in bringing the main themes of Alan Moore's graphic novel to life and even does it well despite some of the changes made. It is a film that is sure to polarize the extreme left and right of the political pundits and commentators. But as a piece of thought-provoking and even as a politically subversive film, V for Vendetta does it job well. It is not a perfect film by any respect, but the story and message it tries to convey in addition to its value as a piece of entertainment mor than makes up for its flaws. V for Vendetta more than continues the current crop of seriously done comic book fillm adaptations (Batman Begins, X2, Sin City, and A History of Violence) but it also shows that Alan Moore's work can be adapted well to the screen when given to the right people. It may not be perfect and it may not make Alan Moore happy, but it comes close and more than makes up for LXG and From Hell.
on August 12, 2006
The brilliant Hugo Weaving excels and Natalie Portman redeems herself (Princess Amidala, anyone?) in this all-too-relevant film. This film deals with many of the issues relevant to politics today and brilliantly skewers many characters who will seem very familiar from current events - politicians who exploit fear, blowhard talk-show hosts etc. Set in England after the demise of the US as a superpower, the film deftly refers to current political events as background to the rise of totalitarianism and ethnic cleansing. The central theme of the film is the trading of civil liberties for security, and the difficulty of undoing such a pact once it has been made.
The film also tackles many ethical issues such as vengeance and torture with what may be for some people uncomfortable conclusions.
Much has been written about Alan Moore (the original author) removing his name from the credits of the film, a decision which was based on the Wachowski Brothers (of Matrix fame) departing from the original text in their efforts to update it. However, the Wachowski's have created a masterpiece that adheres to the spirit of the original book whilst holding up a mirror to contemporary politics. Most importantly, the character of V (dandy, intellectual, mysterious) is largely untampered with.
Unsurprisingly for a film that is based on a comic book/graphic novel, the main characters almost border on archetypes, and this lends an appropriately comic-book feel to the film, and in this respect although it has no animation it has some similarity to films like Sin City.
The plot centers around the interaction of Hugo Weaving as V and Natalie Portman as Evey. Carefully-placed reveals allows us insight into the events that (literally) moulded V's worldview and show his conversion of Evey from timid obedientarian to revolutionary. Of particular note is Hugo Weavings ability to emote from behind a glossy, permanently-grinning mask. The mask (and I am not going to give any spoilers here) is of a character called Guy Fawkes, a would-be revolutionary who long ago was foiled in his attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in England.
Natalie Portman gives a convincing portrayal of the personal journey that Evey is persuaded to undertake, and John Hurt excels as the megalomaniacal Chancellor Sutler. All similarities between Hurt's Sutler and Adolf Hitler are of course completely intentional, as are the ruling party's insignia and oppressive behaviour both of which have definite Third Reich similarities. Hurt's performance would seem over the top if it were not for the fact that we regularly see the same hate-spewing histrionics from political pundits and talking heads. I would guess that Hurt modeled his performance on talk-show hosts every bit as much as the crack-pot dictators of the Second World War. It is no accident that when Hurt addresses the public, or even his political allies in private, he does so over a giant TV monitor.
To call the supporting cast excellent would be an understatement. Of particular note is Rupert Graves' brilliant portrayal of Dominic, the 'Voice Of London', a twisted, hate-filled talking head whose concentration-camp crimes are rewarded by a cushy job spewing vitriol over the airwaves on the government-controlled TV channel, a man so in love with his own persona that he even rants along to recordings of his own shows whilst in the shower. His diatribes are punctuated with catch-phrases such as "I'm a God-fearing Englishman!" and "England Prevails!". Also notable is Stephen Rea's portrayal of the beaten-down Inspector Finch, a man who has risen in the ruling party despite his not-quite-ethnically-pure family background and whose disillusionment with the party enables him to play a defining role in the plans of V and Evey.
Perhaps inevitably, despite providing the catalyst for societal change, V is ultimately consumed by his vengeance.
This film is not afraid to take on issues that many vendors of popular culture would shy away from, and that inevitably will invite criticism. However as the poet Hardy once said "If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst". If you haven't already seen this film, get yourself a copy.
on September 15, 2006
This isn't a review of the actual film (there are plenty of reviews for that). I just wanted to give people an idea of what they're buying with this edition so as to avoid any potential disappointment. The following is an opinionated description of the contents:
The DVD package itself is identical to the two-disc widescreen special edition. Thumbs up.
The lenticular slipcase has three modes (red circle-V, circle-V in flames, movie poster). The lenticular part is pretty cool. However, the dimensions of the slipcase are not ideal. Both the DVD case and the book must be contained inside the slip case to ensure a snug fit and to avoid colapsing the slip case. Not so great.
However, the real sore spot for me is the inclusion of the "64-page 'V for Vendetta' graphic novel". It's not the complete graphic novel, but only the first half or so (spoiler: it ends when V appears in the coroner's / Larkhill doctor's bedroom). This was no mistake since the last page of the books states "to be continued in the 'V for Vendetta' graphic novel". Thus, while the marketing blurb is not an outright lie (had I done my homework, I would have known there was no way the graphic novel would fit in 64 pages, and would have thus avoided disappointment), the marketing is indeed misleading. Stating "Includes the first half of the 'V for Vendetta' graphic novel scaled to the size of a DVD case" would be much more accurate.
I would suggest not going out of your way or spending extra money for this edition over the two-disc special edition, unless you're out to collect an abridged version of the graphic novel. If you're interested in the graphic novel proper, I'm sure you'll know where to start your search.
Cheers, and I hope this helps.
on July 23, 2006
One of the most unexpectedly pleasant movie surprises I've had this year was the Wachowski Brothers' brilliant screen adaptation of the DC Comics graphic novel, V For Vendetta.
It's not often you find yourself somewhat moved by something advertised as a Hollywood popcorn action movie, but V For Vendetta had that exact effect on me. After seeing the movie (twice), I bought the graphic novel and devoured it in about a day.
You see, even if it has been somewhat cleverly dressed up as a Hollywood popcorn movie, V For Vendetta is clearly a movie with a point to make. It's a story that has been told numerous times before (though not nearly enough lately given the times we live in) of the people rising up against an oppressive government. The closest comparison you would find in literature would be something like George Orwell's 1984.
The paradox of V For Vendetta lies in it's hero and central character, the mysterious (and sympathetic) masked terrorist known only as "V," expertly played beneath the mask by Hugo Weaving.
V is something of a cross between the masked serial killers of slasher fare, like Friday the 13th and Halloween, and the avenging angels of Reagan-era action movies like RoboCop and The Terminator. But in between blowing up government buildings to symphonic soundtracks and slicing and dicing his enemies with his ever so trusty knives, V is also something of a renaissance man.
He quotes Shakespeare, lives in a crypt like underground "Shadow Gallery" filled with priceless artifacts banned by the government, and dances alone to the torchy slow jazz songs on his own personal jukebox.
But "V" is no angel.
Make no mistake about it. "V" is a terrorist who has a vendetta with an agenda, which is what makes this such a fascinating film. You see, "V" is a sympathetic terrorist. Remember that scene in the movie "Independence Day" when the aliens blew up the White House? That scene actually had movie audiences cheering in the theatres. When V blows up the British Parliament, you likewise actually find yourself cheering him on, which is no small accomplishment given the post 9/11 era in which we live.
In a not too distant future, America has been destroyed by civil war and England is ruled by the iron fist of High Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt, who ironically played Winston Smith in the film adaptation of Orwell's 1984), with the aid of jackbooted goons called "The Fingermen," headed up by a very nasty guy named Creedy.
As the plot unfolds, it becomes apparent that the rise to power of Sutler, Creedy, and company comes through the exploitation of fear created by a national crisis that, as it turns out, they manufactured themselves. This may all sound quite familiar if you follow the various conspiracy theories floating about on the Internet about 9/11.
Anyway, it turns out that "V" was rounded up with the rest of the minorities, homosexuals, and other undesirables and placed in an internment camp once the goons took over. In the internment camp, some very nasty medical experiments took place which V survived. And now, V is pissed.
After he rescues damsel in distress Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), an employee of the state run propaganda television network, from an attempted rape by a couple of the Fingermen goons, "V" takes her to the rooftops to watch him blow up a government building.
"Do you like music?" V asks Evey in one of this film's several great lines of dialogue as the 1812 Overture blares the soundtrack to the fireworks over loud speakers in the streets.
But V is just getting warmed up.
Turns out "V" has taken a cue from his spiritual mentor, 16th Century Catholic Guy Fawkes (whose mask he wears), and has decided to send a message to his oppressors by blowing up the British Parliament building on November 5th (the anniversary of Fawkes' original attempt to do the same). Leading up to that event, he slices and dices his way through an array of villains ranging from the fascist government's television propaganda mouthpiece to everyone's favorite pedophile Catholic priest.
Meanwhile, with the none too subtle assistance of "V" himself, Evey has her own spiritual and political epiphany and becomes his accomplice.
As I noted above, there are so many great lines of dialogue in this movie. I couldn't begin to note them all, but here are a few of my favorites:
"A revolution without dancing isn't one worth having."
"Beneath this mask lies an idea, and ideas are bulletproof."
And my personal favorite:
"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."
Though cleverly disguised as a popcorn action picture, V For Vendetta is a movie that makes you think. Even as it entertains you by blowing things up and slicing and dicing it's way through all the bad guys (loved the knife trails in the fight scenes), there is a definite statement being made:
The double disc DVD comes with some great extras, too. In addition to a short documentary on the making of the film, there are features on the new wave of comics focusing on the eighties and nineties rise of the graphic novels which spawned V For Vendetta, as well as a history piece on the Guy Fawkes backstory which inspired it.
V For Vendetta is a thinking man's action picture. I loved this movie in the theatres and I loved watching it at home. It comes to your nearest video store August 1.
Until reading other reviews on this site, I wasn't aware that "V for Vendetta" was adapted from a graphic novel, and certainly not aware that the author/illustrator was unhappy with the finished product. This happens so often when Hollywood gets their hands on something, and I'm wondering when they'll learn. While it's true that movies can't be word for word translations of books, nor image by image, they can still be true to the story. The only reason stories (I'm using that as a very broad term) are made into films is because the story invoked passion of some kind in its readers. Too often, Hollywood either doesn't understand what passions were invoked in the reader, how to translate those to film, or dismisses them entirely. However, oftentimes a story is far too complex, contains too many character, too many divergent plot lines, or too many ideas for a proper translation to occur. When that happens, we either find a script that cuts to the core of the story and eliminates anything that isn't absolutely essential to the story. That's where everybody has difficulty. Hollywood and the fans of the story rarely agree on what was left out, what was left in, what was enhanced - what was essential.
It seems, according to reviews here, that the film remained essentially true to its core, and trimmed around the edges. That said, many here disagree vehemently.
That served me fine. I didn't find gaping holes or questions, and never felt that any plot line was hurried. The film presented radical ideas in a magnificent fashion, first through a very unlikely hero (whose creation was, as usual, tragic), and second through the establishment he was fighting against.
"V" was pursuing two things in the film. 1) To bring down the establishment, which had become increasingly totalitarian, and 2) to make those responsible for his creation pay.
Both are radical, subversive, and vigilante in nature. Some have said that "V" is a terrorist, and in a sense, he certainly is. This is no Batman, no Spider-Man, and certainly no Superman. He is not a crusader for good, and possesses his own set of ethics - undoubtedly burned into him in his birth. While I personally can't agree with his tactics, I never found myself rooting against him. The "system" that was in place was a horrid one, and it did need to be brought down - especially by someone who himself had been "brought down" by the system.
The acting is first rate, as are the special effects.
As I noted in the first paragraph, stories are made into film because the story invoked passion of some sort. This film certainly evoked passion in me. It's a terrifying reminder that totalitarian regimes have existed, that some have been created virtually overnight, and how perilously close we are now to slipping backward, instead of forward.
on March 18, 2006
If Ultraviolet is an action flick where you park your brain, V for Vendetta is the movie that makes you engage your brain.
Having never read the graphic novel, I am not aware of the differences, but I can say I will read it soon.
Howeer this was a policital parable, with layer upon layer of allusion and meaning.
However, it is hard to catch on to exactly what parelells to draw. It is clear the paralells to the Nazis, yet, you can feel that somewhere the director and writers were trying to draw to today and the conditions in the USA.
The plot is twisted and layered, but simply put, a virus has struck the world, leaving it chaos. A dictator has pulled England together, and a la' Big Brother, his will is law. There are informers on the streets, surveilence vans and censors on TV. Unfortunately, that isn't too distant from the world both the British and we Americans live in. And that was my major concern. It is clear the creators wanted to comment on our current state, included the color coded states of curfew - much like homeland security's level of alert. But they don't go all the way, they continually draw back on the punch
Hugo Weaving plays the masked V, terrorist/freedom fighter. The only one willing or able to take on the totalitarian state. He does so wearing a Guy Fawlkes mask, and uses the Fifth of November to remind people of two very simple principles:1. those who forfeit freedom for security deserve neither and 2. people should not fear their government, government should fear their people.
Natalie Portman (rediscovering her ability act post Star Wars) is Evey - a woman swept up into V's life.
This movie is rich in historical and literary allusion the way the matrix was rich in philosophical allusion. From the Phantom of the Opera to the Resistance of the White Rose, from Blake to Shakespeare - well that isn't far! For that alone, it is a joy. the scarlet pimpernel, Count of Monte Cristo - the list goes on
The action scenes are beautiful and rich. Beautifully shot and moving at times.
Hugo Weaving gives an amazing performance. He somehow delivers an amazing range of emotions from behind a mask.
1. Hugo Weaving. It is a pity that he will be resoundingly ignored come around award time.
2. Layer after layer of meaning
3. Beautiful Action scenes
4. Great perfomances from a number of supporting cast members
1. Unwillingness to commit to a political statement other than Dictators are Bad. Got that.
2. Natalie Portman - still regaining her acting chops and doing a really muddled english accent
This is a thinkers action movie, if you want simple, blow em up and explain everything in excrutiating detail - this is not your film. You do need to put work in to piece together what happened to the World and to V.
on February 4, 2009
Movie - 4.5
V for Vendetta strikes me as a well-scripted Chex Mix that serves as a superhero, revolutionary, and revenge movie all at once. But what makes the gunpowder treason and plot so interesting is the character of V himself and the circumstances in which his "quest" ultimately reveals a number of poignant observations. Aside from the obvious parallel between he and The Count of Monte Cristo, I particularly find the whole "rebellion against authority" theme to be a refreshing testament to the way certain governments can sometimes be a bit too controlling or ironically naïve for their own good, which in turn can cause said revolution. This is best portrayed through the character of Evey who, along with everyone else, had conformed and obeyed to the whims of a harsh and suffocating dictatorship for so long. And as history (or even science) has proven, for every action, there is indeed an equal and opposite reaction; authority <--> rebellion. But in one of the more unique twists, this revenge and rebellion is all catalyzed under the guise of a Guy Fawkes-masked vindicator whose actions also indeed can fit that of a textbook terrorist. 9/11 undertones are easily apparent when they mention the symbol of a building being destroyed and its ability to change the world for better or worse. I don't know when this graphic novel was written, but apparently the symbolism is justifiably and eerily accurate for what it's worth. I suppose it just depends on which side you're coming from and the amount of subjectivity involved when trying to observe such events. But in the end, I really enjoyed this movie for its extremely good choice in having cast Hugo Weaving as V and Natalie Portman as Evey. The only problems I had were a few pacing issues with the screenplay, that might've been better resolved with either a longer run time or more immersing musical score.
Video - 3.5
Presented in VC-1 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, I took a look at the bitrates (mostly in the high teens and low 20s) and it appears Warner Bros. used the exact same transfer from the previously released HD-DVD (aka the more inferior release). After reading the BD review of Batman Begins, I am now convinced that during the format war, some movies may have unexpectedly gotten the shaft in terms of a faithful transfer/encode. Because of the mere max capacity of 30GBs on a dual-layered HD-DVD, there wasn't as much space for as good a transfer/encode. The result: a few movies not quite meeting up to BD expectations LIKE a Batman Begins, V for Vendetta, and whatever else I might have in my library that was caught up in the war. Needless to say, while the BD presentation here is good, it's probably nowhere near as good as it could be. Colors are vivid, but not as in depth as I've seen in older, albeit newly-encoded, titles. Sharpness is around what you'd expect for an HD presentation, but some scenes looked a tad grainy and fuzzy (and not the good kind, like a Bourne Identity on BD, which by the way was re-encoded and looks great with the higher bitrates). Blacks aren't particularly deep either, which is a shame as it's a pretty dark movie. I'm disappointed, but it's better than DVD anyway...
Audio - 4.0
In addition, this TrueHD 5.1 track also seems to be a direct copy of the HD-DVD's. I don't have any HD-DVDs to compare, but I've heard other Warner Bros. titles with the same option, and they are remarkably more in depth than what we're given on this BD. Most of the film is dialogue and comes through very crisp (not that it should be hard), but the more action-focused scenes were lacking in surround usage. Music (one of the problems I had with the film overall) also seems less immersing than I'd like (where at least Batman Begins had a terrific score). LFEs were pretty good on a couple of scenes, though, such as the first fight where V introduces himself and that very cool montage with the dominoes. It's not quite up to snuff with other BDs having only an average bitrate between 1.6 and 2.1Mbps, but it's better than regular Dolby Digital.
Extras - 3.5
I enjoyed the extras, which consist mostly of behind-the-scenes footage concerning production and writing, but I felt there weren't enough. The one segment making comparisons between V and a terrorist is especially interesting, though they could've offered a little more subjectivity to the ideas and overall concepts of what this could represent in society. All features are in SD.
Overall - 4.0
I really enjoyed this film for its unique twist on the superhero genre -- to essentially portray the hero as a terrorist. Much like its script (which is supremely enunciated by Hugo Weaving), the cast is excellent with a special commendation to John Hurt who basically just talks on a giant TV for most of the film. But regardless, the plot itself touches upon many subtleties about authority, self-will, the power of symbolism, and its ability to withstand the test of time, be it through censorship, controlled viewing, etc. I highly recommend this for the great story. But with only an average A/V transfer thanks to HD-DVD's inferiority and the laziness of Warner Bros. studios to do a proper re-encoding, we fans of V may have to wait for an eventual double dip, along with some of their other catalog titles.
This is a review for "V For Vendetta - Two-Disc Special Edition", to give some information on the extras included with the movie.
This is one of my family's favorite movies. It's exciting and it's stirring. Comic book but complex. Superbly filmed and acted, but then it had an amazing graphic novel to follow. Here's comments from participants in the DVD extras on this 2-disc Special Edition that echo my feelings about "V for Vendetta":
Kevin Phipps, supervising art director: "You don't really know where you are, in terms of time. It's almost as if creativity has stopped." (extra #1)
Daniel McTeigue, director: "I think it's a political thriller, first and foremost. It is in the superhero genre, but it's also a play on that convention." (Special Feature)
John Hurt, who plays Adam Sutler: "The themes are serious. I'm not sure the treatment is as serious as that. But on the other hand, if it was as serious as that, I'm not sure that it would reach the amount of people that it's intended to reach." (Special Feature)
Stephen Fry, who plays Dietrich: "This is a movie about a terrorist. The hero is a terrorist. It's a very good ethical point, because as we all know, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." (Special Feature)
Indeed, though I root for "V", he is not perfect. He wants the populace to stir themselves, stand up for themselves, and take their government back. But not until after he's had his vengeance.
DISC NUMBER ONE:
1. The movie. Spoken languages available are the original English and dubbed French. Subtitles available in English, French and Spanish.
2. Special Feature, 31 minutes: "Freedom Forever! Making V for Vendetta". This feature and extras 1, 2, and 3 were made at the same time. That is, when someone, such as the director, appears in more than one, you can tell that they were filmed at the same time. The extras compliment each other, rather than repeat each other. Interspersed with the interviews are film clips and production clips, too.
Participants include James McTeigue, director, who says, "I was the assistant director on the Matrix films. To live in the Matrix world is to know the graphic novel world."
DISC NUMBER TWO EXTRAS:
1. "Designing the Near Future", 9 minutes. Interesting stuff. The V mask was cast in fiberglass from a clay mold. It took the sculptor several tries. Most of the film was made at the Babelsberg Studio in Berlin. But there were crucial outdoor scenes that had to be filmed in England, such as at the end, where the mass of V's converge on Trafalgar Square on the 5th of November. It took 5 months to set up the 3 nights of filming; about 30 agencies/organizations had to give approval and/or co-ordinate.
2. "Remember Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot", 14 minutes. The history of the original gunpowder plot and how it's grown into an annual celebration in England. One interesting comment is by Sinead Cusack, who plays Delia Surridge. She was born in Dalkey, Ireland, and they have a different view of Guy Fawkes there.
3. "England Prevails: V for Vendetta and The New Wave in Comics", 24 minutes. This is about the comic book, or graphic novel. The camera-shy Alan Moore does not appear, but David Lloyd, who created the graphics for Moore's narrative, appears in several of the extras.
Karen Berger, executive editor of Vertigo, DC's edgier more adult-oriented company says: "V for Vendetta is in a class of its own. It's a brilliant piece of work. It's a commentary on society. At the time it was written, there was absolutely nothing being done like that."
The original comic book was published in black & white in England. Twenty-six issues were created before the publisher folded. Unfortunately, this was before V's story was finished! Both Alan Moore and David Lloyd were subsequently hired by DC comics, who saw the genius, and published a complete version of "V" in color.
4. Cat Power Montage. This is like a song video. Clips of the movie are shown while Cat Powers sings "I Found a Reason", from The Covers Album (2000)
5. Soundtrack album info
6. Theatrical trailer
on March 31, 2006
I would have to liken this experience to that of 'fight club', to some degree. Very pleasant surprise. The previews would have you believe this was going to be another mindless punch up, but riddled amongst the "pow" and "bang" we have a very intricate story about society. Being an avid fan of post-apocalyptic stories, I had read the graphic novel by Alan Moore many years ago. So I was worried what hopeless experience lay before me at the cinemas. But to the credit of the interpreters, this onscreen adaptation was for the most part, well crafted. The ideology, the philosophy, mostly intact.
I am glad the movie doesnt turn this adult world into a childrens story. The action, like the comic book, takes a big back seat.
I dont exactly remember the specifics of the graphic novel but I do recall some differences. The graphic novel was based on a post nuclear world. Not post-viral. And I do recall a monumental ending when Evie was suppose to take V's identity (the mask).
Some key failures
It failed to communicate the necessity of torturing Evie. It only brushed on the idea of 'losing fear'. I remember when I read the comic book, that part was absolutely monumental. It was the soul behind the story. You can not live until you accept death. If you want to detach yourself from the system, you must first break yourself... and learn to accept fate whatever it maybe. Only then can you go forward. Much like a comment I remember in 'Band of Brothers' when before a battle, the captain told his scared soldiers, "only when you realise you are already dead, will you find courage". And much like a person immobolised by fear, paralyzed by a system because they dont want to lose any more than they have... they must first accept 'losing everything' before they can actually learn to free themself.
The second major idea I didnt see much of was the chaos theory. V's method was based on the idea that only choas will bring the right equilibrium.
One area I wasn't to keen seeing was image of him walking out of the fire like some action hero. It wasnt necessary to present V as 'superhuman'... he wasnt greater than man. And that sort of iconic figure only served to reduce the realism of a 'not too distant future'.
In fareness however, I walked away from this movie with some new experiences. The movie was a lot more relatable to current politics. It raises controversial questions (where does revolution end and terrorism start). And if you play close attention to the subtle parallels, it played like a MICHAEL moore story. Propoganda... Code red's... terrorism... bird flu virus. I guess it all depends on how accepting you are of your surroundings.