Movie Review: V FOR VENDETTAWarner Bros. Pictures
2005
R

“Remember, remember, the Fifth of November…”

It’s a bleak and dark future. America is now known as the “former United States” (what are we called now, Canada? That is chilling), and is torn asunder from wars and epidemics. England, meanwhile, is now under an Orwelian fascist dictatorship, keeping its citizens in line with fear. One night, though, a vigilante madman decked out in a cape and a Guy Fawkes mask begins his work to destroy the fascist regime, and profoundly affect the citizens of England to take back their freedom. Things go boom…

It’s rather hard for me to write this review of the movie right now. See, on the one hand, I absolutely enjoyed this cinematic romp, what with its very stylish sets and complete futuristic dystopian vibe like something out of a George Orwell novel. The character of V was an absolute treat to watch, whether it was taking out key members and institutions of the government, explaining his method to the madness with a theatrical flourish, or merely cooking up an egg. Natalie Portman, I thought, was a good choice for the character of Evey, playing the role very well, I thought. All the other characters, from the villainous party members that V takes out one by one, to the common citizens added much depth to the setting. Very stylish, very nice…

On the other hand, though, I am a staunch fan of Alan Moore’s work. As a matter of fact, I consider V For Vendetta superior to the greater-known Watchmen (though by a very narrow margin). There’s so much more depth to the story in the graphic novel, and much of that was cut for the movie. Yes, I understand that in the process of translating a comic, even a heady and (I’ll just say it) grown up title as V For Vendetta, to the big screen, certain compromises and changes have to be made. For the most part, I think the Wachowski brothers stuck very close to the tone of the comic, as well as making the source material recognizable for those familiar with the comic. There were some very noticeable changes, but for the most part they were to condense everything for the purpose of running time. Really, if they went with a strict panel-by-panel recreation, V For Vendetta would wind-up as either a week-long miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel, or a trilogy (and given the last two of the Matrix series, I’m glad they didn’t go that route). The changes that kind of got to me were the way they thrown in a romantic angle, which may be a tried and true Hollywood device, but I didn’t really think that worked. Simply because it betrays the V character’s motivation. Look, not to get into a geeky comic rant here, but in the TPB Evey tries to get cozy with V, but V don’t play dat. Matter of fact, that was the catalyst that made him decide to abandon Evey temporarily, thereby making her go through the trials that would lead to her eventual breakdown and ultimately understanding what V’s grand scheme is. Here, she still goes through the trials (very effective, and glad they included that dummy), but then it seems V starts falling for Evey, and starts questioning his purpose. That doesn’t jive with me at all. But that’s just me…heartless nurf herder that I am…

All said and done, V For Vendetta is a pretty good dystopian sci-fi drama piece that should appeal to anyone that has no idea what the source is about. Those who are fans of the TPB (like myself) can and will find things to bitch about, but overall, when taken for what it is by itself without all that comparisons, you’ll still get something out of it. Just check your preconceptions at the door, sit back, and enjoy the view. And buildings ‘sploding to the tune of the “1812 Overture”. Can’t get any better than that…

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