Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remember, Remember the 17th of March.

Not wanting to upset people too much, the distributors of the "V for Vendetta" movie rescheduled the release date from the relevant 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes gunpowder and treason plot, to March the 17th, which is about as relevant to anything as a wasp passing wind.
The only way any relevance can be drawn to this film, is on this day in history 2003, Bush Jr. gave Saddam Hussain a 48 hour ultimatum: "leave Iraq, or be attacked", which people might look back on in the future as the beginning of totaliterian opression in the "free" world (in a capitalist society, is anything free?).
But before we get too pretentious, let's review a comic book movie shall we?

Lot's of things have already been said about this movie. It's spiritual father Alan Moore divorced himself from the project, leaving it to grow up to be the little bastard child it is. Fortunately, the metaphorical apple did not fall far from the tree.
The movie is a great comic-book adaptation, because that's all its trying to be. No-one is trying to replace or rewrite the original, that is still perfectly fine sat on its shelf with both author's names displayed prominently on its spine, thank you very much, so we are not going to dissect the inherant differences between the two too much, as most changes are made with the genre swap and fresh audience in mind.

V tries to find a middle ground between political cautionary tale and Wachowski visual feast. The director James McTeigue was an excellent refresher for the tired Wachowski Bros., who avoided "pulling a Lucas" by trying to do both screenplay and directing.
The film is superbly stylish, with the look of V and all attached symbolism used enough to get the message across but never so much that it appears tacky.

The two main actors, Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman are on fire in this film, with Mr Weaving conveying more emotion and expression with a head tilt than most actor's can with their entire array of facial nuances. Hugo Weaving was a 13th hour replacement for the original actor, who is too unconsequential for me too even bother to IMDB, but you'd think Hugo was born to play the role, sans the pomp and granduer most actors would have bought. And, of course, he keeps the fucking mask on.
As one journalist wrote: "Natalie Portman comes dangerously close to acting", which is a lovely back-handed compliment fully expected from the smart-ass critics of the world. Natalie Portman's acting has never been in question, it's her choice in movies I find dubious, with Mars attacks and Star Wars undoing the head-start she got over most Hollywood wannabes from her fine performance in "Leon". As Evey Hammond, Ms. Portman pulled out, in my opinion, the performance of her career.
John Hurt requires a mention here as well, as I am sure he will be overlooked by most people as he is not exactly marketable Hollywood fare these days. A role reversal here as he changes from his victimised protagonist lead in 1984, to the patriachal antagoniser of the piece. Freedom is being able to say 2+2=V.

As mentioned above, the plot differs here and there between the souce material, but never to the detriment of the story. Yes, they whole knife-trail special effect is a little in-your-face, but the entire "V cuts loose, slicey stabby" scene is there for the people in the cinema sat behind you, who utter a bewildered "What?" as response to the verbal alliterations of V. However, the film is set in London which puts it one up on Constantine, and key scenes such as the interogation of Evey are wholesale inclusive, a scene which for many people, will make or break the flick.

The one major complaint I would have: the film was far too well-lit for my liking, the grim and gritty street level filth prevailant in most early Vertigo titles and depicted so well by David Lloyd to showcase Thatcher-era "used London", replaced with an almost Communist starkness.
But that's it for complaints. V for Vendetta is one of my favourite comic-books, and it makes me happy to say its also one of my favourite movies of all time as well. This is a movie made for movie fans, but certainly not at the detriment of comic-book fans.

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