V for Vendetta (deeper review)

March 27, 2006

Yes, I broke down and saw V for Vendetta this past weekend. Was going to go opening weekend, but had too much stuff going on . So, things got delayed.

So, in general, the movie was pretty good. I might have liked it more if I hadn’t read the original work, most definitely. However, it was pretty good. Everything was well acted, well shot, and decently written. Probably the only real problem is that I think the original work is just so brilliant that it is tough for me to believe that anyone should mess with it, even to make it a work that is more suitable for a typical Hollywood release.

In terms of how well it was adapted, the stuff they got right, they got perfect. The transformation of Evey Hammond, the most important part of the story for me, was spot on perfect. Could not have been better. In fact, as I couldn’t stand Evey prior to her transformation, I think Natalie Portman portrays it better than it was written or drawn in the book. The gasp throughout the theatre was decent for the revelation of where she actually was. The shadow gallery was about as perfect as you could want, including the movie posters, jukebox, etc. I mean, they didn’t take set deisgn from David Lloyd’s sketches, but they certainly didn’t ignore the artifacts within. The scene where V lays out the dominos, was just tremendous.

The Vendetta against the first three ‘victims’, Prothero, the Vicar, and the coroner lady, were rushed. They got most if not all of the details right, but it was very rushed. Chalk it up to having to cram this much material into a 2 hour movie. It’s Hollywood. They did a decent job here, and no real complaints.

The casting was very VERY good. I know who the actors are, and they really captured me to the point where I wasn’t seeing them. And really at no point do you listen to Hugo Weaving as V, and realize it’s him. In other words there’s really no point in which you want to call out, “You know what I really hate about Fascists? The Smell!”

Most of the deviations from the original plot are fine, save for one or two. They had to modernize it. Alan Moore wrote a great graphic novel about motivations and political power and how fascism can take over a country, but the why was complete bullshit (e.g., a nuclear holicaust where England survives), and can only be forgiven because the rest is so good.

Three things they missed big time. First off the message of anarchism as being the next evolutionary step in gonvernmental rule was completely abandoned. Not a trace of it. The message is overthrow the government, but no suggestion at all as to what to put in its place. Just, what we have is bad, let’s remove it. Forgiveable. I mean there is a slight commentary against the current government and the tools they use to run things, but to have a movie that embraces complete anarchy, well, I can understand why they’d think twice on that one.

Second, an over emphasis on what Guy Fawkes tried to do. I mean there is a message about Guy Fawkes, but no one in the book or in history tends to believe that his cause was right and just. I mean, if the gunpowder treason wasn’t on the 5th of November, I’m not sure V would have been running around in a Guy Fawkes mask in the first place. But if I’m wrong about my facts here, please forgive. Been a while since my British history years.

Finally, the relationship between V and Evey is wrong, but actually wrong from V’s side and not Evey’s. Throughout the novel, Evey doesn’t know how to react to V. Is he a father, mentor, lover, leader, maestro, or simply a player playing his part. And that kindof holds true, if not exactly. In the movie, V is truly taken by Evey, almost doesn’t do what he has to do because of his love for her. It really feels like V wants to stay with Evey, but the mission is what matters. This felt wrong to me throughout. Just didn’t ring true. V’s emotions and sexuality were burned away in the fire. He has affection for Evey, but not as a lover, as a friend and mentor.

So anyway, a good enough movie. On the adapted works scale, where Sin City gets a 10 and The Scarlet Letter gets a 0, I’d give it a solid 6.5

Unless you’re in love with the work, or want to give an extra shilling to David Lloyd, no need to see it in the theater.. But definitely rent it when you have a chance.