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V FOR VENDETTA Script Review... And It Ain't Pretty!!

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

This guy has obviously read the Wachowskis script for V FOR VENDETTA, the same supposed production draft that I read, and he’s got some serious gripes. Keep in mind, last week’s big hooha in the world of Alan Moore fans was the news that Alan pretty much threw a bitch fit via Rich Johnston’s column and threw some serious aspersions on the project, and on Silver’s conduct as a producer. It’s a well-written piece, and I think many of the complaints he has are serious complaints about the adaptation. I’ve got some issues with it, too, but I think I differ in one major way: I think the Wachowskis are trying to make something that will play as a film, but that evokes the spirit of the graphic novel. The movie is, by design, less complex, less dense. Some of my favorite material from the book is simply gone. It’s a bit of a shock if you read the book and the script in the same 11 hour flight. In the end, I liked the script, and this guy really, really didn’t. I have a feeling there will be a lot of hardcore fans of the book that will echo this reviewer’s complaints when they finally see the movie.

Anyway... check it out:

Hey Harry, figured you might be interested in a review of the V for Vendetta script. I did a review ages back for the abysmal Time Machine and once again bring tidings of muted joy.

V for Vendetta

Written by Larry and Andy Wachowski

2nd Edition

September 22, 2004

166 pages

This is somewhat spoileriffic. Tread lightly.

It simply isn't fair. It is absolutely not fair that the work of someone like Alan Moore is continually abused by hack writers with limited imagination and muted vision. I know we've all decried them already, but let's go through Moore's box office successes, if only for posterity, shall we?

From Hell –

Written by: Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen –

Written by: James Robinson


Written by: Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Capello

Resounding successes aren't they? In all fairness, From Hell, when compared to League looks like a fucking lost work of Shakespeare. Nevermind that Hayes and Yglesias completely gutted (clever, huh?) the original source material and produced a horribly predictable and rather sterile world. It was actually rather peculiar how completely clinical everything in that world appeared, despite all the affected grime and dirt that had been layered on the sets by art directors. The look was certainly black enough, but the film's soul was completely missing. They were unwilling to get anywhere near as black as the comic book had when they adapted it. Not that it needed the extra gore, but the film simply refused to force the audience's nose into the stink and filth of the world, to say nothing of the carnage.

And League. Just a fucking trainwreck. Special effects that looked like they were done on a producer's home computer, an ineffective and generally poorly cast Sean Connery and a storyline that absolutely stands as the pre-eminent definition of "sub par" and "hackish." Even watching it on HBO is tedious. God help everyone who paid to see that fetid pile of shit in the theater.

*Constantine is only an indirect mention, since he created the character, but not the Hellblazer books. The character being turned into an L.A. resident aside (you fanboys always pick on the important details, don't you?), the story was at best competent, at worst another sub-par adaptation that lacked a great deal of the original's spirit. Not great, but competent. Once more, compared to League, it's a work of genius only by virtue of its company. (Sorry, I just hated that film sooooooooooo much.)

All of that aside, what is the binding tie between all three? Besides general lackluster-verging-on-shitty execution, the main connection between all is Alan Moore's request to be removed from the film.

Which brings me to V for Vendetta and the fact that Moore has once again, requested his name be removed from the film. Not only that, but he is severing his ties with DC after delivering his final League book. Now, given that the Wachowski's wrote the screenplay and the Wachowski's certainly possess ample imagination (*cough*), it would make one at least hope that they'd respect someone who possesses a similarly large imagination and recognize the precision thereof.

Or not.

Prime example, as we are introduced to V for the first time in a scene that is taken directly from the book with little deviation up till this point. Those who have read the book know how V first meets Evey, in the dark alley after rescuing her. Here is, word for word, the speech written for V by the Wachowski brothers.

He indicates his mask


"This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vangquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."


Are you like, a crazy-person?

Stop laughing. I still have a review to write.


It's rare that written dialogue angers me, but when I read the first interaction between V and Evey, it made me livid. They had already swept the rug out from underneath the very character that is to carry the entire film. Rather than present him as he is in the book, an exacting and charismatic mind, they first give him the aforementioned speech. Then the event, the very thing that is intended to kick off the entire film, the destruction of Madame Justice and Old Bailey, is prefaced by a misguided and generally retarded approximation by the Wachowski's on what constitutes "charisma." These are the same two people that wrote the heavy-handed monologuing of the Matrix films, so take a guess as to how V is written.

After that point, the character is buying back credibility, not existing as a charismatic and dangerous individual. The destruction of the two landmarks and V's behavior during this is such a hugely negative establishing scene for the character that he never really attains the value that all of the other characters in the film appear to fear him for. This character is not attractive because he conducts Beethoven, conductor's baton and all, while blowing up a landmark. He's attractive because not only are his ideas dangerous, but he has the willingness and confidence to execute them with little or no fear. This does not mean a character who is flippant in their portrayal of detached cool should be written. And yet, that is what we get.

If the Wachowski's could rewrite the first 30-40 pages of the script, they'd have a decent story on their hands, although the script would still need some massive doctoring. Granted, their handling of the passage of a year is paltry and the inter-governmental clawings are glossed over, but the overall structure of the story is preserved. There are no power struggles really alluded to until the very last act of the play where certain character's wife says, out of the blue, "This could be the chance we've been waiting for." Other characters, the Priest and Finch for instance, are brought in to do their one thing to push the story along and never really exist as they do in the book, namely as people living and reacting to the governmental system in place.

Thankfully, the one thing that remains most untouched are the Larkhill moments when Surridge's diary is read and we learn about V's genesis. As written, it is perfect in note and tone to what the original book was trying to do. They make no definite allusions to who V is, make no references to his appearance. Nothing and thank God for it.

Another significant part of the book that remains largely pure is the torture and mind-warp of Evey. It is almost beat-for-beat the same and works so much better without the Wachowksi's editorializing and tinkering. They even leave the letter in. But, once again, provided the audience hasn't gone brain dead from the "V" monologue, the character of V has been pre-emptively sabotaged. The scene doesn't hold the same weight or meaning. Not only that, but the entire conclusion to it is telegraphed with the way Evey is captured to begin with.

The thing that suffers the most, aside from the horrid opening?

Naturally, it is the ending.

And yes, there are huge spoilers ahead. Go away if you want to preserve some semblance of purity when you see it eventually.

Last chance.

As the film is coming to its end, and the riots are taking place, V and Evey are going about executing their final plan. Apparently, at this point in the film the Wachowski's were uncertain of the audience's ability to grasp V as a symbol, as someone representative of each and every citizen of England, so they decide to help them out. Their idea of helping the audience along? Each and every citizen of England that riots is wearing a V mask. Nevermind where these masks have come from (if they're from V, that's simply dumb. If there's some plant in fascist England mass-producing them, that's also dumb), everyone is wearing them and it strikes terror in the hearts of the Bad People.

The script ends about four or five pages before the book does. If you've read it, you know where this is and it is somewhat unsatisfying that the script leaves us with Evey smiling at the camera, but that's where it comes to a shuddering halt.

I'm not at all surprised at Moore's removal. Granted, this is the second draft and there've surely been rewrites (hopefully on the introductory moments with V, especially the monologue), but as it stands the script is not concerned with the ideas Moore had put into play. There is nothing sinister about the government. It isn't subtle and manipulative at all like the graphic novel presented it to be. It is Evil with a capital E, black bags over the head and everything. Pothrero is not the Voice of England, but a screaming voice, devoid of nuance and subtlety, a damning indication of elementary screenwriting by two hacks. He's fucking Fred Phelps, veins bulging and eyes wide. As he is written now, he's a caricature. Not a character. Not the Lewis Pothrero of the book, which is the correct Pothrero, not because it was Moore who wrote him, but because the character of that book was an accurate and critical visualization of a form of propaganda. He is someone people would watch for guidance and support, he would be their voice. The character of the script is a fucking annoyance, someone you'd turn off in a split second only to put an end to his ceaseless bleating. And I don't buy for a second that the moment your society enters into totalitarianism, you settle for bleating. Hitler did not bleat, Mussolini did not bleat, W did not bleat, and the Voice of England should not bleat. But bleat he does.

God, I wanted to love this script. Even after the first 40 pages, when the story finally began to gather momentum, I was cheering for a conclusion that'd dispel the horrible curse that Moore has been suffering under. Up until the V army appears, I was willing to compromise for a very pedestrian adaptation. There are so many sins committed, though, so many horrible characters drawn from the novel that it is almost an alien creation as a result. If I had given birth to a flawed masterpiece such as V for Vendetta in the first place, there would be no way in hell I'd want this mutilated fetus in exchange for it splayed out on the screen for everyone to watch.

If you use this, please let them know that Kurt Hectic sent it in.

Like I said… the guy makes some cogent, well-observed points. I’m still optimistic that the film will be, for the uninitiated, a pretty subversive and challenging ride, and a film that raises many of the important questions that the book did, if not in the exact same way.

I’m really curious to see when they’ll put together a trailer. Could we see one in front of BATMAN? I would if I were DC/Warner Bros. and I were trying to establish my brand. I haven’t heard a peep, though, so I guess we’ll find out next week. In the meantime, thanks, Kurt. Great work.

"Moriarty" out.

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