Hey folks, Harry here with a pair of less than enthusiastic reviews. What? The brilliant V FOR VENDETTA disparaged on AICN? Well, honestly I really do feel this is a brilliant comic book adaptation, and can't imagine being nitpicky about differences in the book, when the vast majority is in place. For example, the 2nd reviewer apparently hated the opening monologue from V - which honestly I began applauding during as I felt it was one of the most amazing displays of oral diction and tongue twister acrobatics... I just couldn't believe that he got it out. I'm holding my review till I see a second screening at this year's SXSW film festival, just because I want to see it in a different setting from the last film at BUTT-NUMB-A-THON, but perhaps you folks need these calming reviews... perhaps not. See - I'm that guy that absolutely loves Kubrick's THE SHINING and Stephen King's THE SHINING. (and I hate the TV one) To me, the changes here are fantastic and I love them. These two disagree and so may you.
Might remember me from AICN chat. I'm the bitter, angry, yet hilarious one that has practically everyone on ignore.
Currently on my last night in Berlin suffering from a stinking cold brought by on too much alcohol and the crazy nightlife here....so bear in mind the gunk I'm about to give you comes from a snotty nose and serious memory loss.
Saw you'd posted a review of V for Vendetta from the premiere here at the Berlinale and although I had to catch it at a smaller venue some way out from the centre (the Urania cinema for those Plantist partisans) I thought I'd send in my thoughts. I'll make it short to curb that which is already ramble.
Now I'm a huge fan of the Alan Moore source and have rather Sickeningly allowed myself to get caught up in the internet hype surrounding this film: thought the trailers were fantastic; the poster work imaginative and the reviews from BNAT promising. Now just before I left (yes, I'm rambling, blah, I have snot running down my nose and I can hear drinking in the hostel bar what seems like miles beneath me so deal with it) AICN's, own Moriarty suggested I calm down a little to avoid disappointment......
Alas Mr Moriarty, it was too late and I am now suffering even more than I should be.
V for Vendetta is not a fantastic film. It's not going to make you poo little Che's to start a revolution with. It's a flawed clumsy superhero film masquerading as some arthouse polemic. It's almost impossible to not talk about the Moore book when explaining why this is such an uneven film and so apologies for people who can't read or have an imagination.
In the opening the The Wachowski brothers have almost written a dual origin story for the masked freedom fighter 'V' incorporating Guy Fawkes that just seems to reek of heavy handedness. What fascinated me about V was that he seemed still a cipher even after parts of his origin were revealed. Here we are spiked in the face with allusions to the 5th of November and the Gunpowder Plot whether figuratively or in dialogue form.
Strangely enough what follows the opening is a rather brilliant scene surrounding a tv broadcast, juxtaposing V and Natalie Portman's character Evey laying out some of the background to the story concisely and cinematically. Each edit reinforces their connection and this is repeated later in the film. It's subtle, artistic and sucks you in. But this concise and well paced cinema isn't maintained throughout the film. What's worse it jumps back and forth, mixing this subtlety with moments that lay on the Wachowski's message of dehumanisation by corrupt powers so thickly that the narrative falters.
It's certainly a brave move by the studio and it's interesting to see how accomplished a work it is from the hands of a first time director, but it's interesting to note that the moments that completely worked and exhilarated at times were those taken almost word for word from the book. Evey's incarceration, the Valerie correspondence and the Larkhill diary, all fantastic to see onscreen and one moment slightly changed from the book, parelleling Evey's and V's awakening, one in the rain, and one surrounded by fire, as a truly stirring score by Dario Marianelli plays is fantastic.
Hugo Weaving and Stephen Fry stand out in a cast of memorable and strong peformances. Weaving doing incredible work to emote behind the porcelain, the voice both chilling and avuncular in turn. It's thanks to Weaving that an almost hideous monologue from V doesn't ruin the character from the off. It's a nuanced performance that has to delight in language and it's fortunate that we have such a charasmatic performer to do it. Fry in a supporting role rather saddled with exposition, is great too, providing some nice moments of comedy along with one of the more shocking moments of the film. Portman on the other hand gives us a performance much like the film. Moments of such power where you almost forget it was performance, crossed with scenes of almost uncomfortable and wooden dialogue. Again, I'm not a huge fan of the script so this could just be that, but there was something about her accent at times that just didn't seem to work.
I think where the film really unfolds and possibly tarnishes the overall film for me is the ending. Every film needs a decent ending to stand any chance with an audience. And with Vendetta it's almost as if the Wachowskis felt like they were losing some illusory argument, and stamped on the gas. The moments of subtle metaphor or image start to lose out to the exposition and the heavy hand and where one we'd had punchy, relevant action, we now have bullet time, blood fests that might be trying to show the speed of 'V', but leave him as some omnipotent superhero in a black cape.
In fact this sudden turn into hyper fantasy seems to be confirmed in the final moments as hundreds of little Vs flood the screen. It's almost as if the Brothers had forgotten 'V's own dialogue only moments before. As V asks Evey to pull the switch on the train that will destroy Parliament he proclaims that it is she and those outside that will mould the world after that night, not he. And yet it is V who has moulded everyone outside in his own image. It is this clumsy, inconsistent tone that ultimately leaves the film a fading ember rather than a spark to ignite debate.
Anyway that's it. I'm off to do an absinthe shot and snort a bockwurst. Can I recommend Watergate if you like clubbing and AM to PM if you don't.
If you post this guys call me DannyOcean01
and here's a slightly negative one that I completely disagree with, but to each their own...
My own (slightly negative) take on V from a Brit who flew to Berlin to see the movie yesterday.
If you use it call me 'Powder'
I went to Berlin specially yesterday and took in the late night showing. From the start I need you to understand a few things...
a - I'm not that keen on the Ws
b - I have been very sceptical in the past about this film, but recent reviews got me so excited that I was beginning to believe the hype.
c - I absolutely love the source material - I started reading V way back when it was first published in Warrior magazine, with a few years' wait in the middle when DC finished the story. I own some of the original artwork. I'm a big fan.
In that sense it is difficult for me to be objective about the film V for Vendetta. It is nowhere near as good as the graphic novel - the film uses many of the same key points in the plot to drive it forward but they don't hold together in the way that Moore intended. V's takeover of the TV station happens far earlier in the film than the GN, acting as a setup for the rest of the plot. Evey's initial motivations are to escape V's clutches, and this sets up her subsequent capture.
I couldn't help but feel some major opportunities for drama were missed. Nobody explains V's escape from Larkhill - there was simply an explosion. At this point V lets out a Darth Vader-like howl which is massively out of keeping, and simply serves as a device to juxtapose against Evey's transformation later in the film. Delia doesn't take the chance to look at V's face one last time. When Evey is finally released from her prison it's almost anti climactic, such is the poor delivery of the 'guard's' lines.
Let me say what's good about the picture:
- The Evey torture montage and subsequent Valerie letter - very effective and memorable
- The Creedy fight at the end - can't believe I'm saying this but I like knife-time!!
- The St Mary's plotline (i will say nothing about this) is an interesting extension to the larkhill test plot but is unnecessary.
- The detruction of Westminster is wonderful to behold
- The pacing of the film keeps up the interest from start to finish and moves it along snappily.
- Even if it's not as good as the GN it will still make you think. And maybe some people will read the GN as a result.
and the bad...
- Attempts at levity - V in an apron cooking eggs!!
- The V army - why change a classic and necessary ending? Admittedly it's not as bad as it sounds but why do it in the first place?
- No Fate. I miss Fate. Fate helps explains V's ability to access security cameras, the postal service etc. It's also used to explore Susan's psyche as he breaks down towars the end. There's no Fate in this picture - just a psychotic 'Sutler' (shockingly bad name change in my opinion). Sutler's character has no arc in this film - he's just a nutcase from the outset.
- Prothero's death - I wish the train sequence had stayed in.
- The build up to the climax is skipped over. It demands more explanation. Anarchy's only mention is by some badly-realised British thug laughing 'it's anarchy in the UK innit?'as he robs a shop in a V mask
- Do Americans believe that everyone in England has an upper class toff accent? Only Stephen Rea gets out with any distinction there. Evey is at times cockney and at times royalty.
- The V speech at the start - just a shopping list of words beginning with V. It's only there so Evey can say 'Are you one of those crazy people?' and raise a laugh. No need for it when the original text was so much better.
..and that's why I have a problem with the film. The original text was so much better and had so much more dramatic impact. At one point in the film V announces 'Penny for the guy' as he kills a Fingerman as if it's some kind of Schwarzenneger punchline. Where the opportunity arises in the film for a quality line ('I didn't put you in prison Evey, i just showed you the bars') it is missed.
So there you go. It's an interesting film that I'm glad I've seen. I'm far too close to the original to be objective, and couldn't help but compare the two while I watched. I'm really interested to see reviews from people who've never read the story - my guess is that people will split into two camps - those who loved it and read some meaning into it, and those who found it faintly ridiculous. There are many more good and bad points to the film that I simply can't remember right now (writing this from work) and I don't want to put anyone off seeing it.
But once you have seen it - go and buy the graphic novel to see how it should have been done.