Thursday, March 16, 2006

V for Vendetta

Remember, remember, the 5th of November. Well, at least that was the original premiere date for V for Vendetta. It would also make a cool (gimmicky) date to open the movie, given that the Wachowskis also premiered their previous movie, The Matrix Revolutions, worldwide simultaneously on 5th November back in 2003.

But fast forward to today, where the Revolutions imploded, and much bad blood spilt from Alan Moore, the writer of the graphic novel from which the Wachowskis adapted this movie from, and giving it a fresh perspective and spin (since the original was set in the late 90s). But gone are the high-tech Matrix-y look, and in place is something quite down to earth, a futuristic England, which is now ruled by a fascist regime.

The populace seem cowered living under curfews and corruption, and while they know about the crap the state controlled media is putting out, they do nothing, and of course are powerless, to effect a regime change. Until the emergence of a strange and mysterious freedom fighter, codenamed V (Hugo Weaving), takes to task the waging of a one-man crusade against oppression, and tosses ideas of civil disobedience to the general population.

Along the way, he rescues and gains an unlikely ally in the form of Evey (Natalie Portman), a teenage girl whom he eventually falls for. Which brings an interesting take into the man and his mission, whether he would abandon what he truly believes in, or forge ahead in his mission, everything else being secondary. While we learn of V's grand plans that will affect statehood, we also learn of his personal agenda in seeking revenge - could both purposes coexist, having effects in one, affecting the other?

One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. We look into the creation of V, and take a peek into V's history prior to becoming the warrior he is. It's amazing that the source material, written in the 80s, could be so applicable in today's security environment, that you reap what you sow. It's also chilling that the sentiments echoed in the movie, could be so vividly realistic, that it doesn't matter if a man is gone, so long as he has successfully spread his ideals, and that these ideals naturally have a longer lifespan.

Hugo Weaving, though we don't see his face at all, hidden behind a Guy Fawkes' mask, is fabulous as V. Having only body language and a commanding voice from which to emote, I would say he has created a V which would be placed amongst cinematic (anti)heroes, like Darth Vader, although Vader's made up of 2 persons - one the actor in the suit, the other being James Earl Jones' booming voice to flesh the machine.

Natalie Portman somehow disappointed in her role as Evey, as I found her "finding oneself" theme a little weak. Perhaps too much attention was given to her hair (or lack thereof), though she looked just as stunning without.

I have not completely read the graphic novel, and therefore could not provide you with a page-by-page comparison, suffice to say that what I've read thus far, does not indicate that V for Vendetta the movie is a direct translation from the pages of the graphic novel ala Sin City (which of course, got the writer's endorsement). However, this movie can and indeed does stand alone, so I might put in an addendum after completing my reading.

Be warned that this movie is not meant for teenagers, not that I'm undermining this group, but they seemed to have fallen for the marketing tactics of promoting V for Vendetta as an outright action movie, as seen in the trailers. Fact is, the themes are mature, and those looking for action will be sorely disappointed, not at the quality, but the quantity.

The action are concentrated in the beginning (which has taken a slight deviation with Evey's intent), and at the end, where the awesome knife-fight sequence, widely touted in the trailers, seem to have set a new bar for close quarter combat. It's poetic, bloody and visually stunning, period.

And because of wanting to put more butts on seats, the NC-16 rating here translated to irritating, jarring edits. There's one near the start, where both V and Evey were watching telly, and another after the midway point, which probably was venturing into some lesbian scenes. But what an eyesore those cuts were. No doubt that while the cuts might not have much effect (and I'm speculating here) on the overall storyline, but it sure did spoil the enjoyment.

I'm being a little cheeky here, but I wonder though, how the British might take to the cinematic blowing up of Parliarment. Comments anyone? :-)

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