Released in the 1980s, V For Vendetta is arguably one of Alan Moore’s most prolific work from his distinguished comic writer career. A multi-layered, complex, and incredibly effective story, V For Vendetta gave readers a challenging and rather pointed look at the times we lived in. And now, twenty years later, V For Vendetta made a splash on the big screen in 2006, garnering a mix of positive and mixed reviews. As one could expect, the film was altered from the source material, jettisoning whole parts of the book and adding changes here and there, resulting in an updated take on the Moore’s story. Now, did it work? Well, let’s get the synopsis out of the way and go from there.
The story starts when a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked vigilante (Hugo Weaving) known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he detonates two London landmarks and takes over the government-controlled airwaves, urging his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself — and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plot to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel V For Vendetta by Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) and illustrator David Lloyd.
I suppose, for the most part, it did work. Now, it’s not exactly page for page what the book was, but it is a faithful adaptation, to a point. Many things were altered, as the anarchist message and drug use was toned down or dropped considerably, and the political message was changed to have more relevance today’s audience. I guess, in a pessimistic way, one could say that the movie was dumbed down for today’s audience, that the source material is just too complex for today’s average moviegoer to understand. Maybe the filmmakers just don’t give the regular moviegoer the benefit of the doubt when it comes to tackling complicated matters. On the other hand, the world has changed considerably in twenty years and, perhaps, alot of what the book represented no longer holds merit.
The good thing about this movie is the debate it can undoubtedly spawn, based on its adaptation from one format to another, and what was lost and what was retained, and whether or not it remains as powerful a story as it was. Whether or not you’ve read the comic, the anchor for this movie is Evey, played by Natalie Portman. While, overall, this is movie is about so much more, the character of Evey is brought to the forefront and we follow her as she meets V, and the trails and tribulations that follow. Her character is independent and strong-willed, and drives a good chunk of the story. She’s a character who’s wholly believe-able and completely compelling, a perfect counter for V, especially during their more intimate moments where the two spend time simply talking to each other. There’s a completely absurd scene involving V in an apron, a scene that’s Evey’s bewildered look completely sells, keeping it from appearing absolutely ridiculous. Hugo Weaving is, of course, amazing in his role of V. While we may never see his voice, his voice and his delivery create his character better than he likely could have ever anticipated.
I suppose the main question those may have about this movie, the few who have yet to see this movie, is whether the directing is solid and if this is a good take on the comic from which it is based upon. Personally, I can say “yes” to both. The story has been changed somewhat, including a revised ending which caused some controversy among the fanboys early on, but it works. Yes, it’s not a direct adaptation, and portions of the story have been excised, and some changed have been made to V’s character, as they leave the majority of vagueness and open interpretation out of the movie and deliver some rather straight answers. Still, considering what was left, and how it works, it’s a solid movie, and a very enjoyable one. And yes, the action sequences are beefed up some too, but that’s a given since this is a Wachowski-produced movie. And the directing does an admirable job at following the action and making everything basically work. The director does manage to bring everything together quite nicely.
Overall, V For Vendetta is a great movie, and is a bit smarter than most action movies in this day and age, and all of that comes from the source material from which it’s based. Portman and Weaving are compelling leads for the movie, making it easy for us to follow them and just be taken on this rather fascinating journey. I won’t say it’s a flawless adaptation of the source material, but, overall, it’s just a great movie and one that both action fans and fans of the book should enjoy (as long as you can get past the changes made to the source material). V For Vendetta comes Highly Recommended and really should belong in any action-lover or comic fans’ library.
Released earlier this year, V For Vendetta holds up incredibly well on Blu-ray. The movie comes in the standard Blu-ray packaging, with a transparent blue clamshell case and an insert. As one can expect, the audio and video for this release look great. Warner Home Video has provided a 2.39:1 VC-1 compressed 1080p transfer for the release and it looks quite stunning. Everything is as it should look, especially with the inventive color palette and rich blacks we’ve come to expect from this movie. The audio is also really good, not great, with a 5.1 lossless audio transfer. While the audio is an obvious ungrade from the uneven one provided on the DVD release, there’s still a bit of quiet dialogue buried under music and effects. Still, remarkably better than the DVD release.
As for the extras, well, there’s quite a bunch! First up is the major addition to the Blu-ray release, which is the “In-Movie Experience” extra. It’s basically a picture-in-picture commentary, but one that’s thoroughly engaging. Featuring McTeigue, Portman, Weaving, and other members of the cast and crew, they manage to actually talk about the movie and its themes and mostly avoids the standard long pauses and fluff talk that can clutter up a commentary. A great track to list to. After that we get the “Designing the Near Future” featurette, providing a look at how the film’s look was created and designs. Really engaging and very solid stuff. After that we get an interesting featurette on the history of Guy Fawkes with “Remember, Remember – Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.” After that is the “Freedom! Forever! Making V for Vendetta, which is a standard press featurette, providing a very light and fluffy look at the movie’s production. After that is excellent, albeit too short, “England Prevails! V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics, which looks into the success of English writers in the comic book medium and how they changed the medium itself. The featurette branches out and takes a look at multiple titles, not just V For Vendetta, though that title is the main focus.
The disc is rounded off with Natalie Portman’s hilarious Digital Short from Saturday Night Live, which, even though it’s nearly three years old, I will never get tired of it. After words is a music video by Cat Power for a song featured in the movie. The movie’s full-length trailer wraps everything up. A solid, solid collection of extras.
Overall, V For Vendetta was a must-buy for me when it hit DVD and now that it has finally hit Blu-ray, it’s a purchase I can not pass up. It’s a fun enjoyable movie that does pay tribute to the comic book, despite the changes that needed to be made. The action is particularly strong, especially from Weaving and Portman, who hold there own in this multi-layered and engaging film. While I realize this movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a strong movie that belongs in everyone’s Blu-ray collection. Definitely worth the upgrade, V For Vendetta comes Highly Recommended.
V For Vendetta is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.