got to check out V for Vendetta last Sunday and left with my soul quenched. a huge comic head, i have been very pleased with hollywood’s embrace of the genre. Batman Returns, X-Men 1 & 2, Spider-Man 1 & 2, , Sin City and Hellboy stand out as stellar films all on their own merit but the fact that they have succesfully survived the board room of the big studios makes the final product even that better.
on the downside- Fantastic Four was all special effects and no character development. Daredevil brought together a high powered cast, great effects and then bastarized the story. speaking of which, Elektra didnt help matters with bypassing all the great stuff of the worlds deadliest hit-woman and going with all the mystical elements. (the box office reflected this and when you add the low money returns on Catwoman, Aeon Flux and Ultraviolet, Wonder Woman will either save all future comic heroine films or relegate them to development hell.)
nuff of dat, the grapich novel V for Vendetta, written by cult hero Alan Moore and drawn by David Lloyd, documents the terrorist activities of V, a mysterious figure living in the fascist England that resulted from the victory of the axis powers in world war 2. played out over 10 issues, V the comic suffers from a serious shift due to the fact that Moore took a break from the writing but other than that serves as a wonderful example of substance over style. Lloyd’s almost water color renditions add to the surrealism of this world that could very easily be our own and Moore is the master at comic pacing transforming this blow-em-up into a multi layered “who is that masked man?,” police mystery thriller, classic revenge tale, coming of age epic and bold political/mythology statement. in short, you should buy the book.
the movie sticks close but not too close to the source material as it shifts the spotlight to Evie, the innocent bystander who gets drawn into V’s quest for revenge. Natalie Portman hits all the right moves and emerges as a heroine with the grace & tempered strength that her Star Wars character should have had but was denied thanks to weak writing. Hugo Weaving rocks as the masked V, its all voice and body movement here folks and it works great especially in the halls of cinema.
on the production front– kudos to first time director James McTeigue (a pretty high water mark you’ve set there, pal) but the big names on the marqee are Matrix mavens the Wachowski Brothers. this here film just got them there get.out.of.jail.free card for the weak Matrix 2 and disappointing Matrix 3. suffice to say V is not the Matrix 4 and the brothers keep the bullet time antics to a bare minimum.
the bottom line– if you are looking for a fun time at the movies with a lot of explosions, political intrigue, fine writing and a chance to cheer for a terrorist in post 9/11 america: V is for you. it gets a cigar up from che!