‘Vendetta’ is one comic adaptation that makes you think
March 16, 2006
What first grabs your attention is the “look” of the picture, and that’s not a bad way to get things going, with the canvass already setting the theme even before anything is outlined. “V for Vendetta” is the latest in a series of DC and Vertigo comic titles to be made into motion pictures (“Batman Begins” and “Constantine” respectively), this one by the Wachowski Brothers’ protégé, first-time director James McTeigue, who was second unit director not just for the “Matrix” trilogy, but also cut his teeth on “Star Wars I & II” (but I’ll forgive him for that).
Both Larry and Andy Wachowski wrote the script, based on the acclaimed graphic novel “V For Vendetta” by Alan Moore (“The Watchmen,” “From Hell”) and illustrator David Lloyd. Originally published by DC Comics as a 10-part series in 1988, “Vendetta” has been one of the more eagerly awaited movies based on a previous work. Moore is considered by many in the field to be one of the finest comic writers of his generation with a vision that has helped expand the art form, the potential of the comic book medium, with his work. Now that story has been brought to the medium of film. In other words, this is one of the best futuristic films in a long time and, like most depictions of the future, isn’t a pretty sight. “Vendetta” rates right up there with the first “Matrix.”
Hugo Weaving (“Lord of the Rings,” “The Matrix”) stars as the man without a face, and Natalie Portman, pulling a Sigourney Weaver thing by having her head shaved for the role, still looks as sexy as ever follicle-free, and is finally in a movie where she can act. Here she plays Evey, a soft-spoken woman who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by the masked vigilante (Weaving) known only as “V.”
A cross between Zorro and Phantom of the Opera in a world resembling George Orwell’s “1984,” this guy sets in motion a revolution that will make you think that the future is happening right now and here in our own world and, yes, even our government. The scenarios are a continent away in Britain, but the parallels unfolding over there, and what Moore based his graphic novel on, will make you question just who is the good guy? In fact, what’s freaky here is that the bombings that took place by terrorists in London last year delayed the release of this movie this past November. Here, though, the oppression in the future is placed squarely upon those in higher office, where corruption has become the decision-making process.
Symbolism abounds here, and the movie is rather complex in an intellectual way that encompasses a complicated plot, revenge in part as a motivation (gotta have that as a driving force) and the reasoning as to why all of this is happening now.
Even the demure Evey soon becomes an ally of sorts to the menacing “V” once she discovers the truth about not just him, but the truth that eluded her and then slowly becomes “real” in a society destined to remain anything but free and just. Portman’s English accent isn’t the best at times, but far superior to that of Kevin Costner in his “Robin Hood” days.
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It’s rather scary and disturbing to see the masses that are complacent, leaving the decisions of what is right in the hands of a few. In many ways you can draw similarities throughout time, most recently in Germany during World War II. The masses didn’t seem to mind, or just looked the other way, so long as their way of life was a fruitful one. The government-controlled airwaves in “Vendetta” could just as easily have been the same propaganda machine from 1930s Nazi Germany, where Joseph Goebbels dictated what was allowed to be broadcast over the airwaves.
But then, to many, the mysterious “V” is himself a terrorist, so you begin to question on which side of the fence you want to stand. I mean, he incites those to stand up against their own government, so who, in fact, is the freedom fighter verses terrorist here? The one with more charisma? Man, I love a movie that makes you think these things out in your own mind, and also wonder if you made the correct choices, like when you had buyer’s remorse based on the last presidential election. Ooh, a nerve was touched. …
As a fan of the comic book series, this is a must-see, and even if you’re not an avid fan, this will stir up some of those counter-culture revolutionary feelings you may have felt in college, before settling down into the norm of society with other matters that seem more pertinent than those here of the future. I predict that “V for Vendetta” will be a cult favorite on a limited level, but I’m hoping a good word-of-mouth will excite enough people to keep it in the theaters for more than a few weeks.
The movie has a fine supporting cast that includes thespians Stephen Rea, Rupert Graves and John Hurt. But the backdrop itself serves as the best character all its own.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8 and weekends on KMTN television here in South Lake Tahoe.