Sunday, March 19, 2006

V For Vendetta

Directed by James McTeigue

Screenplay by: Andy and Larry Wachowski

Graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Rating: 6/10

What a mess! What a royal Hollywood mess! But then what can one expect when Hollywood takes a well written Graphic novel written by a Brit and turns it into a movie? With the exception of Sin City Hollywood has completely failed to understand the importance and depth of Graphic novels. Moore's From Hell was not such a bad screen adaptation but the Wachowski brothers have completely messed up Moore’s well written 'V for Vendetta'. I should have headed into the theatre with low expectations really. I mean seeing how the brothers turned their own brilliant Matrix movie into a disaster by making 2 brain dead sequels, how could they really have handled Moore’s intelligent story? This was a story which combined '1984', 'Fahrenheit 451', 'Brave New World' with various works of Literature and comic books and turned it into a grim futuristic tale. The story showed us how a government could use the threat of fear and war to strip its citizens of complete freedom and treat them like brain dead slaves. (Sound familiar? Well as it turns out a certain country is attempting to do that right now). The story was written in 1988 with the bleak future taking place in 1997-98. Considering we are now in 2006, the brothers had to move the timeline and they moved it to 2020. They changed the dialogues to include recent terror attacks in the U.S and U.K to further their story along. Fine, these changed aspects to the story are not that bad. But the problem is the screenplay is so un-inspired and makes for a boring movie. There are forced action sequences included in the story which have nothing to do with the original story. In fact, the final knife fight scenes try to evoke The Matrix sequences with the knife moving in slow motion through the air. The movie completely drops the ball in mentioning that in the bleak future, people are not allowed to read books, watch movies or even enjoy the pleasures of art. And then the token scenes of British people glued to their televisions watching the news unfold seem to be in very poor taste – they are straight out of mindless Hollywood action movies which include shots of a diverse group of people just to show that everyone is affected by the action events.

Another element from the brother's Matrix trilogy is included in this movie – Hugo Weaving. The impressionable voice of Agent Smith gives the voice of 'V' the central character of the movie. Half-way through V.. , it was impossible to not equate his talks with Evey (Natalie Portman’s character) to his speeches to Neo (Keanu Reeves in the Matrix) as his tone was identical. Natalie Portman is quite good in her role but her character is changed slightly from the novel. In the novel, Evey is a desperate 16 year old who is in need for money and tries to sell her body. On her first night, she is caught by the 'Finger Men' and that is when V comes to save her. In the movie, she is a professional who works in TV and is going dressed up for a dinner date when she is caught and encounters V. V manages to use her network Identity card to bypass security on a few occasions. But in the novel, V does not need an Identity card to bypass security – he breaks into the central computer system ('Fate') which controls all the British people and disrupts Britain’s network airwaves. Why was this change included? The argument could be that the change was needed to make the screenplay flow and mesh with the story but in the end, it does not.

But what if someone has not read the novel and sees the movie? Is the movie enjoyable then? On its own, the movie still ends up being a boring mess. The movie is caught in between trying to be a serious political revolution movie and an action Hollywood flick. It can't be both. Very few movies are like the first Matrix movie which combined intelligent ideas with action. There are so many intelligent ideas in V for Vendetta but they are presented in such a dry manner. Why does a movie which has powerful lines like 'You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea' and connects multiple story lines (Guy Fawkes and V, V's personal revenge) end up being so un-inspiring? A movie which asks people to wake up and start a revolution ends up putting one to sleep!

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