V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta movie poster

It might seem like I am following the Joe model on Scooby Speak; blowing my load of content all at once and taking a rest instead of pacing myself with a steady stream. That’s not the case. I am in fact trying to make up for a couple weeks earlier in May when I didn’t post much of anything. Unfortunately, I am doing so with content that is basically stale before it hits the blogosphere since these movies are long gone from the local plex.

At least with V for Vendetta, I have good reason to have not posted earlier on it. After taking in the movie, I decided I wanted to read the graphic novel so that I might understand why Alan Moore wanted his name removed from the movie, per his usual M.O. So, it took me a while to finally remember to pick up the GN and then about a week to finally get thru it, not that the reading was slow mind you. Anyway, I completed that a couple weeks ago and now I am finally ready to write this.

V for Vendetta should be out on DVD this Fall. Netflix it or borrow it from me because I will be buying this one. I really enjoyed it. Make it a two-fer and borrow the GN at the same time because it is also a good read. I wish I had the chance to read it before I took in the flick. I had that notion at one point, but it was fleeting.

Anyway, the short answer is Moore should have no issue with the movie adaptation. At worst the Wachowski Brothers added some Matrix style action to the story. V had the daggers, but they were rarely drawn during the GN. V would instead prefer to blow more things up, including people. In fact, the first fight scene in an alley, when V meets Evey, has V slicing and dicing thru the Fingermen in the movie. In the GN, he instead uses smoke and a small bomb to kill one Fingerman and steal away Evey under cover of the smoke screen. We were also spared a V-laced alliterative orgasm of a speech that made little sense to me in the film.

Larger changes from the GN were Evey not being a first-time prostitute at the start, when the Fingermen corner her, and Gordon becoming a much larger character. Other than those, there were subplots left out and V’s bombings happen in a different order. So, basically, the film trimmed out some fat and upped the action a bit. No big deal here.

To be honest, the film updates were warranted because a lot has happened between now and 1981 when Moore started writing V for Vendetta (he finished nearly eight years later according to the Foreword). As I said, the GN is a good read and stands on its own, but for the rest of this post, I am going to focus on the film.

So, the first thing to note is that V is played by Hugo Weaving, although not in all scenes I guess, but nevertheless, I didn’t even realize this until the credits rolled. You know Weaving as Agent Smith from the Matrix trilogy or Elrond from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Given you never see the man’s face, I have to say he gave a great performance based on body movement and voice. Natalie Portman made for a good Evey I suppose. I guess if you take the step of shaving your head, you put your all into it. I hadn’t seen Stephen Rea in any other movie despite a lengthy filmography, yes I haven’t seen The Crying Game, but I thought he brought a lot to the role of Inspector Finch.

Performances aside, the added action sequences were well done. The opening Fingermen fight and the ending Creedy fight were very well done from the perspective that it was a small evolution of something you’d see in a Matrix flick.

I didn’t think the overall story was well handled though. I know it can’t get as much attention as the GN, but you were never presented with why the Fingermen were so named and I never fully understood how the government came to power and why. The departments that supported government control were all named and represented by the five senses and named: The Eyes, The Nose, The Voice, etc. The government in the film appeared to be more of a theocracy rather than fascist.

I guess I am getting back into comparisons again, but these were questions I had coming out of the theater that the GN answered, although as I said, these kinds of missing details certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film. Much like the way X-Men: The Last Stand is still a good film even though it changes around the original Dark Phoenix storyline upon which it is based, so is V for Vendetta. You don’t have to present the comic on the screen panel by panel like Sin City in order for it to be a good adaptation. I suppose that’s part of the definition of adaptation and it is too bad Moore doesn’t see this.

Anyway, that’s all I got. It’s been a while and maybe more will come back to me about it once I have watched the DVD.

When I picked up the V for Vendetta graphic novel, I took the opportunity to also purchase the Watchmen trade paperback (I guess technically V for Vendetta is also a TPB and not a GN). This is probably Moore’s most famous work and I think it will be adapted to film at some point in the future also, not that Moore will approve. If it does see the silver screen, at least I will have the advantage of having read it first.