Friday, March 31, 2006

V for Vendetta is very vexatious

I went along to see ‘V for Vendetta’ last night with my friend Fritz. This is in keeping with my sad sci-fi fanboy side discussed yesterday. I read Alan Moore’s comic strip when it originally ran in black and white in ‘Warrior’ magazine, way back in the mid-eighties. I was bereft when ‘Warrior’ died and the story was left hanging unresolved. When it was picked up by DC and ran to its conclusion, I was hooked. So you can imagine that I was unnaturally keen to see the film.

I wish I hadn’t bothered.


Fritz and I were left almost open-mouthed with the shock of how truly dreadful this cinematic experience was. I think the most generous thing either of us could say was that there was a good movie hidden in there somewhere, but it was wearing extremely good camouflage.

The weird thing was that it was so bad with the amount of elements that did come straight from the cartoon strip, including Valerie’s letter almost verbatim. The best bits were when the film did stick to the cartoon strip’s script.

But these bits were in too short a supply. Evey is no longer a woman driven by hunger to work as a prostitute. She's on her way to a date with a lovely cuddly later-revealed-to-be-gay man (played by Stephen Fry). The ideology of anarchy espoused by V in the graphic novel is removed, as are numerous other elements.

I suppose the idea of a terrorist in a wig and Guy Fawkes mask always ran the risk of being preposterous on celluloid. But it wasn’t the premise that had people in the cinema giggling. It was the often clunky dialogue and the plot holes. Not to mention the heavy-handed cross-cutting.

An example of this was the point where Evey is ‘reborn’ in the rain. This is cross-cut with V emerging from his cell at Larkhill amid flames – roaring like a muscle-bound Frankenstein’s monster. The edit was obviously necessary in case we missed the point.

Another irritation was product placement. The JVC plasma screens everywhere were a bit at odds with the British white supremacist regime. Mind you, I suppose Hitler allied himself with the Japanese, so why not this future fascist government?

Having loved the comic, I suppose I am open to the charge of comparing it with the film unfairly. But I think, if anything, I’d have enjoyed it less if I didn’t have the bits of Moore’s writing to hang onto. It’s just a crock of shit. Or, as V may say, a vertiginous vat of venal vapidity.

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