Here it is, and much sooner than expected! My promised review of V for Vendetta. Ok, now where to begin...
The beginning, perhaps?
****Warning: may contain traces of spoilers****
I first read V for Vendetta in the later months of last summer; I had got into Alan Moore's work after I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of 'From Hell' (yeah, I know, it's shocking. Bite me.) Early reports of the film adaptation of V for Vendetta weren't looking good, so I wasn't too pleased when I read and loved the book to hear that it wasn't being treated as well as it could have been. The TV teaser trailer was another bone of contention for me when I saw it last week - the shot of Parliament blowing up in the teaser trailer? Giving away the ending much? Still, I wasn't going to let that put me off at least seeing the film, even if I wasn't going to like it. Either way, I was gonna review it
I'd be lying if I said that the film is an exact replica of the graphic novel; unlike the Sin City levels of exact transcript from page to screen, V makes a couple of departures here and there. None of these are overwhelmingly negative, per se - a lot of the subplots and characterisations of the Cabinet had to be cut for timing reasons, but that's a limitation of the medium rather than any real fault of the script writers. To put all of the source material into the film could easily double its length.
There is the addition of a brand new character in the form of Evey's boss, played to perfection by Stephen Fry. They've also made some changes to the character of Evey Hammond, namely by making her cleaner, prettier and a bit more confident. Movie Evey is good looking and has a decent job with the television network; book Evey is a scrawny, underpaid teenage girl who turns to prostitution to support herself, resulting in the scene where she is attacked by undercover policemen and V comes to the rescue. In the film, she's caught for being outside after curfew. True to form, V does come to the rescue, though he introduces himself with the soon to be infamous "I am V" speech, which you're either going to love or hate. I liked it, but be warned that it is slightly cringe-worthy.
V is a wonderful character, it has to be said, and was one of the reasons I enjoyed the graphic novel so much. He may be an anarchist and a murderer, but he's still the perfect gentleman. Hugo Weaving's performance is excellent, even from behind the mask - the motionless features may be disconcerting at first but his voice and gestures are spot on. Even though you know he can (and does) commit some terrible atrocities, he's very easily likeable - it takes some of the film's more graphic moments to remind you that V is, to quote Evey, a monster.
There are some aspects of the film that are very much Americanised, or at least catering to the American audience. Nothing too drastic, for instance there's a prologue to explain the gunpowder plot in case you're not familiar with it which also serves to introduce the theme of the difference between the man and the symbol. The constant use of the word 'b*llocks' seemed to be there just to remind audiences of where they're supposed to be
The fact that V is constantly reffered to as a "terrorist" was slightly upsetting; to be fair, it's true in a way, but it seemed a little too, well, Americanised. This brings us neatly on to the post 9/11 fear culture of today. This is probably the most subtle departure from the original source material - for example, in the film, Muslims are persecuted as well as the homosexuals and anarchists persecuted in the book. The Wachowski brothers do seem to have gone for the glaringly obvious approach rather than Moore's subtle one.
Here I need to question if, after the post 9/11 polish, V for Vendetta is a bad adaptation of an excellent graphic novel. I have to say, no it isn't. Some of the changes made help to bring the story neatly to its conclusion, Stephen fry's character being one of those changes. You may even think that the new setting of the near future, rather than the fictional 1997 Moore intended, makes the film more relevant with todays political climate.
All things considered, I have to say that V for Vendetta is a pleasant surprise. Most reviews I'd heard had warned me against it, and I wasn't expecting greatness - in fact, from my running criticism of the opening minutes I was expecting the exact opposite This may be the only review you read that actively sings the film's praises, but I'd definitely recommend that you go see it to at least have an opnion of it. You never know, you might just find yourself enjoying it
8/10. Yes, I liked it that much.