The Rebel Yell
By: Jared Goode and Zac Hestand
From J to Z: 'V for Vendetta'
Move over Ebert and Roeper, The Rebel Yell's Jared Goode and Zac Hestand are giving the thumbs up
Having recently been criticized for being overly "preachy" in my reviews (by the president of Zac's fan club, no doubt—they are a confrontational bunch!) I will attempt to step back with "V for Vendetta" and let the film do its own preaching. And it does.
The film was scripted by Andy and Larry "The Matrix" Wachowski but, luckily, does not contain the overwhelming, oftentimes confusing, brainy verbosity of "The Matrix Reloaded." However, it does have a headiness all its own and is not the action film the trailer may lead you to expect. The action sequences in "V" are relatively minimal, and while alone they prove interesting to witness, slow-motion "Matrix"-style knife fighting just doesn't correlate with the exposition-heavy, talking head tone of the movie.
Through recommendation of my comic aficionado co-worker Barney, I actually read the graphic novel by Alan Moore, most illustrations by David Lloyd, which served as source material for "V." Moore requested to not have his name associated with the production, supposedly because of the oversimplification of the story's hero (or maybe it's because Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was horribly adapted to screen). Despite the author's lack of acclaim for the film, it does an effective job capturing the spirit of the book, lifting a great deal directly from the source material and omitting subplots that would only clutter a two-hour movie.
When "V" was written in the 1980s, it was meant primarily as a criticism of the Margaret Thatcher government in England at the time. The film does its own share of criticism, though the current American administration seems to be the one on trial. Individuals could perceive "V"'s politics as possibly pro-terrorism (which, when going beyond the literal, seems something of a stretch) or simply pro-people (neither of which are terms generally associated with America's leadership at present).
While "V for Vendetta" is slow-paced and coldly mechanical at times, it also brings something fresh to the comic book-turned-movie genre and is not surreptitious about its politics. Natalie Portman delivers a great turn as Evey, our protagonist, and Hugo Weaving does just fine behind the Guy Fawkes mask sported by V. There is nothing individualistic about James McTeigue's technique as director—he is clearly from "The Matrix" school of filmmaking—a style which lends well to futuristic fascist London, but assigns absolutely no directorial signature to McTeigue's debut film.
"V" is a wonderfully realized film, but may also prove a prime target for conservatives on the lookout for an agenda which dissents from their own. And maybe I've been too preachy, but a writer should not be afraid of his critics. The critics should be afraid of the writer.
By: Jared Goode
It is about time that we saw a decent movie, Jared. I am never going to forgive you for having me waste two hours with "Hostel" and other movies of that caliber. Actually, I will forgive; grudges are superfluous.
We are in London, the new world superpower. The United States is in turmoil, and the United Kingdom is now under the Fascist Regime of Adam Sutler (John Hurt). Houses are tapped, curfew is 10 p.m. and any criticism toward the Government can lead to flogging and other such acts.
Evey (Natalie Portman), works for the BTN (British Television Network). Out past curfew, a group of men harass her, and to her aide comes V (Hugo Weaving, a.k.a. Agent Smith from "The Matrix"), a vigilante who wants to end the Sutler regime and restore personal freedoms to the British people.
V dons a mask resembling the face of Guy Fawks, who in 1605 attempted to blow up Parliament; V intends to do the same, in the name of freedom, of course. Will he succeed in his quest? I seriously urge you readers to see this for yourselves.
Though based on a graphic novel, "V for Vendetta" wears a more literary source on its sleeve: George Orwell's "1984." With its totalitarian society, ominous brute force (Thought Police, anyone?) and an individual willing to take it down makes for inspiring entertainment. Orwell would be smiling at V.
This fictional world draws parallels to events going on today. Censorship, oppression and violent rioting are not a thing of the imagination. "V for Vendetta" mirrors what is happening now and as a vision of things to come, much like how "Clockwork Orange" predicted the level of violence among the youth culture when it was published more than 40 years ago.
The Wachowski Brothers, who brought us "The Matrix," adapted "V." These guys know how to create science fiction for the intelligent viewer out there.
This film is a steak, a nice, meaty steak. It's an intelligent and frightening alternative compared to marshmallows like "Hulk" or "Batman and Robin." It has action like these movies, and amazing fight sequences, but what this movie has that these two do not have is a heart and soul. So come, I invite you over for a steak, and who knows, you may want seconds.
By: Zac Hestand