Why V for Vendetta is Awesome

Remember, remember…”

I just want to say before I get into this proper that I’m a big fan of both the comic and the film of V for Vendetta and, while the film seemingly completely misses nearly all themes the comic portrayed, I will write this on the film alone (as I feel it will be more well-known) and keep comparisons between the two to a minimum.

Something that seems to get overlooked about Bonfire Night is that it’s based upon the capture, torture and execution of a religious terrorist known as Guy Fawkes, who, in 1605, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He sought a different way for the country, and wanted to change what was happening to become what he viewed as a better future for England. So, here we are 408 years later and apparently England can hold one hell of a grudge. Both of these sentiments, wanting to change the country through violent means and holding a grudge, are well represented throughout this film.

The plot is a surprisingly in-depth one as comic book movies go and has a lot of back story in it, which is explored throughout the film. The simple premise of the film is thus: a masked man goes on a violent vendetta against the totalitarian government in rule. He does so through murdering prominent government officials and blowing up well-known buildings. He then goes about trying to rally the population behind him in his crusade against this government gone mad with power.

Much of the detail of the story is brand new for the film and works very well (including a new back story for why England is the only healthy nation left). It really fleshes out the characters and their motivations, though some are a little weaker. Though most of the characters ring true and have solid motivations for what they’re doing, some just don’t seem to quite work and do what they do simply to further the plot. For instance, the TV host seems to purposefully throw away his career because… well, just to show the government that he’s not afraid of them. This was not a wise decision on his part. Even Evey Hammond’s (the main character, played by Natalie Portman) motivations seem a little off. She seemingly does things for the sake of doing them and ponders why afterwards.

Luckily, the motivations of the title character V are solid. You really feel he has a right to do what he is doing, and that he’s the most level-headed of nearly all characters in the story. This is odd considering he’s a murderous, revenge-fuelled terrorist. But I guess that’s Hollywood for you: they can even create a hero out of a terrorist.

The costume looks perfect in both stills and motion”

The acting, for the majority, is solid. People that need to look concerned look concerned and people that need to look shocked look shocked. The actors portraying the police are very good as such (some have played policemen in things previously/after V) and the inner circle of Sutler’s government are solid with what they do; which admittedly is some more than others. Creedy is suitably creepy, arrogant and intimidating, and Finch is believable as a troubled detective that questions everything he’s ever known. Hugo Weaving is fantastic as V. Though you never see his face, he acts instead through his voice and body language, which is wonderfully theatrical and perfectly captures the character of V. He’s easily the best portrayal of a character in the film, going from whimsical one moment to threatening and murderous the next. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Natalie Portman was quite right for the character of Evey Hammond, a young girl from London, and the main character of the film. While she’s a good actress, she doesn’t quite pull off the classic English look, attitude or accent she attempts.

The violence and fight scenes are very well choreographed and filmed, with suitable spurts and sprays of blood. The hits actually look like hits and not staged, which is a detail I always appreciate in a film. My only problem with the fight scenes is giving V almost superhuman powers; though I admit my disagreement with this aspect could stem from the comic once more where he is portrayed, more realistically, as an Everyman.

Aside from comic comparisons, my only major complaint with this film is in one of the subplots: the love story between V and Evey. I feel this was very forced and didn’t need to be there at all. For me, it distracts from the story and lessens the impact of Evey’s decision in the end. The motivations behind the decision of a supporter and conspirator who truly believe in a cause are different from the motivations of a person in love with the person performing terrible acts for a cause they believe in. Again, this could be from the transition to film as it’s harder to sympathise with people in film when they are shown to have no emotional attachment to others.

I would thoroughly recommend reading the comic if you enjoyed the film as I believe it to be superior in nearly every way. While not a slight on the film, it simply couldn’t do everything the comic does, nor as well. Think of them as two different tellings of a similar story and you’ll be fine.

One thing the film does have over the comic is that it is very quotable. There are many lines which have become embedded in pop-culture and are very well-written and performed. Even the Guy Fawkes mask has become a staple of pop-culture because of this film.

 “The speech here is brand new and perfectly done. Lots of v’s”

As an aside: as an Englishman, I want it known that English people do not say bollocks as often as is portrayed in this film. It’s very much an Americans take on the source material and English culture.

Till next time, this has been Jubby writing for The Awesome Update.

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