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Oh dear, oh dear...
on 25 September 2008
As a massive fan of the original Alan Moore/ David Lloyd graphic novel, I had my misgivings about this film from the start. It took about 10 minutes for my fears to be realised, and worse. The opening action sequence sees the eponymous hero, V, kill several policemen (or "Fingermen"), as in the comic, but in the most comical, camp action sequence imagineable. Straight afterwards, V decides to introduce himself with a hysterical speech filled with V words. Not good.
A few minutes later, one of the key elements of the graphic novel was also horribly, foolishly bastardised. V's speech went from a brilliant metaphor to being, well... an uninspired speech, which, in summary, said: "Yes, fascism= bad. Me= good."
From this point, the film continued to tear apart Moore's masterpiece. The entire idea of V being an anarchist was abandoned, as was much of the character's moral ambiguity, in favour of cringe-worthy camp and ill-advised sentimentality.
Natalie Portman was about 10 years too old for the female protagonist, Evey Hammond, and had the most ridiculous "working class" British accent I've ever heard. I can't imagine what she thinks working class Londoners sound like, but they certainly don't sound like her.
Indeed, one of the worst elements of the film was the complete inability by the Wachowskis to comprehend that the graphic novel, and film indeed, are set in Britain. Therefore, it might strike you as unwise that two foreign actors were cast as the two BRITISH protagonists. Indeed, the most prominent Brits in the film were John Hurt, as Adam "Sutler", and Stephen Fry, as Gordon Dietrich.
For those who have not read the graphic novel, Hurt's character has been changed from a complex, sympathetic, weak man (who's insidious actions you could almost understand), into a raving, manic Hitler clone. Indeed, the Wachowskis went so far as to rename the character Adam "Sutler" (Susan, in the original) and give him the title of Chancellor, just to spell out that he was, indeed, a fascist.
As for Fry's character, Gordon Dietrich, his character never even appeared in the comic, and was brought in entirely unnecessarily, replacing another character called Gordon, and filling that character's role very, very loosely. Indeed, Fry's role was so insignificant it was painful, and a comedy sketch that the character takes part in at one point in the film was cringe-worthy, taking away any sense of tension or drama in the most appalling fashion.
Finally, I will complain about the ending, while trying not to spoil everything. Suffice to say, the ending was changed drastically. Not exactly the obvious events, but the ending in the graphic novel has much more impact, and is much more fitting for such a dark piece of work.
I could go on for hours more about how this film bastardised a masterpiece, and how it is a woeful mix of the melodramatic and the positively ludicrous. However, I'll end it here. Instead of wasting your money on the DVD, splash out on the graphic novel. You'll be much more rewarded, I assure you.