In my endless quest to keep ahead of tomorrow's news, I got up this morning and went to an early showing of V for Vendetta
. I'm sure many of you have been wringing your hands and saying, "Should I see V
? Will it be any good? I've heard a lot about it, but I don't know what to believe. I wonder what Miss Kitty thinks of it?" Well, wonder no longer. I loved it.
I'd like to divide this review into three parts. First, I'll cover some of the controversy the movie has generated. Then I'll talk about a little of the history, since some people may not be familiar with all of that. Finally, I'll give a quick review and talk about my favorite scenes.
You may or may not be aware that, like Sin City
, V for Vendetta
is based on a rather graphic novel. You have probably heard that the original author, Hideyuki Kikuchi, doesn't have his name anywhere on the movie. I'm not sure why, and when I contacted his agent I was told that Mr. Kikuchi hadn't written anything of the sort. I assume he must be really angry about something, but at least he's been kind enough not to whine incessantly about the film.
Terry Moore, on the other hand, just won't shut up about it. This will come as a surprise to those of you who have met the man. I know I was stunned, since he seemed like a really awesome guy when I met him. Anyhow, he said in one interview that "there are plot holes in this movie big enough to drive a Panhead through. Plot holes NOBODY HAS NOTICED!" It seems that Mr. Moore failed to notice them, too, since he had to think for a minute or two when asked to name one. He finally responded with, "Plot holes... You know, holes in the plot. Yeah. That nobody noticed. Yep. Like... like that one where... people... say things... about... stuff?" I guess he finally sat down and made a list, because he had a list written on notebook paper ready for his next interview. (Why are people interviewing him about V for Vendetta
, anyway?) The page looked something like this:
Plot Holes in That Movie
- Why is it that when the good folks of SG-1 were out of phase, they could walk through walls but not fall through the floor?
- The hat that Will was wearing at the end had been out of style for about a hundred years.
- The sound for John Connor's bike was for a completely different model. Also, he shifted up like fifteen times during that one scene.
- They said they would explain why the watermelon was there, but they never did. Not even in the "Why is the watermelon there?" bonus feature on the DVD.
- If you time how long it took the DeLorean to pass between pairs of street lights, you can calculate its velocity and acceleration. There is no way it could have made it up to 88 mph by the time it needed to be there.
- If everyone speaks Chinese, why don't we ever see anyone from Asia?
- Don't get me started about the costumes and dancing. Had anyone involved ever seen a geisha?
- Why did they cut the scene where Galadriel gave Gimli a gift? It really helped develop his character in the novel. He was just a very short source of humor in the movie.
- If it was only 20 years later, how is it that nobody remembers the Jedi?
- British people don't eat eggs in toast for breakfast! How can this movie be?
- How is it that a blacksmith can learn to fight in 30 seconds?
- If both Zim and Dib became bologna, how is it that they were back to normal in the next episode? You know Gaz would never have helped them.
- Why would a company named FedCo be delivering packages in a place that is obviously not a federal republic?
I think it's safe to say that almost all of these could be applied just as well or better to other films. The FedCo one and the one about eggs and toast for breakfast got me, though. I did a little snooping, and I came across a deleted scene in which Stephen Fry says to the director, "You know, we call this 'toad in the hole' in England. I'm British, you know." The director says, "Do you want us to strap you down and make you watch The Phantom Menace again?" Stephen says, "Eggie in a basket it is." He tried. You can't blame him.
FedCo is presumably based on FedEx, which started in the Federal Republic of Germany. That's where it got the "Fed" part of "FedEx" (the whole thing is short for "Federal Republic Express"). When FedEx went international, the board of directors had to decide what to do about the name. Should it change to InLoFoGoHeEx, for "Insert Local Form of Government Here Express")? No, they decided that sounded pretty stupid. Instead, they went with individual names for individual countries. In the UK, it's known as ConMonEx ("Constitutional Monarchy Express"). Moore is correct. No real British person would ever have heard of FedEx. That's how you can tell that Terry Pratchett, who wrote about Fedex, the messenger of the gods, isn't really British. He's actually Iranian. Still, I don't think this is a terrible problem with the movie. Just accept that there is a large delivery service active in the UK that happens to be based out of the Federal Republic of Germany.
I suspect that a not lot of Americans know who Guy Fawkes really is. They probably think he's the one who is burned in efficacy on Guy Fawkes Night. Ha ha ha. No, he's a guy who was dumb enough to try to blow up Parliament with a truck full of gunpowder on Guy Fawkes Night. I guess his plan was that nobody would think he would be so stupid as to drive up in a big rental truck while wearing a festive mask, flash his real ID, and say, "Gunpowder delivery for Parliament," all on a day coincidentally also named Guy Fawkes and associated in song and legend with gunpowder. Needless to say, the security folks were quite suspicious. I supsect they would have been confused enough even if he had picked a better day and left the mask at home, since the truck was a pretty big anachronism. You might say, "But doesn't Guy Fawkes Night involve burning this nitwit in efficacy?" I'm not sure about that, but think about it. I can imagine people in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and about 99% of the other contries on the globe burning him in efficacy for being a dork, but not the English.
This movie was smart and topical. It gave the Bush and Blair regimes a kick where the sun don't shine. I know this is really something that any decent movie would do, but I think this one was particularly smart. V (played by David Prowse, who does a fine job) is this dude with a mask, hat, and talking parasite in his hand (played ably by Natalie Portman), and he is on a mission to expose political and industrial evil and incompetence to the world. At one point, V challenges the CEO of IBM (Jim Norton) to format a disk. Later, he storms a TV station and airs a video that shows Sutler (played by John Hurt) sitting around in an elementary school classroom as aides try to explain to him that the virus his friends let loose is killing people. Then he goes on to say things (Adral O'Hanlon) about stuff (Frank Kelly).
Despite Moore's criticisms, I think the costumes and makeup were pretty good. V had a nice outfit, and John Hurt's makeup makes him look just like George W., and Dermot Morgan (Crilly, the head of the secret police), looks an awful lot like Dick Cheney.
The acting was really darned good, too, although this shouldn't really be a surprise. This isn't the first time Dermot Morgan has played a character named Crilly, and both John Hurt and Stephen Rea (Finch) had played very similar roles before. Hurt, as you might remember, played Augustus in I, Claudius, and Rea played René Artois in "'Allo 'Allo!" The real surprise was that David Prowse did an absolutely phenotypical job expressing a wide range of emotions and otherwise acting without us ever seeing his face. That man is just amazing.
The scene where V passes the torch is really great. V was all, like, "I say your civilization because as soon as I'm done here it really will become your civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Revolution, Evey, revolution, like the dinosaur. Look out that window. I've had my time. The future is your world, Evey. The future is your time. You blow something up now." I cried.
I'm sure a lot of you will come out of the movie asking, "Would V or Sin City's Marv win if they got into a fight?" Well, I've done some computer simulations and talked to experts. Here's what I've found. On the surface, they look pretty evenly tied. V has one "v" in his name. Marv has one "v" in his name. However, when you look a little deeper, Marv could dismantle the "M" into a pair of backup "v"s, the "A" into one backup "v," and depending on the font, he might be able to do something with the "R." I know that the "A" and "R" won't work if they aren't in caps, but honestly, don't you think Marv is the kind of guy who would forget to turn off the caps lock? On the other hand, V is just so cool that if he said to Marv, "That's one damn fine coat you are wearing," Marv would pretty much have to give it to him.
A few of you will probably wonder how closely this matches up with the novel. Well, there are a few differences. First, V's hat was bigger in the novel. Second, he wasn't as cool. In fact, it seemed like he was always getting beaten up. On one page Natalie Portman was putting the smack down on him. On the next, it was Sean Connery. But it's not always the truly fearsome celebs beating up our man V. No, in one chapter he got the beat down from Larry Niven, Jaleel White, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, and Peter Lorre. Pretty much anyone who is or ever was anyone, plus Cruise and Hilton, took at least a little time to pawnzorate V.