Jade's Trick

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Friday, March 17, 2006

"Are you some sort of crazy person?"

So yeah, I’m briefly coming out of blogger retirement only because this movie rocks so hard and I got to see the first mainstream showing of it. So don’t expect me to return to once-weekly.

Remember, remember,
that small, waiting ember
that flared up the moment V fought.
I see a reason
for V’s so-called treason
to ever and always be taught.

Oh yes, I’m talking about V for Vendetta, “that thing with the guy with the creepy mask, and Big Ben blows up, and isn’t Natalie Portman in that too?” That one. The dystopia SF subgenre isn’t exactly lacking in masterpieces, but V goes once more to the breach anyway, and succeeds. Ok, so yes it’s kinda a soapbox in parts, and yes it’s obviously got its finger pointed at certain specific current events, but it would be a mistake to deprive yourself of this shining gem just because it chose to focus on something conveniently contemporary.

Quick plot summary: England has become a tightly fascist state ever since a terrible biological attack killed over 100,000 people some years ago. Now, a certain man who gives us only his Christian name, V, happens to hold the opinion that fascism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so he sets into action events which he hopes will bring about the downfall of the system (but you’ll have to watch the movie to see if he succeeds. No spoilers here!). Oh, and Natalie Portman’s in there too.

Now to the good stuff. V was adapted from the Alan Moore book surprisingly titled V for Vendetta. Now, I’ve conscientiously avoided reading this book precisely because I wanted to be able to evaluate the film objectively, but the rabid fangirls I saw the movie with approved of the changes made, so all you V fans have nothing to fear (except for the onset of fascism, of course). And as you can probably tell, I thought the movie by itself was rather fetching, so all you fellow comic book virgins out there presumably won’t have a hollow experience either.

V has this nearly supernatural ability to tell a very start-and-stop story while still maintaining violin-string suspense from the first time you hear Natalie Portman’s sorry attempt at an English accent to the fading-away of the climactic fireworks. Better still, this plot schema leaves you with next-to-no idea of where things are moving next, just the assurance that they are moving, and dropping just enough hints to keep things lucid. Leave your contacts at home, my friends, and expect to spend two hours and twelve minutes without blinking.

With only a very few exceptions, this movie does drama right. That continuous suspense I mentioned owes itself in large part to the way the film makes every little moment so compelling. Each interaction, every moment between, really, anyone and anyone just exudes this magnetic aura that latches onto you and belligerently refuses to let go. The moments that lack that intensity, and they are few and far between, are strategically placed to give the audience that split second above water to gasp in a mouthful of air.

Acting. Hugo Weaving. Need I say more? Well, no, not really, but I’m not paid to throw sentence fragments at you (shut up). Hugo Weaving plays V, and consequently spends the whole movie behind a Guy Fawkes mask, which you might think would tend to stifle his ability to convey emotion and act, an obstacle exacerbated by the mostly consistent tenor of voice that V uses throughout most of the movie, but you would be wrong. It’s frightening to think of how monstrously well Hugo Weaving fills out V through really little more than the tiniest movements of his head and the most subtle tweaks of his voice. V wants to transcend his humanity and become an idea, but through even this, Weaving manages to pull off making him a veritably vibrant human, giving and receiving compassion with flaws and perfections all his own. V is real. The other actors all do exemplary jobs as well, and I can think of no real sour spots amongst the cast. Natalie Portman pulled a stellar turn as Evey, although I can’t say that she was superlative; no major problems, but a few scenes were a little iffy, and her English accent… well, they should have just done without it (although a shrewd decision was made in making hers the first voice we hear, as putting her shoddy accent out front and on its own allows us to come to terms with and thereafter ignore it).

Oh and by the way, this is also a brutally funny movie, mixing clever repartee with a little dark comedy, slapstick, absurdity, and a little more dark comedy. The explosions, though somewhat scarce considering the subject material, are hilarious; V holds my second favorite explosion of all time (the first being the explosion from Eulogy). V cooking breakfast or fencing with a dummy or admitting to assassination… these, capsules of true joy filched from the Merry Pranksters themselves!

Allright, I think that’s quite enough. Go watch the movie and see for yourself!

Action: 4/5 shimmering knives (All things considered, this movie is a little light on action for it’s genre, but what’s here is really very well done, just not awe-inspiring).
Acting: 5/5 Guy Fawkes masks (I think I already rambled enough about Hugo Weaving, so I’ll spare you a rerun. Needless to say, I was very impressed by virtually everyone).
Drama: 5/5 toilet-paper gospels (If nothing else, this movie really knows how to hit ya good and hard. It runs the audience through the gamut of emotion, all the while never feeling as if it’s forcing itself upon you. I’m getting chills just thinking about it).
Story: 5/5 cases of St. Mary’s (Despite its many moments of "downtime," and despite the already well-worn trail it takes, V manages to spin a truly enrapturing, unpredicatable yarn. This is an example of what some truly creative, motivated, and well-bankrolled people can really do).
Sound: 5/5 loudspeakers (The music here is really superb, although I guess it helps that V’s taste in music includes some of the best scores ever penned. Like all really good music, it nicely supported the action without overwhelming it or, worse yet, shoving the emotion we “should be feeling” down our throughts. Likewise with the sound effects. All in all, exemplary).
Visuals: 5/5 violet carsons (Waiter? yes, I’d like to order a round of Wowness for the theater, thank you. Words are insufficient. Just go see).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 4.75/5 gunpower plots (Definatelly nicely nestled among my tippy-tops. Master your excuses and see this movie).

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