“V for Vendetta” was immediately compared to “Sin City” as this year’s cult hit and after viewing it, I can say that the two don’t really share a lot in common except for the fact that they are and will continue to be cult hits (forgive the run-on sentence)! Comparing the two is apples and oranges, of course, but I will say that “V for Vendetta” did something that not a lot of movies do it inspired me. Yes, that’s right it actually managed to put a little twinkle in my eye. Something about going against the current and standing up for your beliefs (regardless of how you do it) always manages to move me and though I didn’t shed a tear, I was rooting for “V” from beginning to end. “V for Vendetta” is based off of the popular comic book series “Vertigo” and going back about twenty years when I used to read comics, I remember “Vertigo” being a very outlandish, artistic side of DC comics. Naturally, a big draw of the film is that it was written by Andy and Larry Wachowski who wrote a certain “Matrix” trilogy. Heard of it? If anything screamed “cult classic” it’s these two names. However all of this is window-dressing if you don’t have the talent and the direction to pull it off and “V for Vendetta” has everything and a bit more.
It’s the future and a mysterious plague has enveloped the Earth. Evidently the United States is now all but a leper colony and England has once again risen to a world power. London is the center of all goings on and, in somewhat of a police state, the chancellor (John Hurt) rules with an iron fist. It’s then that we meet “V” (Hugo Weaving), a masked man who wishes to re-instate the patriotic attitude that England had before everything changed. The date is November 5, a symbol of a revolutionary time. “V” makes his mark as he blows up landmarks and takes control of the TV station where he broadcasts his demands. Ending up in the middle of everything is Evey (Natalie Portman). “V” has saved her from being raped just in time for her to witness the spectacle first hand. She reluctantly becomes involved with “V” as his partner-in-crime as he waits until his work is finally finished. Naturally we learn some of the backstory as to what drove “V” to do this sort of thing and he goes on somewhat of a killing spree to avenge what was done to him. Will “V” prevail or will he become a martyr for his beliefs?
“V for Vendetta” really thrilled me and even behind a mask, we sense the charisma of Hugo Weaving. I was reminded of “The Professional” also starring Natalie Portman, in which she was tutored by a lone assassin (Jean Reno) the movie has the same overall theme in which they must hide in isolation to avoid being hunted and killed by the powers that be. I also have to say that I was pretty impressed by the work of Natalie Portman who sported what I thought was a perfect British accent. Portman has shown that she can do major studio blockbusters (“Star Wars”) as well as independent films. This might sound like a long shot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she got an Oscar nomination for her role here. “V for Vendetta” won’t be for everyone, cult movies rarely are, but take it with a grain of salt and enjoy the ride. I did.
Video: How does it look?
“V for Vendetta” looked pretty darn good on standard DVD, but I’m pleased to say that this new HD transfer really bumps up the picture a notch (giving it a prefect score of “5” I might add). Everything about this Blu-ray is just…better. Any fault that exists on the standard DVD has been wiped away, the plethora of dark scenes isn’t a challenge for this new transfer and black levels are right on the mark. I couldn’t find one instance or anything even closely resembling an error on this HD title. This has the same VC-1 transfer as the HD DVD and after a comparison, there’s no clear winner here as they both look perfect.
Audio: How does it sound?
We get the same Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that was found on the HD DVD and oh my does it sound great! The standard DVD contained a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that sounded good, but this TrueHD in all of its uncompressed beauty really takes the audio to another level. Everything seems more rich and well-defined here and especially the classical music that takes over in a few scenes. Dialogue is true and faithful and there was so much ambiance during most of the movie, I don’t think that my surrounds stopped working during the entire film. This is what HD DVD is all about and it’s a step up, for sure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This Blu-ray version contains the exact same supplements as the HD DVD did and the supplements on the standard DVD’s two-disc edition. We have the movie and the obligatory “Making of” documentary entitled “Freedom! Forever!: Making V for Vendetta”. This is, by and large, what every other “Making of” documentary is, interviews with the cast and crew and a major portion focused on the origin of the story in the DC Comics Vertigo line. There are four more featurettes: “Designing the Near Future” which looks at the look and feel of London 15 years from now. “Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot” concentrates on the origin of the November 5 section of the story. “England Prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics” showcases the origin of the story from the comic books. Interesting. I’ll leave the “Cat Power” montage to your imagination and the original theatrical trailer is also included. Lastly, Warner has given “V for Vendetta” the royal treatment by adding an “In Movie Exprience” to this disc and it’s a great supplement to an already great movie. Like other “IME’s” out there, we get additional information by the cast and crew about the making of the movie in an interactive window at the bottom of the screen. Since this movie debuted on HD DVD, Blu-ray has “caught up” and is now able to offer the same experience via the Java 1.1 platform. Now why did it take this long for the film to find its way to Blu-ray?