It’s been a few weeks since I saw this film, and I’ve been mulling over my reaction since. It’s very much a mixed bag, really, and my feelings towards it are rather coloured by the fact that Alan Moore (the co-creator of the comic) has strongly expressed his distaste for the changes made in the transition between the page and the screen. It’s tempting to make this review into a ‘the good/the bad’ semi-list, but I won’t.
Oh, and here be spoilers, so look away now if you don’t want to know the results.
There are fundamental problems in the film, many of them inevitable given that a comic of something like 200+ very dense pages has been reduced to a film of about two hours. There are huge leaps in the action which don’t necessarily make sense, the character of Finch has been horribly reduced (would have loved to see his Larksmere visit filmed), and the character of V has been changes, as has Evey.
But… there are some bits of the film which work surprisingly well; the Valerie sequence is about as well filmed as it could be, and is really rather moving, and Stephen Fry’s character, whilst very reliant on the likability that Fry as a person brings as welcome baggage to the screen, is effective in both plot terms and as a performance.
Speaking of performances, Weaving as V is pretty good, though the problem with having heard V’s voice on and off in my head for nearly two decades inevitably means that that his voice isn’t quite what I was expecting (oh yes, that sentence looks mad out of context, but you know what I mean). Natalie Portman’s not bad as Evey either, though she’s slightly less sympathetic as a result of plot changes such as during the scene with the Bishop where she tries to betray V.
The general consensus about the film is that the bits which are faithful to the comic work well, and that the newly invented bits don’t, and whilst the former aspect of that is certainly true, the latter isn’t entirely the case; the end sequence wiht the crowd and the barricades – despite its mob tendencies going rather against the anarchist principles of the original story – is quite effective, and the threaded together bits with the dominoes works pretty well. To my amusement, as well, I actually thought that it was Christopher Hitchens playing Lewis Protheroe, though I was (unsurprisingly) wrong (it was Roger Allam).
So, a not-bad film, though certainly not a great one, and for people who haven’t read the original work it’ll probably be pretty entertaining, though viewers familiar with the original will almost certainly spend a lot of time missing what’s not there, and umm-ing and ahh-ing about the new material. And some of the ideas in the film remain timely, such as the line about how governments should be afraid of the people, and not vice versa…
Is this a cautious recommendation? I think it is. Maybe wait for it on rental if you’re not sure.