"V for Vendetta" Blu-ray Review
June 03, 2008 by Zach Demeter
With V for Vendetta comes a film that carried the weight of the Wachowski Brothers first film since the Matrix Trilogy and another adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novels. Considering what many thought of the final two Matrix films and how much of a hit-or-miss track record Moore’s comics had in their film counterparts (I’d say the majority are all a complete “miss”, Constantine aside), V for Vendetta could’ve crashed and burned. However, by remaining true to its original graphic novel self and the Wachowski’s providing an excellent script, the film prevailed past the negativities both creators’ works have been hit with in the past. And while I’m sure Moore will still ignore the existence of the film, if Frank Miller can have such a turnaround in Hollywood, maybe Moore will still see the positives some day.
V for Vendetta follows the terrorist V (Hugo Weaving), on his crusade to bring down the tyrannical rule of a future England. Evey (Natalie Portman) meets up with V early on in the film and they form a friendship (and eventually a kind of love interest) which quickly begins helping a chain of events take place. V’s quest to murder the people that made him what he is spirals throughout the period of a year between two fifths of November, on which V and Evey watch key landmarks in England explode in a roaring blaze of music and fireworks.
The cinematography in this film is excellent, offering a ton of great scenes for your eyes to feast on and take in. The cold cell that Evey resides in and V’s home are all brilliant spectacles, but the biggest eye-popper was near the end of the film. When what looks like nearly all of England is wearing the capes and masks that V wears and marches throughout the city, it’s almost more daunting than seeing the armies of Clones in the second Attack of the Clones. You can attribute the power of the thousands of V’s as being more emotionally powerful due to the politically charged nature of the film…but nevertheless, it is quite the sight to behold.
On top of the wicked visuals is the whole story behind V as well. The dark history of how he was disfigured and the overall gory history of it all is shown here in a shadowed yet very graphic detail. How he treats the world because of this and how he acts to those around him are all elements that make the film so enjoyable to watch, not to mention the knock-out acting by the entire cast. It’s a superb production all around, but I’m only just scratching the surface of what makes V for Vendetta what it is.
The core element behind the film is that governments corrupt. Following the thought trail of 1984 or Equilibrium, V for Vendetta shows a country under brutal totalitarian regime, where everything is organized and ordered and nothing is questioned. This is the world V has to disrupt and the many parallels it draws from current world events is staggering. Even though this film hit theaters three years ago, the relevance is still felt today and amidst the explosions and brain twisting dialogue, the film manages to not date itself by talking about events that are almost always universal in any time in a government’s life. Like the aforementioned books and films, V for Vendetta will go down not only as a great film but also as a great story about the power of governments.
Of course there are non-political aspects of the film that are enjoyable as well. Those who went to the film solely because of the Wachowski’s name being attached won’t be disappointed, as there are plenty of exciting set pieces to behold such as the beginning bombing as well as the many hand-to-hand fights V has during the course of the film. The aforementioned march of V’s as well as a great domino sequence really makes for some great visuals to accompany the political commentary. On top of all of that are the audio elements that are just as immersive as the rest of the film.
With the audio we have more subtle intricacies that come into play such as the music that V plays both when blowing things up and also the music he plays in his hideout, but also the general sound effects of the film. The sound of the daggers whizzing through the air and the flurry of punches make for a satisfactory time no matter where you’re sitting in the room when this film is playing. There’s always something to feast your eyes and ears on, which is just another reason why V for Vendetta has the strength and staying power it does.
My only regret with this film is not seeing it in the theater; while my sound system does a fine job of replicating the explosions and fights with the proper boom, seeing the movie on a larger screen would have only made it more enjoyable. V for Vendetta was a filmy I only enjoyed before but now watching it again three years later, I found that I enjoy it even more now. Amazing what a little time can do to help you appreciate a movie. Highly Recommended.
When V for Vendetta saw an HD DVD release, it was one of the more technically advanced titles at that time. It boasted extras that Blu-ray couldn’t hope to accomplish at that point in time, but with the latest Blu-ray profile updates came the BD Live capability, which added in picture-in-picture video play, allowing for the inevitable Blu-ray release of V for Vendetta to be everything that the HD DVD release was. Those who held out for the Blu-ray release won’t be disappointed—well maybe you will be, as it’s pretty much an exact clone of the HD DVD release. The film itself arrives in a standard Blu-ray case with an insert inside telling you to keep your player up-to-date. Menu for the DVD is as you’d expect, with a nice navigation accessible while the movies playing. Also a bonus is after inserting it into my PS3 a little logo came up that stated that’s what was in the drive, rather than a plain icon stating it was simply a Blu-ray disc.
The video and audio portion of the release are as you’d expect—crisp and gorgeous. I was really impressed by some of the visuals that V for Vendetta boasts, especially during the finale of the film. Deep reds on the domino pieces as well as the roses and the blacks all over the city and the myriad of V’s were nice and inky. Plenty of color depth to everything and it’s really one of the more visually impressive films I’ve seen on the HD format yet. For the audio we have a booming Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, as well as plain ol ‘English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese tracks in 5.1. There’s certainly no lack of audio options for this release, that’s for certain. The TrueHD is obviously the strongest on the set and sounds absolutely wonderful. Plenty of surround uses as well as LFE output—the final bout of explosions at the end of the film were floor shaking.
The Blu-ray/HD-DVD exclusive extra presented here is the “In-Movie Experience”, which has director James McTeigue, stars Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman along with other creative team members occasionally popping up for a “chat” during some of the films sequences. It’s kind of like an intermittent commentary, only with video and audio instead of audio only. It’s not a bad substitute with the lack of commentary, but it’s still a nice extra to have.
Other than that the rest of the extras, all presented in either 480i or 480p, are repeats from the two-disc edition of the release and include “Designing the Near Future” (17:15), a lengthy look at the sets and outfits used in the film, “Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot” (10:15) recounts the legend of Fawkes for those not informed about it all and "Freedom! Forever!: Making V for Vendetta" (15:47) serves as our standard making-of center piece for the disc. "England Prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics" (14:40) tackles the original V for Vendetta graphic novel, while the other extras on the disc range from superfluous (Cat Power Montage, 2:02), to predictable (Theatrical Trailer) to the just plain weird Natalie Portman Rap (2:34) from SNL. V’s very briefly seen in it, so I guess that justifies it being here…not that I’m knocking it, it’s still as hilarious as it was the first time I saw it.
Overall V for Vendetta is a supreme Blu-ray release and should be owned by all of those who have adopted the format into their homes. If you already own the two-disc DVD edition you may not be won over by the pop-up video commentary, but if you want to see what this film looks like in glorious high-definition, then this release is a good representation of that. Highly Recommended.
V for Vendetta is now available on Blu-ray.