V for Vendetta (2005)

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Released 7-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Freedom! Forever!
Web Links
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 127:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By James McTeigue
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Natalie Portman
Hugo Weaving
Stephen Rea
Stephen Fry
John Hurt
Tim Pigott-Smith
Rupert Graves
Roger Allam
Ben Miles
Sinéad Cusack
Natasha Wightman
John Standing
Eddie Marsan
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Dario Marianelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Is it possible in this post 9/11 age, where we're all conditioned to live in fear, that a film could be so powerful, intelligent, and moving that it will challenge the accepted Bush-view of the world, and within two hours, have audiences standing on their feet cheering acts of terrorism? Part political thriller, adventure, action film and social commentary, V for Vendetta  is a multi-textured, rousing and visually sumptuous film combining political allegory, bloody action and some of 2006's most stunning cinematic moments into a solid and thoroughly entertaining film that will be remembered long after all of this year's other blockbusters are forgotten.

    Films with stories set in a depressing, totalitarian futures are not uncommon. But what appears onscreen with these films is often so artificial, self-conscious and in thrall of technology or special effects that the Art Director's vision of robots, people in white jump suits, metallic furniture and fluorescent lights can often obscure, and even bury, the story.

    Sometimes, however, a film comes along that has a futuristic story armed with a literate, intelligent, character-driven plot, and boasts acting and direction so strong that you find yourself transported somewhere else entirely.

     V for Vendetta is adapted from Alan Moore's highly acclaimed Thatcher-era graphic novel. The titular character, V, is an interesting and mysterious figure. He is a violent anarchist, yet also a romantic, theatrical and highly-educated man of questionable sexuality, rebelling against a totalitarian state.

    The character of V originally appeared in a British comic, Warrior, that was published between 1982 and 1985. Illustrator David Lloyd had avoided the typical superhero look of V by giving him a swashbuckling look and style reminiscent of Zorro but disguising him as Guy Fawkes - the Catholic terrorist who tried unsuccessfully to blow up the British Houses of Parliament.

    When Warrior ceased publication in 1985, Moore and Lloyd were approached by a number of companies. They signed with DC Comics, and in 1988 a 10-issue series was published which reprinted the original V for Vendetta stories in colour, and added new chapters to complete the story. DC then re-published the whole collection as a graphic novel.

    Interestingly, Moore and Lloyd have polar opposite views of the film adaptation. While Lloyd happily joined the film's publicity bandwagon, Moore had his name removed from the film's credits. Perhaps in reference to his well-publicised contractual battle with DC Comics, in an interview in the New York Times earlier this year, he claimed "I don't want anything more to do with these works because they were stolen from me — knowingly stolen from me." The article can be found here.

    Behind-the-scenes shenanigans aside, as a film V for Vendetta presents us with a powerful, bleak, dystopian view of an Orwellian future.

    In 2020 London, in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks, Chancellor Sutler (John Hurt) has risen to total power. The public has handed over their freedom for safety, and have now been conditioned to live in a constant state of fear. As a result, the concept of civil rights for citizens has disappeared completely.

    It seems no better anywhere else. Across the Atlantic, the United States has collapsed into civil war caused by plague, poverty, and civil unrest.

    A young British woman, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), works as a junior assistant at the sole Government-run television station. A little bit rebellious, Evey is caught out after curfew by a group of cruel and sleazy secret policemen known as "Fingermen". Fortunately, she is saved by a mysterious, swashbuckling stranger named V (Hugo Weaving), whose face is hidden behind a mask of Guy Fawkes.

    Previously unknown, V is about to become the most infamous individual in London - a mysterious crusader, who will inspire the people and enrage the authorities.

    V's Guy Fawkes mask isn't just a disguise to preserve his anonymity, but a strong symbol to proclaim his rebellion. V's intelligent conversation is dense with analysis and ideology, and his hideout isn't a museum of weaponry, but a vast library and art gallery. He is a violent man, but logic and anger has led him to that. In a world governed by fear and violence, fear and violence logically become the best tool for change.

    As V declares: "People shouldn't be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

    After the rescue, V persuades Evey to accompany him to watch a "performance", which has some very surprising results. As V acknowledges, "blowing up a building can change the world."

    However, with government surveillance cameras everywhere, Evey is quickly linked to the event, and the police, led by Chief Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) and Sutler's right-hand-man, the evil Creedy (Tim Pigott-Smith), are dispatched to arrest her.

    Unknown to Evey and the Police, V is already planning to put the next stage of his master plan in place. In a nod to Phantom of the Opera, V kidnaps Evey and brings her to his secret hideout where she begins to learn more about V, and discover that she, and millions of others, are living a lie.

    Matrix duo Larry and Andy Wachowski, together with debutant Aussie director James McTeigue (assistant director on The Matrix movies), have created a film brimming with anger, intellect and suspense.

    From a visual standpoint, V for Vendetta stands out as one of the best of the recent comic book-to-film adaptations. It flows with rich and memorable images and arresting iconography. Yet, by keeping the perspective of a naïve girl dragged into a brutal struggle, the film ensures that the human element is never lost.

    The casting is perfect, and the characters are played with intelligence and subtlety. The film allows Portman again to show off her range. Weaving is brilliant behind the mask in what would have been a very challenging role, as he has to rely so much on his voice and gestures. Rea is strong in one of the key roles as the decent, hangdog cop who begins to question the world around him, and Hurt is perfect as the vain and cruel despot, ranting and salivating in true fascist style.

    V for Vendetta asks uncomfortable questions about the price we're willing to pay by giving up our freedom to feel safer. The current wave of anti-terrorism laws, along with lengthy imprisonments without trial and increasing government power and surveillance is certainly a long way from the previous human ideals of "Give me liberty or give me death!" Here's a film that reminds us that the term "terrorist" is defined purely by perspective. One man's selfless and defiant act of liberation is another man's suicide bombing.

     "Remember, remember the fifth of November…"

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Transfer Quality

Video

    V for Vendetta has a great transfer, and the DVD looked fantastic both on my widescreen television and when viewed with a DLP projector. Indeed, with its strong visual imagery, I urge you to watch this film with a projector if you can.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent throughout. Consider for example the detail in the stacks of books in the background at 38:58. The black level is excellent, as is the shadow detail, as can be seen in the well defined images during the dimly lit interior of the boardroom at 11:06.

    The colour is also excellent throughout, and the film uses coloured lens extensively to help create the various moods. For example, many scenes are intentionally bleak. The skin tones are accurate.

    There are no problems with MPEG, film-to-video, or film artefacts. Some minor edge enhancement is noticeable occasionally, but I never found it distracting.

    English, German, English for the Hearing Impaired and German for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present. The English ones are accurate.

    The DVD is a dual-layered disc, with the layer change at 65:26. The feature is divided into 33 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is truly wonderful, and a real treat for home theatre buffs.

    The film has an awesome sound design, and the DVD offers the options of: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    It is disappointing to note that the feature's audio has been encoded at the inferior 384Kb/s.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Dario Marianelli. The dramatic orchestral score suits the film well, helping set the tone of the story, and underscoring the emotion. But the standout musical moment belongs to the explosive destruction of the UK's Old Bailey, complete with fireworks choreographed to the strains of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

    Prepare yourself for an aggressive and immersive surround sound experience. The surround activity is beautifully designed, and the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and to provide ambience, such as the firefight at 98:05. There are also a great deal of directional effects, and panning between the speakers, which helps create a very immersive listening experience. For example, Sutler's voice enveloping the surrounds at 55:19.

    The film boasts a powerful LFE track, and the subwoofer is called upon throughout, such as where the door is being kicked in at 21:02, or the ominous strike of Big Ben at 98:23.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    I understand that this film is being simultaneously released in Region 4 as a single-disc and as a two-disc Special Edition. From what I can gather, our two-disc Special Edition matches the R1 two-disc release. Sadly, we were only sent a copy of the single-disc version to review.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Trailer?

    The DVD opens with that very annoying, overly loud forced anti-piracy commercial. I have realised that the only way to avoid this forced advert, which cannot be skipped, is to watch a pirated copy of the movie, as DVD copying software such as AnyDVD or One Click DVD can easily remove it. An interesting irony to say the least.

Featurette - Freedom! Forever! Making of V for Vendetta (15:57)

    A short making of which is really little more than marketing fluff. While there are some snippets of behind-the-scenes action, and interviews with key people such as Producer Joel Silver and Director James McTeigue, there is very little depth or exploration due to the short running time. The featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    V for Vendetta was released on DVD in R1 with a choice of widescreen or pan & scan editions, and a choice between one or two-disc editions. As I mentioned above, our two-disc Special Edition matches the R1 two-disc release.

    Compared with the R1 two-disc Special Edition, the Region 4 one-disc DVD misses out on the following extras included on R1's Disc Two:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

Summary

    Long after all of 2006's blockbusters are forgotten, V for Vendetta will continue to find an audience. You will probably feel a little more suspicious and critical of the Bush-era world by the end of it, but you can also choose to ignore the political undertones and feel thoroughly entertained as well.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are . . . on the two-disc edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Single disc review - Steveo REPLY POSTED
Not mentioning that an identical R4 two disc set is also available is pretty desceptive - HungryJonas
Okay either things changed since I first read this review... - HungryJonas
Forced advertising - Anonymous
Forced Piracy clip - Tom (read my bio)
RE: Forced Advertising - Frank
Forced anti-piracy clip not found on 2 disc edition - Sean Brady
2 disc info - Sean Brady
Natalie Portman Easter Egg - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
RE: Forced anti-piracy clip not found on 2 disc edition - Anonymous
RE: Forced advertising - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)