Tuesday, March 21, 2006

V for Vendetta

Andrea and I are interested in seeing V for Vendetta. Unfortunately, one of the main things that was going to draw us to the movie were the political overtones, and the review I read on Wired said that that’s exactly what the movie did badly. (The other thing that will draw us is that we both like Natalie Portman.)

If you’re too lazy to click the link and read the whole thing, here’s an excerpt:

Vendetta is too vague to pack much political punch. Hollywood, with its congenital fear of alienating anyone, manages to dilute the comic book’s radical, complex vision.

What’s left is a fuzzy, pandering film. What are its lessons? Totalitarianism is bad. People power is good. Unless you aren’t quite sure where to stand on the whole Hitler-Nazi-Holocaust thing, Vendetta is unlikely to evolve your worldview.

The film’s biggest problem, however, isn’t its watered-down politics. Vendetta falls surprisingly flat as entertainment. There’s some dazzling action and the exciting design we expect from the Wachowskis.

But as it bounces between genres—a bit of melodrama, a dash of political intrigue, some half-hearted footage of a fascist dystopia—the film doesn’t seem to know how to look or feel. V (Hugo Weaving) and Evey (Natalie Portman) are lit in glowing, romantic hues, even as the film insists that we are on the edge of apocalypse.

The only thing that gives me hope is that a bunch of people commented on the review, saying that the reviewer is out to lunch. So maybe it is a good movie, and maybe he is out to lunch. However, the fact that Alan Moore (the guy who wrote the original comic) insisted that his name be removed from the credits is a bit disheartening.

Now, I’ve had conversations in the past with people who don’t like reviews at all. I’ve been told that movies are supposed to be entertainment, and that they don’t have to be Shakespeare. However, I respectfully disagree; I agree with the part that movies are supposed to be entertainment, and I have no problem with movies that are juvenile, or have gaping plot holes, or whatever, as long as I’m entertained. But if I read a review that says that a movie doesn’t entertain, that’s a valid criticism.

The flip side is that a lot of reviews are written by people who are working for the same corporation—or parent corporation, or some corporation in the same family as the parent corporation—as the movie makers, and only write glowing reviews. This is simply corrupt, and it always gets me aggravated. I don’t like overt propaganda maskerading as valid criticism. It’s to the point that I can’t trust positive reviews anymore, which is pretty sad; there are reviewers out there who are honest (or work for honest companies), and who can still do positive reviews, for movies that are really good. If you can only trust the reviews that are negative, you’re going to get pretty cynical.

Anyway, back to the point.

Some of the people “reviewing the reviewer” on the Wired site are saying that the movie doesn’t have to stay true to the comic to be entertaining—which I agree with—and that the movie doesn’t have to be political to be entertaining—which I also agree with. However, I come back to the idea that the point of the comic was to be overtly political, and the movie is based on the comic, and the reason that I wanted to see the movie is because it was political. So if I read a review that says it didn’t live up to expectations, I consider that a valid review, too. When the reviewer then goes on to say that he didn’t find it entertaining, either, I start to get worried.

I’m sure I’m still going to see the movie, and I’ll make up my own mind about it. But only because I had already intended to see it; if I wasn’t sure about this movie, I would have had to read some more reviews in order to make up my mind.

This situation reminds me of Fantastic Four. I read a review of the movie which said that it sucked—probably not in those words—and I trusted the review, and figured that the movie probably sucked. So I didn’t see it. Until I was on an airplane coming from Venezuela, and that was the in-flight movie, and there was nothing else to do. So I watched it. And it sucked.



Anonymous said...

Oddly enough another weblog I frequent just posted their opinion on movie reviews.

I, myself, avoid reading them, prefering to make up my own mind. Although I have noticed I need one thing to see a movie in a theater. An action sequence that warrants the big screen. I don't see much point in watching a pure comedy / drama on the big screen. Seems like a waste of money to me and makes the movie going experience less-than-special. If one sees a movie every week or 2 it lessens the experience as well IMHO.

David Hunter said...

Everyone makes up their own mind, as to whether a movie was good or not—in retrospect. However, I use reviews ahead of time to decide if it's worth spending my $14 (or whatever the price is nowadays—remember that I live in Toronto).

I just have to be careful to read a number of reviews, or reviews by people I trust. In this case, as I said, I'll more than likely still see the movie—in the theatre, if possible—despite the fact that this review was bad, because I'd already made up my mind to see it.

In other cases, if my mind wasn't made up already, I'd check out the other reviews first, and if they were bad, too, I'd save my money and spend it on something else.

I have no problem waiting until a movie comes out on The Movie Network, and watching it for free.