For the first time in years, I actually went to the theater to see a live-action movie this weekend. I went to see V For Vendetta, despite my misgivings about the way the original comic book’s writer, Alan Moore, has been treated. Moore had his name taken off the movie after a series of bad experiences with Hollywood mangling his work while translating it to the big screen. He was right to do it here.
I’ve read a few reviews that actually claim that this movie is a faithful adaptation of the original comic book. Those reviews can only have been written by people who have never been within a hundred yards of an actual copy of this comic book. The wire service review that ran here in The Gazz was evidently written by someone who was completely unfamiliar with the comic. Obviously just relying on what Warner Brothers had put in the press kit, the reviewer attributed the “graphic novel” to artist, David Lloyd, with no mention of Moore at all.
The movie, “V For Vendetta,” is a total bastardization of the original comic book. I know. I read the original back in the early ’80s when it was serialized in an obscure British comic magazine called Warrior. I remember the three-year wait after Warrior ceased publication with the last third of “V For Vendetta” unfinished. In 1988, Alan Moore and his artist, David Lloyd, sold the rights to DC Comics, and finished their story. It was an astonishing work–challenging, compelling, deep. It personified the philosophical struggle between fascism and anarchy, and did so with a wicked comment on Thatcher’s England.
The movie adaptation, written by the Wachowski brothers of “Matrix” fame, is typical Hollywood claptrap that rapes and pillages the original work for its settings and imagery, perverts the original theme into a hackneyed parable about the Bush Administration, and totally ignores the core portrayal of anarchy as a viable political alternative. The poetry of Moore’s original work is replaced with insipid, hack sitcom-level dialogue. Instead of a struggle between fascism and anarchy, we get a “plucky underdog brings down the big bad guys” formulaic piece of tripe. Only about half the original work turns up in the movie, but they did manage to crowbar in lots of extra explosions, “Matrix-y” fight scenes, an idiotic and inappropriate love story, and loads of currently fashionable political subtexts that weren’t in the comic.
This should forever end the use of the phrase “comic book-y” as an insult. This comic book had to be so dumbed-down to make it to the big screen that it’s clear that movies are the medium for lowbrow, banal, melodrama, not comic books. Comic books like “V For Vendetta”are way too complex to be translated to film. The Wachowski brothers should never be allowed near another comic book again. Their scripts are too “movie-like” to be taken seriously. The movie is junk.
Of course, it topped the box office this weekend.