V is for Verbigeration 

It has been a long time since I laughed hard in a theater. Screening V for Vendetta changed that.

During the previews, they (wisely) decided to show the following back to back:

Trailer One
Trailer Two

Do I need to tell you that the crowd cracked-up at the first shot of the hero at the beginning of Trailer Two? Or about the laughter that followed when a character turned to the hero and said, “There’s something you’re not telling me.”?

I have never adored an audience so much as in that moment.

And Phillip Seymor Hoffman is so good. Even in previews. I would hire him immediately.

Same goes for Mr. H. Weaving, who is the man behind the mask (V). Not an easy thing, pulling off a masked protagonist, but they did an OK job. Weaving is mostly to thank for that bit.

Here’s the main thing you need to know about the movie: It’s a Wachowski Brothers film. You saw The Matrix 2-3, right? V is better than those, but the Ws are still doing that message thing they do.

The Matrix was a very clear script. They had their talky-talky bits and it worked. (See blue/red pill scene, see Oracle scene, see Agent Smith and Morpheus scene… .) Matrix 2-3 was convoluted and they got lost in their own preachy-ness and attempts at irony. (See entire movie—Actually, I wouldn’t if I were you: It's not very good.) I am a fan of the talky-ness and preachy-ness and symbolism and messages and themes and irony and the other things that spur the Ws to create art, but there are many of subtle things to learn from the mistakes they make in pursuit of those story elements. I saw a lot of wasted opportunity. Genre screenwriters: There are lessons for us here. Take notes.

Their trouble lies in that they often let the message, the theme, the Wachowski-isms, lead in place of character motivation and plot. When you follow the latter elements, the theme comes out naturally in the telling instead of feeling forced and inorganic to the story. Unfortunately, the Ws are becoming known for sending tedious, mixed messages instead of the awesomely clear ones present in the first Matrix film. All they need to do is tighten up their scripts.

In addition to the “mixed message” issues, the Ws have some show-don’t-tell problems regarding the exposition. Sometimes the trouble is not in that they don’t show but instead in what or how they show. Slight character motivation trouble and too-easy plot fixes also stick out. There are solid sequences and, on the other hand, cliché moments and scenes (you will notice a scene we’ve already seen Natalie act in a different film this past year). It’s a good thing that V isn’t a minute longer.

It’s hard to pull off a genre film screenplay wise, then to shoot and edit it and still pull it off yet again and again in each production phase of the story. V isn’t a good genre movie, but it’s not a terrible genre movie either, and for those reasons I won’t pick it apart further. Half of the audience cheered a little after the movie. If it’s your sort of thing, you’ll probably like it fine. It's at the same level as Kong, but for completely different reasons, and I liked it at least a little better than Kong because it was timelier in the telling. (Although, it's timelyness is less potent on the heels of such social, question asking dramas as Brokeback, GN, GL and Syriana. And forget that "vision of the future" thing; there really isn't one.)

Speaking of timely, if you’re going to talk about the month of November so much, then as a rule you should have to release your movie IN NOVEMBER. There’s something… unseasonable about V.

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