Sometimes first impressions are misleading

A number of years ago, I read the “V For Vendetta” 10-issue graphic novel series and wasn’t terribly impressed. The artistic style wasn’t one of my favourites and that generally does a comic in for me. If the visuals aren’t impressing me, I quickly lose interest in the rest. The vast amounts of publicity that “V For Vendetta” received at the time and Alan Moore’s name on the cover forced me to persevere. By the end of it, I thought that much of the message was lost and all of it could have been presented in a much better manner. I found a lot of the oration dull and had a great deal of trouble with many of the characters. None of it wowed me the way it seemed to be doing for the rest of the world. I found so much of the dialogue and feel of the panels so off-putting and dated that when Vertigo/DC managed to get it moved to the big screen, well before the days of the current deluge of comic book films, I ignored it completely. Of course, I wasn’t aware that the comics had originally been published in 1982-85 and actually were dated but not without merit. It’s very rare for a comic book-based movie to be better than the comic book itself. However much I may have enjoyed X-Men and Iron Man they were not the films I had been waiting 20-30 years to see. Based upon this, I’ve avoided “V For Vendetta” for quite some time. An opinion that writer Alan Moore seemed to share, having not even viewed the film himself.

On Friday, I popped over to the local used disk store and found nothing that I desperately needed to purchase. Generally when that occurs, I go through everything a second time looking for items that aren’t on the top of my list but still belong in my collection. Due both to it’s comic book ties as well as my friend Stewart’s accolades, “V For Vendetta” falls into that “snag it if nothing else turns up” category. I left the store with a Blu-Ray copy figuring to watch it this weekend. At least I was going to be viewing something that I hadn’t previously seen rather than re-watching one of my other films that I’ve seen numerous times before.

To say that I misjudged the content would be a dramatic understatement. Even knowing the details of the story, I still enjoyed the film from beginning to end. I complain a great deal these days that so many films are 80%-90% good and fall apart in the last 20 minutes but my rants were suppressed by the sheer enjoyability of the film as well as it’s thought provoking message. Hugo Weaving’s stellar delivery of V’s orations took me back to a younger time when I first became so fascinated with the complexities of the English language. As a young teen I read voraciously and included several different dictionaries in the list of books that I had consumed purely for pleasure. As you can imagine, a teenage geek with an enormous vocabulary who has made a point to study elocution is a very obnoxious creature indeed. In the manner of my kind, general opinion of my eloquence didn’t deter me in any way from studying further and the few friends I had clearly should be sainted for having been so. Fortunately for my social life, some of that fascination wore off in later years but it was a joy to revisit it even for the seemingly short 2 hour duration of the film. Anyone with a love for the English language should take the time to sit down with a copy of “V For Vendetta” and drink in the alliterative speech that Weaving delivers in the first quarter of the film. While the lines themselves are somewhat over the top, I like to believe that Weaving was capable of speaking the entire scene in one take. It’s little fantasies like this that give me hope for our dying language in today’s world of rap music, monosyllabic action stars, and the expletive ridden dialogue of both that passes for clever writing these days.

I now proudly have “V For Vendetta” ensconced in the comic book section of my movie library and it is unlikely ever to leave. So enjoyable were the visuals, storyline, dialogue and performances of most of the characters, I’m certain that I’ll be watching this film a great deal over the years.

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