Friday, March 17, 2006

V For Vendetta: Hit or Miss?

Well here it is. After almost three months of lagging and unexciting film releases, the first, big “nerd” film of 2006 is released today. I am referring of course to V for Vendetta , the film starring Natalie Portman, written and produced by the Wachowski brothers and directed by their protégé James McTeigue.

V for Vendetta is one of those rare genre films that has slipped through the cracks for me. Granted, I never read the original Alan Moore comic, so I lack the connection that I have with other big comic book films like Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and X-Men. But I just don’t feel as much anticipation as I think I should for this movie. The first time I saw the teaser , I was certainly interested. Utter the Wachowski namesake, and I pay attention, I don’t care what people said about Reloaded and Revolutions. The teaser had an arresting visual style, and I was strangely drawn to the masked face of V.

I consider myself to be decently savy with the cinematic language, yet, even after watching the trailer a couple of times, I found myself unable to understand exactly what the movie was about. Remember the first trailer for the Matrix? It was very odd, with slo mo sequences, and voiceover that merely posited the question, “What is the Matrix?” While some people were actually inspired by this trailer, flocking to the theatres on opening weekend, I remained perplexed. I refused to go see it for weeks (I would of course eventually see it and become entralled) because I couldn’t get a grasp on what it could possibly be about.

I feel a bit of the same with VFV. Sure, I’ll go see it this weekend, but more so because there’s been a drought of good movies lately, and I’ll take my gamble on this one. But, I can’t really say I can make heads or tails of the plot. I know it takes place in the future, under some sort of dictatorial reign in the UK. So far, so good. There is a masked vigilante, V, who fights against the evils of the government. Natalie Portman plays a young woman, who is abducted and then….shaves her head and fights bad guys too? As you can see, this is sort of where it falls apart for me. I’m not one of those people who wishes to see everything in a trailer. In fact I hate the recent trend of revealing “too much” in the trailer, and spoiling the twists and turns of a film before you can even get to see it. In my opinion a good movie marketing campaign should be two fold. A teaser can be vague or primarily stylistic in nature. It is meant to pique the interest of the audience, and leave an impression or image in their mind. A full length trailer however, should provide a bigger sense of story. Whether or not it reveals the actual story of the film is not the point, the trailer in and of itself should tell a story, and be driven with a narrative. However, I don’t think the VFV trailer does a very good job of creating a story that will hook people in and reel them into the theatres.
I’m also curious to see how the film does at the box office. I think it could go either way for VFV. It could bring the fanboys out in droves and open very well, or it might alienate the population at large with its morose and eeris photgraphy. The film is hyper stylized, in a way that people might brush off as “too weird”, and as beautiful as she might be, I think even Natlie Portman will have some trouble overcoming the idea of “A girl with a shaved head? Ew.” The one sheet poster, while bold and artistic, is also a pretty bizarre image. Definitely not a safe choice on the part of the marketers, and I like that its not safe. But I also think it might make some people shy away from the film even more. Monday morning box office reports should be interesting.

Though I try not to pay attention to the critics before I go see any given film, I can’t help but take notice of the wave of positive reveiws for this movie. It fills me with some hope, because on first glance it seems like the type of movie that is difficult to be a darling with the critics. It is dark, political, and violent. So maybe there is some hope after all. I could use a good film right about now. Review forthcoming.


Blogger DoorFrame said...

I hadn't noticed it until you commented on the "weirdness" of the movie poster, but it looks like it's been inspired, at least a little, by Soviet-style design... especially the angles and colors. Examples 1 2 3 4.

6:11 AM  
Blogger DoorFrame said...

These are even better:


I love this stuff.

7:48 AM  
Blogger DoorFrame said...

Hell, looking at the poster ONE MORE time, that red circle with a line through it in the background could very well be a partially eclipsed soviet hammer and sickle. I really do have to see this movie.

7:50 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Hey. Yeah you are absolutely right about the Soviet thing --that was the reference I couldn't quite put my finger on. Cool posters you found too. The movie is worth seeing, you should check it out.

9:45 AM  

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