PictureMuch like the earlier released HD-DVD version of this film V for Vendetta charges onto screen with a wide 2.40:1 ratio again encoded at 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Much like the earlier release this film has some great moments in it although they tend to be fleeting to some degree.
First off the print is pretty immaculate showing no signs of brightness fluctuations or contrast dropouts. The seldom seen bright sky is crisp in tone never blooming over the very well defined London cityscape. There are neither blemishes on the print nor any excessive grain to speak of, so the original source material is a good starting point. The transfer itself is darn good with no blocking or noise, even in some of the oft-darker scenes. V for Vendetta is a dark film in tone and this is reflected well in the photography used, shadows and dimly lit scenes are more the order of the day.
In these moments shadow detail is acceptable, even within the corners of V's aptly named Shadow Gallery the weight of his collection is still apparent, with objects stacked here and there well into the background of his underground abode. All easily identified and all pin sharp. A few outdoor scenes and lighter scenes in people's homes again come across well, the sprawling view of London with the BTN tower placed firmly front and centre a joy to behold as every street with house and office off are incredibly detailed with window frames and architecture detail stretching well into the distance.
Facial tones are spot on and less saturated than the initial DVD release resulting in a more natural feel. Other colours, although generally muted are well delineated and confined showing no signs or creep or bleed. All of this ultimately sounds pretty good and it is a very fine detailed transfer but for some reason still appears a little flat. This argument can also be directed to the HD-DVD version so there's no difference between the two transfers, as far as I could see anyway; but that flatness somehow detracts from the pop which other top notch releases have exhibited.
SoundThe audio again is exactly the same as the earlier HD release. A Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track is the order of the day with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1, not Plus, to fall back on. The track of the day is by far the TrueHD with the standard 5.1 lacking by comparison being slightly weaker and less well defined in the higher tones whilst not quite having the thump of the low LFE channel.
The low frequencies are truly chest thumping when the initial 1812 overture starts whilst V proceeds to demolish the Old Bailey; those effects themselves kick the sub into overdrive as explosions and fireworks fill your space with a myriad of tonal effects from the fronts, stretching through to the rears. It's a dynamic set which is repeated often throughout the piece.
V, Evey and Finch have the most say in Vendetta and their dialogue is always heard, neither though will you lose syllables from John Hurt's Chancellor as he barks his orders nor the distain felt by Tim Pigott-Smith's bigoted power hungry Creedy.
Small nuances reverberate throughout the feature are pleasant; the gentle tapping of baton against pipe, melodies from a juke box, detailed audio from background television programmes - like the video itself the audio has layers of depth which are easily tuned into to discover more about the society these people live in.
The score almost hovers in the background to begin with allowing our protagonists the space on screen to verbalise their fears, thoughts and aspirations; it grows in stature as the film progresses though and by Evey's epiphany through to the tumultuous end it adds weight to the proceedings on screen and is a welcome addition.
- In Movie Experience - Director's Notebook.
Primarily James McTeigue, Natalie Portman and a very hairy bearded Hugo Weaving discuss getting V for Vendetta onto our screens, some of the themes contained within, their own characters and how they played their parts. Other contributors and production team members have their say on their own specific areas and it's all done like the HD-DVD version with PiP. This is a far superior way to view commentaries as I do feel it's important to see the people contributing and how they are reacting to certain scenes. It certainly makes the piece easier to 'view' and this commentary is well and detailed and worth a watch. Deviances from the book are mentioned but they make no apologies for doing so; and in this case that's fine in my book.
- Designing the Near Future. - 0:17:16
Director James McTeigue and Owen Patterson discussing the design, the limited preproduction which went into V for Vendetta. A discussion on where in Europe they should film follows, eventually deciding to shoot in Berlin with a few additional scenes near the end of the film shot on closed night streets in London. It's the usual sort of affair but there's an interesting piece on the construction of V's Shadow Gallery and a couple of the larger models which had to be constructed only to be blown apart.
- Remember, Remember : Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. - 0:10:17
A potted history of the on goings in 1605 where Guy Fawkes and his buddies tried to blow up the House of Parliament. A short back-story involving Elizabeth and her successor James 6th/1st is enjoyable enough and gives some brief insights into why this plot occurred. It could be used as a starting point for others to find out more about this period in our history.
- Freedom Forever : Making V for Vendetta. - 0:15:57
Mentions of the different versions of the scripts being banded about even prior to production on The Matrix, David Lloyd briefly saying how it was migrated from comic to film and enjoying the end result. There is some repetition from the earlier featurettes and out of the 4 on this disc this is probably the runt of the litter.
- England Prevails : V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics. - 0:14:40
A much more worthy piece and a must watch for any comic fan. Not a detailed study of course by any stretch of the imagination but a look into the emerging comics and their creators of the early 1980s. Predominantly British comic creators are discussed working on Warrior and 2000AD who were eventually taken up by a US market. The tone of comics darkened during this period, became more realistic and gritty and we have some of our own people to thank for that.
- Natalie Portman SNL Rap. - 0:02:34
A mock interview for Saturday Night Live with Natalie Portman where when asked questions responds by kicking in her latest spoof RAP video. It's a good laugh and for the sake of a couple of minutes and does indeed deserve your time.
- Cat Powers Montage. - 0:02:02
A music promo for the film with a selection of scenes from the film against Cat Powers melancholy "I Found a Reason".
As the name suggest.
It's a joy to see the entire set of the extras released onto HD being ported over to this new BluRay variant; anything less would have been a smack in the face to those who had entered the BluRay camp from the start. This has really only been available though since the BluRay Profile 1.1 specification. The extras are good, with the excellent and in-depth PiP commentary track, not just with talking heads on screen but also showing pre-production work and behind the scene images. The 4 small featurettes all have something to say, but there is some repetition and that's a shame because there are many themes contained within V and most of these could be discussed. The jewel for me was the brief insight into the comic world of the 1980s and although most serious comic fans will obviously know this from the get go its a good starting point for others perhaps not so familiar with the genre.
VerdictTo some degree the director and producers for V for Vendetta were on a hiding to nothing even before they started. Moore is not the easiest man to work with in the first place, perhaps he's a perfectionist, perhaps he's just overly proud of his own work and that's no bad thing; but getting his ultimate stamp of approval would always be difficult and in the end they didn't receive it. That though is a crying shame because of all of his works it is by far the best transfer from paper to celluloid and even without these earlier incarnations would still be good enough in it's own right.
V is a multi layered filmed which can be viewed by different people and all come away with something different to say; that in itself is no bad thing either, it's opened up the genre somewhat to others who at first might not have been interested. A love affair between Evey and V, a revenge caper with V hunting down those who had done him so much wrong, an action adventure mystery with the authorities on the trail of a vicious terrorist; it has it all to some degree.
It is though the constant underlying theme of a government subjugating its own people for the sake of absolute power and the responsibilities on the individual not to allow this to happen which appeals to me. A rule of oppression through fear seen in the eyes and emotions of the players and fought against by a terrorist in hero's clothing, it's cracking stuff and certainly recommended. So in the words of another comic book tyrant... "Be Pure, Be Vigilant, Behave!".
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- In Movie Experience - Director's Notebook.