A film of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta
Directed by Michael Bay

CULTURE MEISTER REPORT:
Bay’s “V For Vendetta” a Star-Spangled Treat
by Michael A. Cavagnaro

Well, “it shows to go ya,” you never can tell.
Confession time: I don’t read comic books, and I’m not too big on their cinematic adaptations, either. The molded plastic nipples on Batman outfit really bugged me – a lot! Furthermore, what’s up with the Hulk being so gol-durned mad all the time? I mean, get some professional help. Call me. I know a guy!

And, scene. A slight, awkwardly misshapen figure is attempting to pull himself from the twisted wreckage of the Two Towers. (No, not those. The ones from New Yawk!) We can’t see his face in the maelstrom of twisting smoke and shadow. His fingers frantically scrabble for something, anything to grip in his futile travail. And then, there She is – Old Glory, tattered and beaten, just... outside... of... his... grasp...

The music swells.

No, I hadn’t heard of Alan Moore either, but his is the fertile imagination from which sprung the comic book bases for shocking 2001 slasher film “From Hell” (SPOILER: who’d have thunk Bilbo had it in him?) and last year’s wacky X-Men-from-the-19th-Century action film “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
Long rumored to be a “virtual” done deal with the Watchowski brothers (”The Matrix Revolutions”), pun intended, the licensing of “V For Vendetta” passed from that beleaguered duo to another equally talented pair of Hollywood types, well-known director/producer team Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. Having already stretched their patriotic muscles on the WWII-era period piece “Pearl Harbor,” it’s no less than a given that these guys know where it’s at for bare-knuckle American cinema. Bay and Bruckheimer took it upon themselves to boil the story down to its bare essentials, and filter out a few “British colloquialisms” which would not, in their opinion, translate to an American audience. Perhaps Bruckheimer put it best in a recent interview: “For instance, you know, the fascism aspect. But it took us a few months to tinker with the idea, but in the end, we realized that simply put, this is about a man fighting for love of his country. And in this day and age – I mean, tell me. Who can’t identify with that?”

It is ten years later. The slight man, now masked and draped in the very same flag which rescued him from certain death, raises his fist to the billboard proclaiming Moammar Al Faisshar as Golden Indulgent Shah of Nouveau America. Raising cape to cowl, he executes a flawless jackknife dive from the blasphemous icon, which explodes in exultant glory behind him! His rasping voice can be heard repeating “God bless America,” endlessly, soulfully, above the din of the gathering crowd. A few ragtag tarnished, kindred souls join in.

The music swells.

In comic book and movie alike, the ultimate identity of the protagonist V is kept a secret. Characteristically, the bombastic Bruckheimer takes it a step further. “On the credits, there is no actor listed as portraying ‘V.’ There’s just a blank there. You know? Because that’s you and me on the screen, fighting for justice in America. That’s our grandmothers. That’s Joe Edwards from next door.”
Bay, usually the silent partner, agrees. “Seriously. All exaggeration aside, this is one hell of a movie.”
(FYI, kids – our money’s on Mr. David Hyde Pierce in the titular role.)

Climax: the slight man’s crumpled form lays silent for a moment, his ultimate victory having also created his undoing. His young ward Jenny, resplendent in her brightly colored cape, kneels next to him. He removes his mask, but she refuses to look at his face. “No,” she screams to the wind. “You are not mine – you are an American, V!” Then it is over. Mask in hand, Jenny sobs for the loss of her friend, for his lifeless form in her arms. She covers the man’s body with the fabric of the Lady he loved so dearly. Then she hears it in her head, almost a whisper at first. “God bless America.” Filled with a certain power, and raising the mask to her face, she stands. “God bless America!” V is dead, and reborn. “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

The music swells – and our hearts with it.

CAV’S RATING: FOUR AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS!

(Entry by Michael A. Cavagnaro)