Wednesday, March 29, 2006

H for Hack

Speaking of V for Vendetta (and with apologies to reader Marina), what do you do if you're a critic, and you're asked to write about comic books, because they're the new thing, but you don't know Jim Shooter from Jim Lee?

Wired's Jason Silverman:

The Wachowskis adapted the screenplay from Alan Moore's acid, richly layered comic, written in the early 1980s. Controversial long before 9/11, the original Vendetta follows an embittered anarchist-terrorist as he tries to spark a revolution by, in part, dynamiting government buildings.
In related news, Animal Farm is a richly layered meditation on the nature of communism! I, too, got a liberal arts degree without reading the assigned books.

I liked V for Vendetta fine, but it doesn't hold a candle to Moore's Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Tom Strong, Top 10 or Marvelman (aka Miracleman). Compared to these, V is heavy-handed and shallow, and I'd wager that most readers who made their way to comics through Dan Clowes, Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware would agree.

Silverman:

... Vendetta [the film] is too vague to pack much political punch. Hollywood, with its congenital fear of alienating anyone, manages to dilute the comic book's radical, complex vision.

What's left is a fuzzy, pandering film. What are its lessons? Totalitarianism is bad. People power is good. Unless you aren't quite sure where to stand on the whole Hitler-Nazi-Holocaust thing, Vendetta is unlikely to evolve your worldview.

Yeah, I read The Stranger, professor. It was radical, complex.

The Vendetta book allows for a few moments when the hero's violence to his oppressive government targets seems inhuman. But it'd be hard for the movie to be any more pro-terrorism than the book was. After all, people are saying that the movie plays down Natalie Portman's metamorphosis to inherit the role of revolutionary killer, and isn't she the real protagonist, the audience stand-in?
Blogger a Reader on Thu Mar 30, 10:29:00 AM:
ooooh, Watchmen!
(that's all you get - murmurs of admiration, no real debate... but did you notice in the guardian comment
here http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_boaz/2006/03/liberty_on_stage_and_screen.html
that Boaz thinks the film addresses "the willingness of most people to endure much loss of liberty"? That was the part that I felt robbed of - I thought the film barely touched on it, whereas the book clumps all over it with big boots on.)