Dissent in Totality

In 2006, V for Vendetta latched onto a prevailing terrorist paranoia. Little in the script was untruthful. Blabbering right wing mouthpieces dominate televisions. Politicians outlawed the Muslim faith. Detention facilities locked up “undesirables.” Pervasive government surveillance disguise itself as protection. And, getting ahead of itself, a virus killed 80,000 people, breaking British society. In that, V for Vendetta was far too low in its count.

As a piece of pop superhero-ish cinema, V for Vendetta takes a grander stance than most. It’s based in hyper-intellectualism, defense of the undefended, and absolute righteousness in tearing down the systems controlling society.

V for Vendetta takes a grander stance than most

But it’s broad. Too broad. In a fight against totalitarian regimes, V for Vendetta violently lashes out, a centrist stance that sees no good in anything, a hero fighting from a fatalistic perspective and lacking nuance to separate injustice from inequality from dictatorships from police states; everything is terrible, and the solution to everything is a bomb.

V for Vendetta looks at the world from from a leftist view. In this reality, a not-vaguely Nazi government secures power through a notably right-pushing propaganda machine in cahoots with a religious zealotry. Yet it’s also an accusatory film, somber in showing what happens to those still sitting on their couches, knowing this is all nonsense but never doing anything. Inevitably, any real world uprising brings a Guy Fawkes mask along somewhere in the crowd, no matter the cause. Claim it’s for historical reasons, but Hollywood’s allure reaches vocal 20-somethings more than British history books.

In the conspiratorial background, every policy and every leader pulls on the other in this pervasive tug-of-war, aiming to better only themselves. That’s true of all, including the prime time news anchor who watches his own show as he showers. V (Hugo Weaving) never seeks power or control; he barely unmasks, hidden as to become a representative of all. Smartly, that’s not hypocrisy – V doesn’t cloak himself out of fear – rather a need to be unidentifiable as to be anyone of any gender or race. Or also, ideology.

Big budget glossiness batters some of the thematic resonance. Here’s a movie projecting outrage over invisible programming that controls society, but following the Warner Bros. logo. V doesn’t seem like the contemporary theater-going type, even as a classic cinema fan. And, dealing in such smug intellectualism, as if believing a violent, verbose tear down solves civilization’s woes makes one a better person, V for Vendetta fails. It’s not a story of solutions, just grandiose gestures that look splendid on film. In a sense, inspiring, but ultimately too uncertain of where it stands.

V for Vendetta 4K UHD screen shot

Video

As an example of HDR’s superior range, V for Vendetta makes a statement for this format. While not a movie dealing in blindingly bright contrast by design, those moments where it’s allowed look spectacular. In a dark room, Adam Sutler’s towering image glows to an awesome extreme. Fireworks erupt at dazzling highs, and knives reflect light when unsheathed with brilliant flares.

Then black levels, dominating where needed, better resolved than before, and certainly richer. Compare the scene with V and Evey on the roof for the first time. The Blu-ray exists in a murky blue shadow; the UHD is solid black, and no loss of definition. V’s costume brings a notable challenge, yet one easily handled by this disc.

Warner notes this master is new. Certainly in color grading it is, punchier where vibrancy is needed, more naturally muted as necessary. Cool tones tend to prevail, countered by those scenes in V’s home, skewing warm.

However, this isn’t a disc dealing in precision. Cinematography skews softer. That’s fine, but more than that, grain structure doesn’t capture the typical pinpoint nature of 4K scans. V for Vendetta looks akin to a 70mm blow-up of a 35mm source. Other than a struggle during a hazy newroom raid (smoke bombs flooding the image), encoding doesn’t cause concern, just the supposed 4K mastering. The result looks like an upscale.

Audio

2020 doesn’t have the summer blockbusters to offer, but thankfully, the Atmos remix on V for Vendetta brings that quality. Along with 300, Warner scores back-to-back hits in terms of LFE, and V for Vendetta is the tops in that battle. Ridiculously powerful range expands into low Hzs, disappointing only in the final moments as the bombs go off – and disappointing only in the sense everything prior was so intense, that boom feels flat in comparison. Kicked in doors, punches, music stings, thunder; anything willing to activate the subwoofer does, minus any fear. It’s all-out material.

Small touches bring slight extensions when placed against the TrueHD track on Blu-ray. Requisite rain/storm effects fill the soundstage, overheads too. PA systems blare announcements into each channel. Fast as they are, fights track metallic strikes from knives. Gunshots find a home somewhere as they pass, expertly tracked, along with a kick in the lows.

Extras

Warner introduces new bonuses on the UHD, and only the UHD as the Blu-ray is unchanged from before. Director James McTeigue sits down with writer Lana Wachowski for a retrospective conversation and it’s fascinating to hear them dissect the movie over 13-minutes. Next, Natalie Portman’s audition runs 14-minutes. There’s an older EPK after that, while the rest (four featurettes, pop-up features, SNL skit) reside on the Blu.

V for Vendetta
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

V for Vendetta’s world only gained in relevance over time, but its centrist, even fatalistic perspective never finds a solution.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 53 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: