V FOR VENDETTA is a movie that was critically acclaimed and a moderate success at the box office. It utilized comic imagery taken from its graphic novel source and explored political themes involving neo-fascism. Despite all its accolades, novel writer Alan Moore is open about his dismissal over the film, rumored to refuse any royalties from profits and to be uncredited. This is not surprising as he expressed similar displeasure for previous adaptations like From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Written by the Wachowskis (The Matrix) and directed by James McTeigue (The Raven), V FOR VENDETTA still feels uncomfortably relevant and Warner Bros is now delivering a 4K upgrade giving more than enough reason to revisit this gem.
Set in the near future, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is rushing to a dinner during a totalitarian Britain past curfew, also in the middle of pandemic. While she initially thinks she’s about to face legal consequences after being stopped by secret police, it’s quickly apparent that they are going to use their power and rape her out in the open. V, a vigilante sporting a Guy Fawkes mask, saves her and invites her to witness the destruction of the Old Bailey. The government take responsibility of the incident, prompting V to take over the TV network for which Evey works for. It’s there he spreads his message of rebellion, in hopes of sparking a revolution. This is a government that oppresses their people and V is willing to die for them.
Although not your traditional superhero that we see now with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, V FOR VENDETTA was an R-rated comic book movie before it was cool. However, its focus isn’t on splashing onto the screen blood drenched violence (although, yes, there is violence), this movie reaches its audience with themes that were taboo even during its release in 2005.
While there’s not a lot to show off, this 4K release does improve on the original Blu-ray version from over ten years ago. Most noticeable are the scenes featuring explosions. The Old Bailey scene was probably the first moment where I saw the visuals pop, allowing the grand opening to shine bright for V’s message. It looks natural, but the real improvement here is the new Dolby Atmos track. While dialogue is always clear and to the front, the iconic music cues soar across the speakers and will engulf consumers the way they love to be.
In addition to the technical upgrades, there’s some extras exclusive to this release. A short, but effective conversation between Lana Wachowski and McTeigue in included, delving into the themes and how they feel personal to them. “V For Vendetta Unmasked” was a TV special about the making of the film is included, never available on previous releases. This helps make up for no definitive documentary out there. A nice treat is the inclusion of Portman’s audition tapes. Viewed VHS style, it’s rare to be able to witness an established star apply for a high profile job. The original Blu-ray release is included, still intact with the viral SNL skit where Portman shows off her rap skills.
Warner Bros definitely thought this new release through, not only dropping it on 2020 election day, but coincidentally falls during the celebrated week of November fifth. V FOR VENDETTA is a definitive package for fans of the novel and film, offering both some technical upgrades and new extras. V FOR VENDETTA is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital.