V For Vendetta appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Like the movie itself, this transfer came as a disappointment.
Sharpness created many of the concerns. Though much of the film displayed more than adequate definition, matters faltered more often than I’d expect. The flick more than occasionally came across as moderately soft and indistinct. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, but some light edge enhancement appeared. While I witnessed no source flaws, I thought grain was a bit too prominent.
With its subdued palette, Vendetta didn’t demand much of its colors. The film stayed with a fairly monotone scheme that favored browns and other earth tones. These were acceptably delineated but not terribly impressive. Blacks tended to seem somewhat inky, and shadows could be a bit murky and indistinct. They were acceptable most of the time, but they made the movie less clear than anticipated. At no time did Vendetta become less than watchable, it lacked the clarity and punch I expected from a modern, big-budget flick.
At least the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of V For Vendetta proved more satisfying. Much more satisfying, in fact, as the mix was quite dynamic. The soundfield opened up the spectrum in an impressive manner. The many action sequences presented lively elements that surfaced from all five channels. The information blended well and created a vivid setting for the material. Explosive scenes worked best, as they used the surrounds and sides to immerse us in the blasts.
Audio quality always remained solid. Dialogue seemed distinct and concise, and I noticed no signs of edginess or other flaws. Music was crisp and vibrant. The score showed good range and clarity at all times. Effects were similarly full and clean. They lacked distortion and presented more than adequate low-end material. This was exactly the kind of strong mix that should come with a movie of this sort.
For this two-DVD package, we get a mix of extras. On Disc One, we find Freedom! Forever! Making V For Vendetta. This 15-minute and 55-second featurette presents the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from co-creator David Lloyd, producer Joel Silver, director James McTeigue, production designer Owen Paterson, and actors Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Steven Fry, Stephen Rea, Roger Allam, Sinead Cusack, Rupert Graves and Hugo Weaving.
We learn about the development of the project and the adaptation of the graphic novel, the flick’s theme, tone, and story, characters and performances, and the film’s political commentary. The title “Making V For Vendetta” doesn’t fit the content, as we learn precious little about the film’s actual creation. Instead, the program sticks with more thoughtful, philosophical material. That factor means “Freedom” manages to become more involving than the usual promotional featurette. It seems too brief to truly investigate the movie’s ideas, but it’s an interesting teaser.
As we move to Disc Two, we get three more programs. Designing the Near Future lasts 17 minutes and 10 seconds as it includes remarks from McTeigue, Paterson, Portman, Silver, Weaving, supervising art director Kevin Phipps, set decorator Peter Walpole, costume designer Sammy Sheldon, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, model unit supervisor Jose Granell, model unit crew Nigel Trevessey, and supervising location manager Nicholas Daubeney.
“Future” looks mostly at sets, locations, and production design. We find out why they shot in Berlin and notes related to that choice. We also learn about specifics of the various sets and other visual elements like costumes, props and effects. “Future” covers these issues well and offers solid discussions of why the filmmakers chose the various pieces. It gives us a tight and consistently engaging look at the material, so it definitely deserves a look.
A view of history comes to us via Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. This 10-minute and 15-second show features Fry, Allam, Portman, Cusack, Investigating the Gunpowder Plot author Mark Nicholls, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics author Paul Hammer, A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707 author David Smith, and Gunpowder Plot Society president David Herber. The participants cover the facts behind the Plot and give us a taut little synopsis of that subject. You might even want to watch this show before you check out Vendetta as its presentation of history may help flesh out the story.
For the final featurette, we find the 14-minute and 38-second England Prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave In Comics. We hear from Silver, Lloyd, Fry, McTeigue, Vertigo executive editor Karen Berger, comic book authors/artists Bill Sienkiewicz, Paul Chadwick and Geoff Darrow, and DC Comics president and publisher Paul Levitz.
As implied by the title, it looks at trends in modern graphic novels. It looks at the original Vendetta comic and traces the development of the genre over the decades. We see how the comics opened up more in the Seventies and Eighties as they led into darker, more unusual titles. We also get a look at British comics of the era and the rise of smaller publishers. All of this takes us to the creation, development and execution of Vendetta. “Wave” is too short to offer a rich history of graphic novels, but it throws out more than enough useful details to succeed. It’s a good little glimpse of the project’s history and issues.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a Cat Power Montage. “I Found a Reason” lasts for two minutes as it combines that tune with clips from the movie. This means it gives us nothing more than a really cheap music video.
Ambitious and unusual, I admire V For Vendetta more for what it attempts than what it does. It shoots for the moon but succeeds too sporadically to become a consistently successful effort. The DVD provides terrific audio but suffers from bland picture quality and lacks many extras, though what we get is pretty good. I think just highly enough of Vendetta to recommend at least a rental, but don’t yell at me if it disappoints you.
Note that you can buy either this two-disc Special Edition of V for Vendetta or a single-DVD edition. While this one retails for about $35, the more basic release lists for $29. The cheaper set loses the second platter of extra but still includes DVD One’s featurette. I’d advise purchasers to go with whichever one they find for the least money. I like the extras on DVD Two, but they’re not substantial enough to merit much additional cost.