Review: V for Vendetta

Just got back from watching the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta. I have mixed feelings but it was enjoyable and a lot better than I had feared it might be especially given my feelings for the previous adaptation of a comic that was close to my heart Hellblazer which became the painful Constantine.

I thought that Hugo Weaving was very powerful as V and Stephen Rea did a great job as Inspector Finch. Natalie Portman was merely adequate as Evey and her accent was not as awful as some have written but she was a little wooden in her performance. I thought Stephen Fry was remarkably good also, other characters such as Chancellor Sutler were too poorly written to allow much from the other actors in the cast.

The movie lasted two hours and yet it felt like a lot had been edited out. There was very little characterisation outside of the central few main characters all the others seemed like stereotypes painted in broad strokes. Some events such as what happened that night at Larkhill which enabled V to escape were glossed over as was Finch’s visit to the derelict Larkhill.

I think the general mood of the film was established well, it was visually stunning and there were a number of very powerful scenes especially the fingerman’s shooting of the girl and the subsequent uprising of the townspeople.

In many ways the movie felt like it was set in some parallel universe version of Britain rather than a dystopic near future of our own Britain, possibly due to it being an American production. The Britain of the movie was very twee and a little off, Rupert Graves as a copper using the word “chummy” when apprehending V, eggy in a basket and the Benny Hillesque TV satirical attack on the Chancellor.

A number of things in the movie make me feel like the points of the original graphic novel were lost or misunderstood by the writers. V was too overly made to be identified with Guy Fawkes who in the introductory scene is portrayed as a freedom fighter rather than the religious nutcase that he actually was. I thought that the Guy Fawkes mask in the graphic novel was a useful disguise which was merely appropriate given the date of key events in the story and a shared interest in blowing up public buildings. But the motivations of V and Guy Fawkes are in no way the same.

In fact Guy Fawkes has more in common with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists our society is being made to fear at the moment. The character of V is different but is no hero either really he is a force for change through destruction, rebirthing society by destroying it’s institutions so something better can be born out of the ashes.

The surveillance aspects were altered and there was no sight of surveillance cameras in the movie odd given their ubiquitousness in modern Britain and given the totalitarianism surely there should be even more in evidence. Plus the populace do not seem cowed by the authorities, living in constant fear of speaking out of turn. Certainly this so called dystopia is to my eyes a lot deal better than we can really hope to expect several years down the line from now once we have a National Identity Register, cameras that can scan our faces to identify us and track our movements and legislation that gives the ruling party pretty much free reign to do whatever it wishes.

Review: Syriana

I saw Syriana today and I’d have to agree with every single point that my friend Abhi made about it. He wrote:

Syriana is a brilliant film. Deeply flawed in some ways (packs in too much material and some characterization suffers as a result, as does the film’s lucidity) but the strengths render these quite irrelevant IMHO. There are some brilliant performances (Clooney is sublime, even with limited screen time) and the screenplay is ambitious as all hell. Its about time a movie like this came along. Its scathing and realistic and unabashedly political and pulls no punches. Also features one of the more stomach churning torture scenes I have seen.

The issues of corruption and US foreign policy influencing domestic policies in Middle Eastern states is a complex one and too much to fit into a movie of this length but I think it managed very well to cover all it’s bases even if that meant that the pacing was off at times and characterisations were broad strokes for many characters.

I think the message is more than just that oil companies act reprehensibly. Of course they do they are large multinational companies they’ll do whatever turns a profit and to do that as an oil company means corrupting or influencing governments. The message also is that our governments let them behave this way because it is believed it is in the best interests of our nations (both the US and the UK) for them to do so. This is kind of paralleled with the movie The Constant Gardener but in that it is pharmaceutical companies.

Review: Lost season 1 finale

I was thrilled but also a little disappointed by the final episodes of Lost last night.

We got to see a little more of the nature of the monster in the jungle and yet it is still a mystery in fact more of a mystery now as what I had thought that it was was proved not to be accurate.

We finally got to see The Others and they appear to be just yet another group of survivors but separate from those of Flight 815 and Danielle’s crew. In fact the island seems to have attracted many different groups of people over the years what with the Nigerian drug smuggling priests and then The Black Rock which appears to be a very old ship that somehow ended up 2 miles inland.

So The Others appear to be just a group of survivors that have been on the island for longer than even the 16 years of Danielle. Yet they are are armed and have a boat with a motor plus they seem to posses knowledge about Walt’s abilities.

I was left feeling there wasn’t enough resolution to plot threads and yet more questions have arisen in my mind. But I’m gripped enough to make the wait til spring for the start of season 2 seem almost unbearable at the moment. But I’m worried that due to the nature of US television we’ll never get that final resolution, it will just be dragged out for years and years and then the series will get cancelled.

Review: Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek

I think Wolf Creek is more disturbing for the fact that it was a small budget movie the acting seemed naturalistic and the whole production lacked the Hollywood gloss.

I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I might be having heard so much good stuff about it but thought there were some really good moments in it.

Got me to wondering though about how different is Mick from the normal member of society. Can he just be written off as a psychopath or would many blokes put into a similar isolated environment and given the opportunity to get away with horrific crimes do exactly the same?

Plus the other side of the equation having been abducted but then gotten free somehow what would the average person do? Would they flee, save their friends or would they seek out their abductor to get act out some retribution?

In Liz’s situation after she’s shot Mick in the neck I think I would have made sure he was definitely dead. If the gun was empty now I’d find some tool like a spade and gave the bastards head until it was just a smear of gore on the floor.

Reading the user comments for the movie at IMDB is quite interesting as there seems to be a large split between those that loved it and those that thought it was rubbish.

Also it seems many users are not understanding the concept of being based on true events not actually meaning that it is totally accurately portraying the events that really happened.

I also admit the TRUE STORY part had me intrigued as I’m sure they could not make this stuff up. At the end however, and this is the big spoiler, one guy does escape. However he was incapacitated/unconscious and unseeing of all the other torturing and chasing going on for the whole ENTIRE movie, and the authorities reveal how none of the bodies were ever found, nor was any evidence, or a bad guy. So how the hell is this a true story? This only victim that escaped certainly didn’t know what happened, other than his friends did not return. That pretty much leaves the director/writer or whoever to make the whole thing up. Right? Think about it if you’ve seen the movie.

Okay mate how about you look up the meaning of the phrase artistic licence and then read the following about Ivan Milat, the real Australian serial killer upon which the killer in the movie was loosely based.

Review: Sahara

Sahara

Just watched Sahara which I thought was a cracking movie despite the poor reviews it’s received.

Yeah so it’s got plotholes the size of craters from meteor strikes and it ain’t going to win any Oscars but it did exactly what it said on the tin in my opinion.

Just a very enjoyable action adventure.

The pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn works really well, totally believable as friends since being kids. Zahn was great not just a comedy sidekick but a balls to the wall action hero in his own right.

Lost

Best night of television in months, the beginning of Lost was brilliant and engrossing. Many mysteries including a Polar bear on a Pacific island and a repeating message in French which is calculated to have been playing for 16 years. The first revelation of the series is that Kate is the prisoner that was being returned to the United States, but why is yet to come.

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Review: Identity Theft: What it is, How to Prevent it, and What to Do if it Happens to You

Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing reviews the book Identity Theft: What it is, How to Prevent it, and What to Do if it Happens to You

Hamadi assembles dozens of identity-theft cases in short narrative form, like little cautionary tales, and then strings them together with some interconnecting material to show you who commits identity theft, who falls victim to it, how identity thieves work, and what steps are most likely to mitigate the threats.

Amazon.co.uk link

Review: The Power of Nightmares

I watched the first part of a three-part documentary series titled The Power of Nightmares on BBC 2 early tonight.

This series shows dramatically how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. These two groups have changed the world but not in the way either intended. Together they created today’s nightmare vision of an organised terror network. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. Those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

I would urge everyone to see this if you get the chance as well as watching Errol Morris’s documentary film The Fog of War.

I’ve been saying this for a while but the concept of a War on Terror is nonsensical because not only is it a war on an abstract concept but you cannot defeat terrorists by waging war anyway. We are not at any greater risk of terrorism since 9/11 than we were before, that’s not to say that there is no danger but that it is of the same level as it ever was.

To really combat terrorism requires the typical cloak and dagger stuff that the security services do such as surveillance, wiretapping and infiltration of suspect groups. Plus increasing the security of likely targets of terrorist attacks in a manner that not only appears like you are doing something to improve security but actually does improve security.

But it isn’t easy to sell to the public that you are doing everything possible to combat terrorism if nothing is appears to be happening. Foiling a terrorist attack isn’t something that can revealed to the public in many cases at it could hamper future operations. So for the governments to appear to their citizens that they are effective in this they need to go and wage war in the name of combating terrorism even if the enemy in these wars are only tangentially connected to terrorism if at all.