There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the mess you could see. Every Friday, The Verge's Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by sorting the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
V for Vendetta, the adaptation of the 2006 film of the politically charged graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd. In a dystopian future England, the film Natalie Portman plays as an idealistic young woman Evey Hammond, who becomes a protégé of & # 39; V & # 39 ;, an anarchist revolutionary (Hugo Weaving) in a Guy Fawkes mask. The original comic book series debuted in the UK in the early 1980s, as a furious response to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's authoritarian tendency – and in particular the country's increasing intolerance to its ethnic minorities and LGBTQ citizens. When the collected edition of V for Vendetta was published at the end of the decade, the alliance with the same adventurous adult-fantasy fans that devoured Moore & # 39; s previous deconstructions of pulp adventure, in his comic book series Marsh thing, Wonderman and Watchmen.
Why watch now?
Because Damon Lindelof & # 39; s new TV series version of Watchmen debuts on Sunday evening at HBO.
This new series is a direct sequel to Moore & # 39; s groundbreaking graphic comic from DC Comics, illustrated by artist David Gibbons. The main storyline of the show takes place thirty years after the events of the book. (Or in other words, about now.) Imagine, in a future where the laws against masked civil guards are now being aggressively enforced, HBO & # 39; s Watchmen is partly about the police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a violent massacre of police officers led to a new law obliging the police to wear masks, and leading detectives to take on full costumes and people in civic guard style. The Tulsa police are confronted with the growing threat from a militant white supremacist organization – disguised themselves, inspired by the Ku Klux Klan and the tortured anti-hero Rorschach.
This starting point is only a starting point for Lindelof, who is best known for the equally ambitious TV fantasy / drama & # 39; s Lost and The leftovers. In both series, the larger stories were divided into character-driven episodes that tell their own discrete stories. Lindelof's technique is fairly faithful to the structure of Moore and Gibbons' book, which also gives each issue of the comic its own satisfying bow. Watchmen& # 39; s first season of nine episodes jumps around in time and location and reveals the larger picture through fascinating individual fragments that gradually come together.
However, do not expect Lindelof & # 39; s admiration for Moore's work to be mutual. Alan Moore famously loathes seeing his comics adapted to the screen. After several bad experiences, he was asked to remain unmentioned (and unpaid) for all future film and TV versions. He protested vocally during the promotion campaign for V for Vendetta, when the producers claimed that he had approved the film. Although he would have preferred not to mention the issue, Moore felt compelled to criticize the changes made by director James McTeigue and writer-producers Lana and Lilly Wachowski, who updated the social commentary of his book to make it more relevant to George W. Bush – strongly armed in the fight against terrorism.
And yet of all film versions of Moore & # 39; s work, V for Vendetta is the most creatively successful. Zack Snyder & # 39; s 2009 Watchmen film is slavishly more faithful to the visual style and dialogue of the source material, but the attempt to streamline the story in a feature film flattens much of the nuance. Because V for Vendetta was originally serialized in episodes of six to eight pages in the journal science-fiction comics anthology warriorIn some respects, it is better suited for a film in which the chapters can be played as scenes of normal length, interrupted by gloomy ironic twists. Plus, often in the comic book V for Vendetta, Moore and Lloyd seem to find the conspiracy as they continue. The film version already has an explosive end point and the filmmakers carefully build on it.
For who it is
Wachowski fans and anyone who likes provocative vigilante adventures.
McTeigue and the Wachowskis not only adapted Moore and Lloyd V for Vendetta, they also brought design elements from other dystopian science fiction films, such as Brazil and the version of 1984 assisted by writer-director Michael Radford. They also nodded to the increasing influence of crypto-fascists and state media in geopolitics and determined their version of V for Vendetta in a UK in 2032, where the leading TV network works hand in hand with a dictatorial Chancellor (John Hurt) to prevent social deviants and political dissidents from having a voice.
Because of all that, the film has had an impact that goes beyond the graphic novel. V for Vendetta fans who know nothing about the comic – or Guy Fawkes, by the way – are inspired by the screen version and have has taken over the mask and message for many different types of protests against those in power. From Occupy Wall Street to Arab Spring to Anonymous, the image of V in the film remains.
But apart from a few adjustments (some important, some just cosmetic), the essence of the story comes directly from the book. V for Vendetta is mainly about the training of Evey, who – in the graphic novel and the most compelling series – is completely emotionally and physically broken down, so that she can understand how important it is to keep a piece of free thought. The details vary between the page and the screen, but the loud, challenging support for human individuality echoes over both.
Where to see it
Netflix. For another fairly loyal Alan Moore adaptation, the Justice League unlimited episode "For the Man Who Has Everything" offers a shortened but still effective animated version of one of Moore & # 39; s Superman stories. It is available through DC Universe.