This week’s wide releases highlight a rarely-tread path in modern cinema, as both pics feature two of America’s sweethearts — every geek’s fave, Natalie Portman, and cute little Amanda Bynes — enduring two very different boyish makeovers, with two very different results. Will "Vendetta" live up to the hype? Can a girly "Man" make teens swoon for Shakespeare? The scribes will tell us!
Ah, the hype. "V for Vendetta," arguably the year’s first event movie, has been generating the loudest buzz for months — and critics say it’s justified. Produced by the Wachowski brothers (masters of the Matrices), and starring Natalie Portman and a fully masked Hugo Weaving, "Vendetta" tells the story of a near-future dystopia, where a lone freedom fighter named V (Weaving) plots a series of revolutionary bombings to bring down a shady, secretly policed government. Along the way, V recruits young, frightened Evey (Portman), shaves her head, and turns her into a proper young revolutionary. The scribes say this political thriller is high on politics as well as thrills, with a few stunning set pieces augmenting an austere, yet stylish, mise-en-scene; however, the incendiary tone of its politics — which have been labeled terrorist-like by some — is more than a bit difficult for some to stomach in this post-9/11 day and age. Nevertheless, "V for Vendetta" is enjoying Fresh status with a 68% score on the Tomatometer, and the critical mass urges at least one thought-provoking viewing.
Faring worse at the hands of the critics, "She’s The Man" is a teen-oriented take on Shakespeare’s gender-bender "Twelfth Night," from two of the writers of a better Bard treatment, "10 Things I Hate About You." TV teen queen Amanda Bynes stars as Viola, a prep school tomboy who decides to impersonate her twin brother Sebastian in order to play on his soccer team. Donning a short wig and boy’s clothing, Viola infiltrates Illyria Prep, but soon falls for her dreamy roommate, who’s crushing on a pretty blonde, who has the hots for the undercover Viola; hilarity and sexual confusion ensue. Unfortunately, the scribes say this comedy of errors is just that, with an erratic comic timing, unbelievable plotlines, and too-broad jokes that make you feel embarrassed for Bynes — the actress, not her character. At 50% on the Tomatometer, "She’s" not quite "The Man."
Recent Big-Screen Graphic Novel Adaptations
38% — Art School Confidential (2006)
87% — A History of Violence (2005)
78% — Sin City (2005)
18% — The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
95% — American Splendor (2003)
83% — Road to Perdition (2002)
92% — Ghost World (2001)
56% — From Hell (2001)