Jonathan on... V For Vendetta

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I come to V for Vendetta with a background that could be described as 'informed' (or as 'geeky' by those who fail to appreciate the ways in which an obsessive interest in comic books can enrich the life of even the most well-rounded individual).

Though I believe the original comic to be a little over-rated, it certainly had a topical edge when it appeared in the early 1980s. The Prime Minister of the day was busy giving the country the smack of firm government and there was little effective opposition to be seen and 1984 was just around the corner.

Fast forward to 2006 and for all the complaints about the nanny state, that resonance has ebbed away. And trust me, that's the least of the problems for this film, which is misconceived from opening titles to end credits.

Nothing, but nothing, works. For a start, Hugo Weaving is given an impossible task in playing a hero who spends the entire film behind a full face mask, and is therefore incapable of visual expression. It's a notion which is perfectly acceptable in a comic book, and deadly on film.

As the heroine, Natalie Portman just isn't up to the task, failing in even the most basic requirements of the role, such as providing a consistent and credible accent. Around her, a cast of notable and familiar talents such as John Hurt and Stephen Ray stand little chance amid the wreckage of the Wachowski siblings' dismal script and its particularly poor dialogue.

And unlike so many fantasy adventure films, the visuals don't offer any compensation for the shortcomings of the screenplay. Despite postponing the release date from last November to allow more time for post-production work, the film looks cheap and lacks any sense of time or place.

Throw in Matrix veteran James McTeigue's flat direction and you have a woeful, depressing failure. If it had been called V for Vasectomy I could scarcely have found it a less enjoyable experience, so please don't let your curiosity get the better of you when it arrives down your way.