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Considered by many to be one of the best in the genre, V is a
Airing during 'May Sweeps' on NBC over two nights, the mini-series was a surprise ratings smash. Critically praised for it's introspective tale with strong themes, the special effects were top-notch, particularly for television of the time.
NBC had taken a gamble with this cutting-edge, creative, and creepy alien-invasion story that pays off in some memorable performances from members of the large cast.
Twenty-plus years later, Kenneth Johnson's epic V holds up extremely well, it's message of resistance and sacrifice being ever more relevant in this Post- 9/11 world.
Made-For-TV movies of today are poorly acted, exaggerated and make you happy you have a remote control, so you can quickly change channels to X-Files reruns. However back in the 80's many TV movies were brilliant including this one. "V" takes you on an adventure where some aliens try to become friendly with humans and then rip us off. Except they're not after our silverware or jewelry they want the real important stuff like water, and I'm not talking about a couple gallons of Evian. I am talking about the entire world supply. Take time to enjoy a mini-series that will stand for all time. Great performances by all players. Kudos to Marc Singer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was 11 and 12 years old when V first aired. It was on late at night, so I
wasn't allowed to stay up and watch it. I taped the show and I would get up
at five the next day to watch the adventures of Donovan and company before I
went to school. Now granted, I loved TV when I was a kid but nothing
captivated me like V. I couldn't get enough of this show. And seeing as it
went on for two years, those of us that saw the show were quite frustrated
as we waited for the Final Battle to be introduced to us. But that is
another review. As for V, it was unlike anything I had ever
Kenneth Johnson introduced us to the situation, it's characters and the tyranny and then he cut us off. He made the first two episodes and as the show ended with Elias spray painting the wall, you sat there and said, "that's it?" You just knew that the Final Battle would have to be made to sum it up and finish the series. And when you think about it, I'll bet this series could have made so much more money if it had been made into a major motion picture. You could have had five movies from this mini-series. But as it stands, you have a five part mini series that just knocked everyone out back in the early 80's.
This series came out 10 years before ID4 and the similarities are astounding. But I really believe that this does it so much better. Right from the beginning we are hurled into the story when Donovan and Tony are in El Salvador or Nicaragua or whatever, and they witness the giant spacecraft hovering over the earth. From there we meet the leaders of the aliens and we are introduced to some of the key players. The set up is great but what makes it so compelling is that none of the people that form resistance groups are super-men or larger than life super-heroes. They are regular, common people that band together for a common cause. Sure many of them are doctors and scientists but you also have the elderly, a cameraman, a Mexican truck driver, a thief, and kids, black, white, jews, christians, atheists and a plethora of others. This makes you feel as though it is somewhat real and the events which are taking place are actually possible. A great touch was Abraham, the elderly Jewish man that is one of the first to take in and hide some so called "fugitives" on the run. He equates the reign of the Visitors as nothing more than Hitleresque imprisonment. He tells his son that when he was eight days old he had to be smuggled in a suitcase in order to flee the Nazi's and that alone should make them want to help.
V introduces and teases us with everything that the Final Battle is going to encompass. Think of the first two V's as Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. They set up Jedi as does V set up Final Battle. I really and truly think that this is the best mini-series ever made and it is the highlight of TV in the 80's. Watch all five back to back to back to back to back and you are in for a treat.
10 out 0f 10
I was reading a comment about this movie made by Lone Solo who states that
"V" is a metaphoric SciFi film about nazi and Holocaust. While I agree with
him I say that "V" is more than an allegory about this two topics. It is a
SciFi miniseries that contains many social comments.
First, of course, Holocaust and nazi.
Second, it shows TV as a powerful tool to reach every single soul on our planet. It also shows how TV can manipulate and brainwash people. Notice that the arrival of the aliens as every single move they do on our planet is covered on TV.
Third, it shows that people can sell their souls even to the devil when they are compensated with expensive gifts. In other words, how materialistic people are.
Fourth, how rich and fortunate we are in having a planet with valuable natural sources as water. At one point, friendly alien tells earthling rebel Donovan "Your planet is rich. I envy you."
Without any doubt, "V" is a powerful SciFi movie that not only entertains (it does it a lot) but also makes us think about our conditions as human beings.
As an interesting note, we can enjoy of a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund as a dumb but nice alien.
What more can I say..... V was simply a superb piece of work. Great special effects, great story line and a great cast. Good luck to Kenny Johnson as he tries to get V: The Next Generation off the ground. It's going to be great to see V back on the screens after over 20 years.
If a ninety-nine out of a hundred science fiction films fall into being
cliché ridden, one will stand out above the rest. V, in its original
miniseries, would be one of those that stands above the rest. V is
anything but your typical science fiction story of an alien invasion.
It is a tale of a fascist (alien) takeover of our society and the
resistance of a few in a society to it. As a result V, while a product
of the technology and culture of the 1980's, is a timeless piece of
One of the elements to V's success is its cast. Leading, so to speak, the cast of human characters are Marc Singer as cameraman Mike Donovan and Faye Grant as med-student turned rebel leader Julie Parrish. Both Singer and Grant give nice performances that, for the most part, come across as real people in extraordinary situations. In fact the performances of the entire cast be described by that last phrase as well ranging from the Maxwell family (Michael Durrell, Penelope Windust as the parents with Blair Tefkin, Viveka Davis and Marin May as their daughters) who find themselves persecuted to the point of joining the resistance much like the Taylor family (Jason Bernard, Richard Lawson and Michael Wright) to the Bernstein family (George Morfogen, Bonnie Bartlett) who find themselves torn between their Visitor friendly son Daniel (David Packer) and the Holocaust survivor grandfather Abraham (Leonardo Cimino). In fact the single best scene involves Abraham, who is wanting to hide the persecuted Maxwell's, reminding his son that this whole situation is all too familiar for the consequences of them not being hidden means "we haven't learned a thing". This is a scene that is not only well acted and well written but incredibly rare in your average science fiction story as well. There's also many other fine members of the cast including Neva Patterson (Donovan's mom), Evan Kim (Donovan's camera partner Tony), Jenny Sullivan (reporter turned Visitor spokeswoman Kristine Walsh) and Kristine Walsh (as Gardener turned rebel Sancho) amongst many others. The human side of the cast is just the tip of the iceberg though.
There's also a fine cast playing the alien "visitors" as well. They range from their seemingly benevolent leader John (played briefly and well by Richard Herd) to Andrew Prine as the authoritative Steven. Then there's the innocent abroad in the form of Robert Englund as Willie and the resistance from within the visitors themselves in the form of Frank Ashmore as Martin and Jenny Neumann as Barbara. Then there is Jane Badler as Diana, perhaps the most attractive and conniving of the alien visitors, who plays the role with a seriousness not usually found in this kind of role. Together they form one of the best, and definitely one of the most diverse, cast of alien invaders ever assembled.
V is also aided by fine work behind the camera. There's the cinematography of John McPherson especially the tracking shot of characters watching the first contact sequence and the scenes in the mother-ship. The production design in the form of the mother ship interiors are fine examples of science fiction sets. There's also the special effects work ranging from the excellent shots of mother-ships (a decade plus before Independence Day) to the aerial dogfight at the end which all work marvelously for the most part despite a very few shots which don't look quite finished. No review of V is complete without mentioned the fine prosthetic work of the miniseries which range from the Visitors true faces to some rather uncomfortable dining sequences. Last, but not least by any means, is the fine score by composer Joe Harnell which takes puts together classical music influences and choir in one of the most unusual and best scores produced for any science fiction television piece I have heard, especially for the opening and closing credits of any part. In short: strong production values go a long way.
To my mind V's ultimate success lies in the script and direction of Kenneth Johnson. V was originally conceived not as a science fiction tale of alien invasion but as the tale of a fascist takeover of the U.S which can still be found deeply embedded in the final product. In fact that is what separates V from many other alien invasion stories. V is about fascism, how people can be lured in by it, how far those in power will go to secure their position, how the average person will react and what happens when ordinary people stand up to resist it. There's also more then a few hints of Nazi Germany as well from the Swastika-like symbol of the Visitors to Friends of the Visitors youth groups (the Hitler Youth) and, before the miniseries is over with, a strong allegory with the Holocaust as well (see the miniseries to get it). Wisely Johnson also puts a fair (but not gratitude) amount of action in as well which helps to compliment the story and move it along. V is embedded in the technology and culture of the 1980's when it was made to sure but that doesn't date the story at all. Instead V becomes, like H.G. Welles War of the Worlds before it, a timeless tale of alien invasion and human resistance to it.
What makes V successful? Well it's large cast of fine actors, nice cinematography, good special effects work, excellent prosthetic work and fine score go along way. Yet the true success of V lies in its script and story. Why? Because ultimately V is not about spaceships and ray-guns but is about people and their reactions to the extraordinary events around them.
Now this is real sci-fi! Kenneth Johnsons story is (in my opinion) one
of the best ever written. While I rank The Tripods as my favourite
sci-fi adventure, this will come as a good second.
I wasn't very old when I saw V for the first time, but I can honestly say it blew me away! And even now almost 20 years later I can still watch it and be in awe like I was way back then.
And now I am just waiting for the return of V, which finally seems to be becoming reality. Hopefully it will stick to the basics and not go "overboard" like so many re-makes have done over the years. But with Kenny at the helm I doubt that will be a problem, since I happen to know that the legacy of V means a lot to him.
This is one of those rare epics that come only once in a blue moon.
This is one of the best 'First Contact' genres ever made. No movie on
the big screen so far - no, not Independence Day or even Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (amongst my favorite films, I might add)
have been able to give you the kind of goose pimples that watching 'V'
The ensemble cast with Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler and others have done a fantastic job and Kenneth Johnson has done a superb job making this show. Not only is the storyline and plot very capturing, the characters in this really come to life and you actually get involved with them unlike many other shows. And this is even more amazing because there are SO MANY characters and each one of them has their own story which is depicted very well. I love the way the characters all start off in different settings and events and don't know each other, but gradually they come together.
The Nazi-esquire theme also works out well. The special effects for 1983 are cool enough to be used today and the lasagnas on 'V' are the absolutely coolest ones ever. Better than Star Trek 'phasers' or Star Wars 'blasters'. Not to mention the Mother Ships and the various classes of shuttles.
This is a good one and this is certainly something I am hoping they give more. Either a movie or a remake. There is supposed to be a 'V-The next generation' in the making. I can hardly wait!
First saw 20 years ago and its fascination to me then has not
Skillfully told tale of alien contact - "we come in peace" but this soon changed as a deep and premeditated plot by the aliens to enslave/rape the Earth emerged. Obvious overtones common to any invader/oppressive regime in particular The Holocaust.
Strong storyline and characters that one really felt involved with/cared for.
Special effects (especially the at-times wobbly V shuttle craft) not state-of-the-art by today's standards but competently done and more than compensated for by the strength of the storyline.
Would recommend to people who don't particularly like sci-fi, because of the personal side of the story.
10 out of 10.
i loved this series growing up as a kid, it was one of my fav's along with the movies,, this movie seems to have it all it sets the stage for the series,, you have michael ironside, robert englund jane badler faye grant evan c kim,, the list goes on and on,, what a great story , you got aliens visiting our planet and trying to deceive us by saying they are our friends,, all the want is water they say , for their dying planet,, well a couple of our main heroes don't buy into that idea and they are off to prove to the whole world that the visitors are not who they appear to be. they are called the resistance led by Mike Donavan , and Julie, there is also something called the 5th column a secret society of V's that are against the leader,, they are led by Martin,, Dianne is the captain of the Mothership and no one dare crosses her ,, she is assisted by Lydia who doesn't get along well with others.. all in all this is one of the better TV movies of all time i think,,
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