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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (PG-13)
Twentieth Century Fox
Official Site
Director: Stephen Norrington
Producers: Trevor Albert, Don Murphy
Written by: Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, James Dale Robinson
Cast: Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh

Rating: out of 5


The good thing about The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen is that, unlike many movies in theaters now, it’s not a sequel. The bad thing is that it’s another one of those mediocre adaptations from comic books.

LXG originates in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic novel of the same name. The premise is combining literary characters from the 19th century as if they actually existed. It’s a mix and match of personalities from Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few. It’s an interesting idea, and reminds me of MTV’s Clone High, only instead of “What if Abe Lincoln met Gandhi?” it’s “What if Captain Nemo met Dr. Jekyll?” Classic novel readers will have fun with the references that spring up.

The time period is a high-tech 1899, complete with automobiles and machine guns. An elusive villain called the Fantom is trying to instigate a world war so he can become rich through the sale of technologically advanced weapons. (He’s the one with tanks and machine guns; everyone else has horses and single-shot rifles.) To counteract this menace, a British man named M (Roxburgh) puts together a team to Save The World.

After the whole recruitment process, we have the adventurer Allan Quatermain (Connery) who becomes the leader of the League, Captain Nemo (Shah), vampiress Wilhelmina Harker (Wilson), invisible man Rodney Skinner (Curran), Dorian Gray (Townsend), Tom Sawyer (West), and the duo of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Flemyng), who looks suspiciously like the Hulk.

Slight deviations in the characters were made from the original comic. Mina Harker’s name is changed from Mina Murray, Skinner replaces Hawley Griffin, and Tom Sawyer is screenwriter Robinson’s own addition. He must’ve decided that they needed an American hero in among the mix, not to mention a younger character to appeal to the teen demographic.

The “what if so-and-so met so-and-so” scenario plays out thus: Quatermain begins to look on Sawyer as his son, Nemo and Hyde develop a friendship, and Gray, Sawyer, Skinner and Jekyll all have eyes for Harker. Overall, I liked these interactions. They helped the League become more cohesive.

Special effects in LXG are for the most part the usual blowing up of stuff. Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, is impressive, though I give more of the credit for that to Jules Verne than to the filmmakers. The invisible man is fun to watch, especially when he paints on a mask and the contours of his face appear. It makes me wonder why, in some of the scenes, Curran is obviously there in the not-so-invisible flesh. Did they run out of blue makeup?

The movie’s denouement neatly wraps up the story, and I liked it for that. No loose ends, no blatant “this is only the first movie of a franchise” bits. That is, until the last two minutes or so, when I realized I had judged too quickly. LXG has one of the worst and most obvious set-ups to a sequel I’ve ever seen, and if Connery and director Norrington weren’t on such bad terms right now, I’d guarantee an LXG2 in an instant. My advice for the sequel: Play up the literary characters and leave the unnecessary stereotypes behind. These characters were created by some of the most talented novelists ever and contain a wealth of depth.

—Kelly Hsu

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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