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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 OíNeill, 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, itís not a sequel. The bad thing is that itís another one of those mediocre adaptations from comic books.

LXG originates in Alan Moore and Kevin OíNeillís graphic novel of the same name. The premise is combining literary characters from the 19th century as if they actually existed. Itís a mix and match of personalities from Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few. Itís an interesting idea, and reminds me of MTVís Clone High, only instead of ďWhat if Abe Lincoln met Gandhi?Ē itís ďWhat if Captain Nemo met Dr. Jekyll?Ē 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. (Heís 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 Harkerís name is changed from Mina Murray, Skinner replaces Hawley Griffin, and Tom Sawyer is screenwriter Robinsonís own addition. He mustíve decided that they needed an American hero in among the mix, not to mention a younger character to appeal to the teen demographic.

The ďwhat if so-and-so met so-and-soĒ 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 Nemoís 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 movieís denouement neatly wraps up the story, and I liked it for that. No loose ends, no blatant ďthis is only the first movie of a franchiseĒ 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 Iíve ever seen, and if Connery and director Norrington werenít on such bad terms right now, Iíd 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.

óKelly Hsu


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