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
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.