The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Starring: Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Shane West, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend, Tony Curran, Jason Flemying
Written by: Allen Moore, Kevin O'Neill (Graphic Novel) and James Robinson (screenplay) Directed By: Stephen Norrington
When I first heard about this movie I was very curious. I had never read the comic book...I mean Graphic Novel. As a matter of fact I had never even heard about the darn thing. I figured this would either be an awesome movie or a really stinky flick. Actually, the LoEG kind of falls in between those two extremes.
A mysterious villain with a metal mask (No, its not Dr. Doom) called The Fantom, is stirring up trouble all over Europe in 1899. The Fantom has some advanced technology for the time, including automatic rifles, tanks and bullet proof armor plating for his henchmen. By staging various acts of robbery and sabotage he's got the nations of Europe blaming each other and on the brink of war. In an attempt to stop this from happening, the British Government assembles a team of people with special abilities to try and root out the villain before its too late. Sounds like a kick-ass idea, huh? A group of literary characters forming a 19th century superhero team. Hey, I like it! A man known only as M calls in these individuals and sets them to the task.
Allan Quatermaine- Hey, Sean Connery's got top billing in this movie, as the now retired adventurer. You know, only Connery can give an otherwise not-very-compelling character some class. That's not knocking his character too much, but as with most of these guys, not too many people know who the heck Quatermaine is. I won't even profess to know. When the Inferno reviewed the Allan Quatermaine movies from the 80's the Infernal Mailbox was full of emails from angry readers that were perturbed by the fact that I didn't know that Quatermaine was literary character. (I honestly thought he was only made up for those movies.) Well, that's my bad, and it might be good that a lot of kids don't know who some of these guys are...it might spur them to go to the library and find out! Anyway, Connery's Quatermaine is the field leader of the League, possessing no real super-abilities except an uncanny habit of being able to beat up men 30 years younger than he is and being an excellent shot.
The Invisible Man- And he's not the guy from the movie of that name. Instead he's a thief that stole the formula from the mad scientist that created it. They don't get real specific about how he did this, and that's okay. My only question is....didn't the formula drive the original Invisible Man insane? Well, this guy seems to have all of his marbles.
Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde- They should probably just call him "Mr. Hulk" because that's what the character is. Jekyll's a wishy washy scientist and Hyde's a big freaking CGI semi-Hulk. Its been a looooong time since I read the book. (I'm talking the children's version when I was like 10) but I didn't think that Hyde was 8 feet tall with muscles bigger than the hood of my car. Well, every super-team needs a muscle guy, I guess. Even though Jekyll's potion is supposed to bring out the evil part of his nature, Mr. Hyde in this movie isn't really that bad of a guy. For that matter in the movie Hyde's pretty Heroic, risking his life to save some drowning men and in the big ending, trying to protect Captain Nemo.
Captain Nemo- Hey, all I know about Captain Nemo is that he has a ship called the Nautilus. Never read any book about him and I never saw the Disney movie. The closest I came to that was riding the ride in Disneyworld. I hope that the literary version of Nemo is a cool as this movie version. They could have just made the flick about him. The only problem I had with Nemo is that the Nautilus is Far too big in my opinion. Its like the friggin' Enterprise, for Pete's sake.
Mina Harker- They don't tell what happened to Dracula, but Mina's a vampire. Which would be cool, but she doesn't do any vampire like stuff other than suck blood. At one point she's standing in broad daylight. I guess she's like a 19th century female Blade.
Dorian Gray- I remember reading a short story about Dorian Gray as a kid, but I admit I had to look him up to get the skinny on the character. Suffice it to say that Gray can't be harmed as long as his portrait is safe and he doesn't look at it.
Special Agent Tom Sawyer- Oh, Great....they had to add this guy. First of all, Tom Sawyer is supposedly as US secret service Agent that tags along with the League and befriends Quatermaine. When did Tom Sawyer become a crack shot? They should have just made him Billy the Kid. Why not? Hyde's a "bad guy" and he's a hero in the movie? I guess Emilio Estevez was busy.
M- Nope, its not Judi Dench. If you want to get the lowdown on M, drag your cursor over the next few lines. Its a spoiler of sorts and I don't want to ruin the flick for anyone out there. M, though he seems to run the Government Agency that formed the League, is really Prof. James Moriarty. If you don't know who he is, Moriarty was Sherlock Holme's greatest foe, a criminal mastermind. Supposedly he died in Reichenbach Falls (where he and Holmes struggled to the death...even Holmes died in that fight if you read the books....but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle received so much mail from fans to bring Holmes back, he created a plausible story where Holmes survived) Moriarty has the distinction of being the only literary villain in the movie that is really a villain. He's the Fantom. He only created the League so he could get information and samples of the various members to create his own super-army.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn't a bad movie, but its a turn your brain off movie. If you try to think of some of these characters as they were written about you'll be giving yourself a headache. There were plenty of parts where I rolled my eyes, (Like the entire trip in Venice) but if you ignore logic you'll have an okay time watching it. A lot of this is due to the fact that the movie doesn't slow down much. Once the action starts, it just moves from action scene to action scene. This movie was never meant to be a "learn about characters from books", its a straight loud, CGI filled action movie. There's nothing wrong with that, but it was a bit disappointing. I don't know how the comic....err, Graphic Novel....was, but I hope it had a bit more meat to it than the movie. Still, I have to hand it to Sean Connery....he's a class act and I doubt anyone would have bothered with the movie at all if he wasn't in it....the Inferno included.
Best Lines: “Boy, they told me European women had funny ways.” -Agent Tom Sawyer when he sees Mina suck the blood out of an assassin.
Are you kidding me?
1.) I've seen this before...the old "The villain has created a war so he can sell his new advanced weapons to everyone-plot". and its stupid. Because nations would buy it regardless of whether they are at war or not! If I invented a laser pistol right now I wouldn't have to stage fake attacks on china using them to get china or the US to buy 'em. They'd buy 'em anyway. No nation...big or small...likes to be behind in warfare technology. Its sad, but true.
2.) So, Mr. Hyde has been terrorizing the Rue Morgue in Paris lately? How could the French not catch this dude! He's not invulnerable to bullets and he's f***ing 8 feet tall! Its not like he could hide for very long!
3.) This is my BIGGEST problem with this movie. And I admit its only because I have been to Venice. Quite simply, the CANALS AREN'T THAT BIG! Yes, they are incredible, for what they are. But the Nautilus...at least the one in this flick....could NEVER fit in one. They just ain't that big, wide or deep, my droogies. That pisses me off because the movie assumes that the audience is too stupid or too eager for mindless mayhem on the screen to even think about that. Heck, lets add in the fact that the "automobile" racing along the Venice streets is freakin' dumb also. I don't have a problem with the movie making the scale of Venice a bit larger. (If you could drive through Venice at 90 mph you'd reach the other side in a few minutes. Its not that damned big) but listen....THERE AIN'T NO ROADS in Venice! There are streets, yes, but no roads for automobiles....I mean NOW in the 21st century so you can bet your bippy there weren't in 1899! Ever drove in Europe and wondered why the streets seemed so narrow? Its because they were originally built for horses and wagons, not cars and trucks! So Venice has some extremely narrow streets. This amount of bullsh!t all at once really ruined the movie for me.
4.) Agent Tom Sawyer? Oh, puh-leeeze. I've heard they included him to give American audiences someone to identify with. How completely stupid. I mean, for real, Droogies....do we need to see an American in EVERY movie. That kind of egocentric thinking is why people call us Ugly Americans. And if they were dead set on having an American character in the movie, WHY TOM SAWYER? I never really read the book, but damn, he's not on my top ten list of fictional heroes. Why not Daniel Boone or someone else like that? Who cares if they were alive during the time period the movie takes place in? Its a fantasy anyway! And crap, if Boone was a real guy why not use him? Stupid movie.
5.) Riddle me this...if Mina Harker is a vampire, than Why oh, why does she look in the mirror after killing her assailant in Gray's home? As a vampire she wouldn't be able to see a reflection, so why? and before you say some movies change the rules for vampires, I get that...but Mina Harker is a character from Bram Stoker...the guy that wrote Dracula.
6.) When Mina drinks the blood of an attacker in a fit of vampire fury, Tom Sawyer...who just met all of the other characters, says the quote above in Best lines. I might have to read some Mark twain....I didn't know Sawyer had ice water in his veins! He's not the least bit fazed that this woman just sank her big honkin' fangs in a mans next and sucked all of his blood within 30 seconds! Most people would freakin' pass out or run.
Its only amusing if done sparingly...but within the first 20 minutes of this flick the characters have made too many references to other tales and characters from the late 19th century. already I've heard remarks about Jack the Ripper, Phileas Fogg, and the Original Invisible Man. slow it down, guys. We get it...its 1899 in a world where literary character existed in real life. Geez.
I can understand Mina Harker exiting a vehicle moving at well over 60 MPH. She's a vampire, so she won't be hurt. I can almost buy Dorian Gray doing it...he should have been hurt, but since he heals instantly so what? But Allan Quatermaine? He's just a normal human being...and an elderly one at that. He should have broken both legs and a hip jumping from a moving car!
This script must have had a few embellishments from whoever wrote the Hollow Man. In that movie the Invisible Man was burnt in a big ass fire, yet he kept on fighting as if 3rd degree burns all over your body don't hurt. well, in this flick, The League of extraordinary gentlemen, the Invisible Man has been following the bad guys in the arctic and when his comrades arrive he complains a bit about being cold, but come on...unless being invisible can make you really really hardy, I'd like to meet one person that can stand outside in below freezing temperatures for more than an hour. Seriously. Its the freaking North Pole. I'm betting the temperature there is below 0 most of the damned time. If a person were naked in a snowstorm there for any length of time they'd have severe frostbite! (Maybe I'm being too hard about this....Personally I can't stand being cold)
The Final Judgment: If you don't want a movie that's going to make you think about stuff, you'll enjoy watching this one. Of course if you're a purist when it comes to your literature, you might wanna skip it. Still, The Infernal Hordes grant it only two devil heads. It wasn't an awful movie, but it did take a bit of effort to watch....sorry, the whole Venice under attack part ruined all of my personal suspension of disbelief. Hey and check out some other opinions of this flick by some of the other Rogue Reviewers like Eccentric Cinema and Independent Thought Alarm.