STARRING: Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh

2003, 110 Minutes, Directed by: Stephen Norrington

Description: From the pages of Victorian literature come Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll (and his alter ego Mr. Hyde), Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, an Invisible Man, Mina Harker (from Dracula), and the hunter Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery), all brought together to combat an evil megalomaniac out to conquer the world.

With Sean Connery only appearing in roughly one film every now and then, one would think he has the time to choose quality work. But alas, we were subjected to The Avengers, one of - if not the - worst film of the decade . . . and now . . . this.

Believability isn't this film's strongest trait. I came close to recommending it a few times - I really did; I wanted to - but there was a particular scene involving a car chase through the streets of Venice that literally insulted my intelligence.

Keep in mind that the year is 1899 - automobiles have hardly been invented. Yet we are shown one zipping around at not 100 miles per hour, through streets that apparently have never existed, past guards who can't seem to be able to shoot a cat off a flea's back at two yards, and through pillars and windy little crevices and who knows what else; and all the while this vehicle is being driven by a young American not twenty-four years old. I'm the last person to complain about believability - but this even pushed it for me.

I may not be the smartest person, but by George, I think that a bit more confidence in audiences’ intelligence might be in store.

"Should have been called 'The League of Extraordinary People Which May or May Not Include Hot Women' . . ."

Ah, yes, there is a plot behind this mess, but not a very smart one at all. Sean Connery plays Allan Quartermain. With the intended audience of this film obviously being little kids and rednecks living in their parents' basement in Louisiana with fourth grade educations (you know who you are), perhaps the filmmakers thought that they could dupe everyone into believing that Allan Quartermain is responsible in part for the creation of the quarter. Heck, for the heck of it, let's just say he is - we can't screw up facts any more than they already are!

Quartermain is like the father of Indiana Jones - oh, wait, didn't Connery play that part already? He's a legendary adventurer who has been invited to join "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman," a league of gentlemen with extraordinary powers - ironically one of which is a woman. Perhaps a more appropriate - and yes, more marketable - title would have been "The League of Extraordinary People Which May or May Not Include Hot Women."

That sure would be more marketable to all the male teenagers out there . . .

Also in the team are such daring and wonderful characters as Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah - say it ten times fast), a retired pirate; Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), a she-vampire; Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), a British pickpocket with an obviously low IQ but yet a man who managed to dabble in invisibility, hardly an easy subject for those with simple minds, with strange results; Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), who you may remember is the man who remained at ease with his conscience through incidents relating to a portrait of his soul; Tom Sawyer (Shane West), one of them thar' American folk; and last, but certainly not least in terms of mass, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng and The Incredible Hulk), who bears a striking resemblance to both the Hulk and that nightclub gorilla from Who Framed Roger Rabbit when morphed.

There are a lot of mistakes in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and not all of them have to do with geographical or factual errors. First of all, the characters from classic fiction are totally screwed up.

Since when was Dorian Gray invincible? In one scene he comes up with bullet holes through his body and he never even flinches. But the thing that got me the most was Mr. Hyde. I really felt cheated when I realized that Mr. Hyde was a big Hulk who could change back and forth voluntarily just like the former rather than being the darker, more disfigured character Stevenson envisioned.

To be honest, this isn't a terribly bad film, but there are a few low-points that, if they were combined together without the stretches of "okay-ness" in between, would result in one of the most horrific films of the last two decades.

The movie insulted my intelligence many times, particularly with the Venice car chase, which played out more like a testosterone junkie's videogame dream rather than anything more intelligent. And then there are the disgraceful reinventions of some of the most beloved of all characters.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen boasts some extraordinary visual effects, but the rest of the film is anything but extraordinary.

- John Ulmer

Forget about how this movie takes liberties with beloved literary figures and / or how dumb it is, that is to be expected from your standard big budget Hollywood  blockbuster. The problem is that it takes an extraordinary concept and then does absolutely nothing interesting with it!
James O'Ehley



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