The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Director: Stephen Norrington
Sean Connery/Alan Quatermain
Peta Wilson/Mina Harker
Stuart Townsend/Dorian Gray
Shane West/Tom Sawyer
It's 1899 and an enigmatic madman known as The Fantom wants to destroy the world (what else is new, get in line bub). It’s up to a team of unique men (and one hottie of a chickadee) to foil his plan. Lots of pow-wow ensues.
I never intended to see "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" on the big screen, but I was bored one day, had seen everything else and decided to give it a roll of the dice. Having heard so much bad bla-bla about it, my expectations were lower than Tom Arnold’s brain cells count. But as I was watching the flick, something odd happened...yes, a smile got imprinted on my face and it just wouldn’t go away. I suddenly caught myself thinking: "Holy shite, can it be? I’m actually HAVING A BLAST! "
Based on Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill’s graphic novel of the same name (these lads also did the "From Hell" graphic novel), "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" entertained in a period piece, "X-Men" type of way with an endearing pulp comic book feel oozing throughout. The flick’s most potent weapon was definitely its varied 19th century iconic lead characters, some of which were horror-inclined. I totally grooved on adventurer Alan Quatermain and I have to hand it to the always charismatic Sean Connery; for an old geyser, he still knows how to throw a mean punch. My other two favorite characters were: the somber, yet lovely, bloodsucker Mina Harker (Wilson) and the all-Yankee Tom Sawyer (West).
The exciting action was the second spice on this dish! I loved the many shoot-outs, the tight brawls and the characters’ use of their special skills. I’ve heard many say that the special effects in the film were far from special and I beg to differ. I though the Hyde CGI effect was the shite, adored the many slick vehicles in the film (that sub was kool) and went koo-koo for Mina’s “bat heavy” flight. Come on, when Venice started crumbling as Sawyer was driving through it at top speed...didn’t you feel that shite? I sure did! NICE! Sure, the matte paintings and green screens were obvious but behold, for me it gave the setting a more otherworldly and surreal feel and never took me out of the picture. Au contraire, I was more engulfed by it all. I WAS in another reality.
On the downside, the script (or was it the editing) was quite flawed, giving the storyline a choppy flow. The middle section, although still interesting, was all over the place and no place at the same time, know what I mean? I also found that some of the characters were abandoned for too long of time and that the villain was far too typical to be memorable. Haven’t I seen this bad guy in every other film of this type? Come on! Let’s get creative here! Lastly, the plot holes were abundant and way too obvious. I heard there was a lot of conflict on set between director Stephen Norrington (who is rumored to have quit Hollywood after this shoot) and control freak star Sean Connery (who also executive produced the film). That might have something to do with how things turned out. Or it might not...or I might deserve a beating. You decide.
On the whole, although the movie had its faults, I forgave lots of them due to the strong dose of yummy entertainment it shoved down my throat. This baby just made me feel like a kid again and was quite the effortless watch! And you mean to tell me that Captain Nemo is more than just a Sarah Brightman song? Wow! Who knew?! Hop on this adventure?
We get some gunshot wounds, some bloody vampire bites, a sword impaling and some ugly monsters in Hyde and Hyde Part 2 (you’ll see).
Sean Connery (Alan Quatermain) was all Connery charm as the hardened adventurer. He rocked...once again! Peta Wilson (Mina Harker) had a captivating presence and I loved her subtle take on the role as well as her intense stare. Naseeruddin Shah’s (Captain Nemo) costume was a joke, but he kicked ass like a champ, so he was forgiven. Tony Curran (Invisble Man) didn’t do much for me...maybe it was because he was invisible. Stuart Townsend (Dorian Gray) played a snottier Lestat and it worked again. Shane West (Tom Sawyer) was perfect casting as the cocky American, he reminded me of a young Indiana Jones. Jason Flemyng (Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) was very credible as both Jekyll and Hyde.
T & A
We get Peta Wilson’s sumptuous lips while the ladies get Connery's hair piece and West’s amazing “real” hair!
I loved the energy that Norrington infused into some of his shots via fast-forward zoom action and slick angles. He also managed to capture the scope of his setting and deliver well choreographed action sequences.
A generic score that failed to capture my attention.
"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" has a “classic” feel to it, all wrapped up in delicious over-the-top characters, dialogue, visual effects, action and situations. I can see how some would loathe this movie, but like my grand-daddy always used to say: “To each his own and if you can’t handle that…fuck off before I break a bottle of Bud over your head”. Sure, taking into account the solid premise and the gnarly characters, the overall film could’ve been so much more, but I was still into it the whole way and had an overall fun time at the theatres. If these Gentlemen ever band up again for a sequel (I doubt that will happen), I will be there to back them up with popcorn, a machete and Pepsi in hand.
David Hemmings (Nigel) of "Deep Red" fame (for me, anyways) has a cameo here.