The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Review Date:
Director: Stephen Norrington
Writer: James Dale Robinson
Producers: Don Murphy
Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain, Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray, Shane West as Tom Sawyer
Old-time adventurer Allan Quatermaine is recruited to head a group of extraordinary folks with varying legendary powers, in order to stop a madman named “The Fantom” from launching a world war. The Fellowship of a Few Extraordinary Men and One Chick…ensues.
If there’s one thing that I admire in any film coming out of Hollywood these days, it’s ambition. With at least one shitty sequel coming out every other week this summer, it’s nice to see at least one iota of creativity in any new film. I bring this up because the word “ambitious” kept floating through my mind as I watched this movie– that and “How come this flick isn’t entertaining me?” It wasn’t long before I realized that the film ultimately just didn’t enthrall, interest or engage me, despite its obvious ambitious efforts. I did like how each of the characters in the “league” were introduced, how each was given his/her opportunity to share their “talents” with us and all, but the problem was that once things got going, I just didn’t care about any of them. That also had a lot to do with the cheesy dialogue throughout (“What’s that sound?”-“That’s the sound of treachery!”), the jittery and uneventful action scenes, the story itself, which was just too over-the-top and boring (bad guy wants to take over the world…yawn) and the characters, who while interesting in some respects, ultimately didn’t blow me away either as a team, or respectively. The film also moved pretty fast, to the detriment of the plot, which seemed to be missing scenes here and there. One minute they’re fighting the baddies in the streets of Venice, and the next they’re dressed up in winter parkas and hiking the snowy mountains of Mongolia. Much of the film also took place on an extremely impressive “boat” called the Nautilus, on which a number of scenes dragged and slowed down the rhythm.

The CGI was also half-assed with some remarkable work done in terms of the actual grungy cities, the skylines, the insides of places and so forth, but other times, simply overloading the screen with computer imagery and not much else. It also didn’t help that the main focus of the characters was the lead of Allan Quatermaine, played as Sean Connery-ish as ever, with the graying Scotsman rashping his way through some pretty bad lines, as well as an emotional angle with a protégé in the group– which was about as subtle as a kick to the nuts. The rest of the players were decent, but like I said before, nothing to write home about. These ain’t the X-MEN, folks. My faves were the invisible dude and Dr. Jekyll/Hyde, but neither was as developed as I would have liked. Stuart Townsend was also solid as Johnny Depp playing Dorian Gray. Literary nuts might get something more out of these dudes, since they all come from legends past, but for me, that was cute for about the first ten minutes, after which…I was basically just looking for a better story. Having said that, nobody goes into this type of bloated summer comic book movie looking for DRIVING MISS DAISY to sweep them off their feet. You’re looking for fun, cool characters and lots of kickass action and despite a little fun and a couple of cool characters, the action sequences in this film were also few and far between, and ultimately very generic and unmemorable. They were also rapid-cut to the bone, and left very little impression on me unlike scenes from other summer “action” flicks like THE MATRIX RELOADED, X-MEN 2, HULK and TERMINATOR 3. Watching Connery (and his stuntman) punching extras out at the age of 72 also made me wince at what may become of the next installment of the INDIANA JONES flicks, but I digress.

All that to say that this film has a couple of bits going for it including a comprehensive cast of characters, a typically over-the-top diabolical storyline about a zany madman who wants to crush the world, as well as plenty of ambitious scenes like the one in which the entire city of Venice seems to crumble before our very eyes, but the whole simply didn’t engage me, few of the characters were captivating me and ultimately, not much about the film was entirely cohesive or entertaining. I walked out of the theater and forgot about it five minutes later. Everything but the very cool Mr. Hyde monster, that is. Hyde smash!!!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian