HOME PAGE
Movie Videos
Films by Year
Films by Director
Films by Actor
Films by Actress
Films by Alphabet
Film Characters
Film Franchises

TOP 100 MOVIES in 2003!


2013 MOVIES
2012 MOVIES
2011 MOVIES
2010 MOVIES
2009 MOVIES
2008 MOVIES
2007 MOVIES
2006 MOVIES
2005 MOVIES
2004 MOVIES
2003 MOVIES
2002 MOVIES
2001 MOVIES
2000 MOVIES
1999 MOVIES
1998 MOVIES
1997 MOVIES
1996 MOVIES
1995 MOVIES
1994 MOVIES
1993 MOVIES
1992 MOVIES
1991 MOVIES
1990 MOVIES
1989 MOVIES
1988 MOVIES
1987 MOVIES
1986 MOVIES
1985 MOVIES
1984 MOVIES
1983 MOVIES
1982 MOVIES
1981 MOVIES
1980 MOVIES
1979 MOVIES
1978 MOVIES
1977 MOVIES
1976 MOVIES
1975 MOVIES
1974 MOVIES
1973 MOVIES
1972 MOVIES
1971 MOVIES
1970 MOVIES
1969 MOVIES
1968 MOVIES
1967 MOVIES
1966 MOVIES
1965 MOVIES
1964 MOVIES
1963 MOVIES
1962 MOVIES
1961 MOVIES
1960 MOVIES
1959 MOVIES
1958 MOVIES
1957 MOVIES
1956 MOVIES
1955 MOVIES
1954 MOVIES
1953 MOVIES
1952 MOVIES
1951 MOVIES
1950 MOVIES
1949 MOVIES
1948 MOVIES
1947 MOVIES
1946 MOVIES
1945 MOVIES
1944 MOVIES
1943 MOVIES
1942 MOVIES
1941 MOVIES
1940 MOVIES
1939 MOVIES
1938 MOVIES
1937 MOVIES
1936 MOVIES
1935 MOVIES
1934 MOVIES
1933 MOVIES
1932 MOVIES
1931 MOVIES
1930 MOVIES
1929 MOVIES
1928 MOVIES
1927 MOVIES
1926 MOVIES
1925 MOVIES
1924 MOVIES
1923 MOVIES
1922 MOVIES
1921 MOVIES
1920 MOVIES
1919 MOVIES
1918 MOVIES
1917 MOVIES
1916 MOVIES
1915 MOVIES
1914 MOVIES
1913 MOVIES
1912 MOVIES
1911 MOVIES
1910 MOVIES

Subscribe To This Site
XML RSS
Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines
 

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, 2003
Movie Reviews!

Search 1,000 of MOVIES
CLICK and WATCH MOVIES ONLINE!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your SCREENPLAY
Voted #1 screenplay contest in the world!
2003 MOVIE BESTTOP 100 MOVIES from 2003


See the LIST
TOP 100TOP 100 LISTS WEBSITE
Best of photos, movies, sex and everything else!
2013 MOVIES2013 MOVIES
See all of 2013 films!
 MOVIES YEAR BY YEAR

See and watch films 1900 to present!
WATCH VIDEO MOVIE REVIEW:

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN MOVIE POSTER
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, 2003
Movie Reviews

Directed by Stephen Norrington
Starring: Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend
Review by Matthew Lohr



SYNOPSIS:

In an alternate Victorian Age world, a group of famous contemporary fantasy, SF and adventure characters team up on a secret mission.

CLICK HERE and watch 2009 MOVIES FOR FREE!

REVIEW:

On the micro level, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” is a colossal success. It’s a film filled with fast and furious action sequences, richly designed and crisply photographed, featuring unique interpretations of some of the most beloved icons of classic literature as embodied by a largely engaging cast. But on the macro level, when it attempts to tell a coherent and thought-out story, the film is pretty much a failure, one made all the more disappointing by an intriguing first hour and by familiarity with the picture’s genuinely inspired source material.

That source is a series of graphic novels written by the mercurial comics genius Alan Moore (the illustrator is Kevin J. O’Neill) that re-imagine the heroes of Victorian genre fiction as the world’s first superhero team. In these comics, former vampire victim Mina Harker leads African adventurer / over-the-hill opium addict Allan Quatermain, psychotic invisible man Hawley Griffin, ruthless Indian pirate Captain Nemo, and tormented split personality Henry Jekyll against old-world villains like Professor Moriarty and the Martians of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. These stories, while chock-full of the color and action of their original source novels, use their characters’ troubled pasts and present neuroses to engage in probing commentary on the dark realities often lurking beneath the fanciful exteriors of Victorian escapism. In their way, they are as definitive a deconstruction of classic pulp literature as Moore’s acclaimed “Watchmen” was of the superhero genre.

Naturally, Hollywood’s first step in adapting “League” for the screen (the film’s script is by James Dale Robinson) is to largely remove the angst and torment from these characters, stripping away the lion’s share of their very human complexities and rendering them more readily accessible heroic archetypes. The second step is to shunt Mina Harker into a supporting role and make the more conventionally action-heroic Quatermain the group’s leader (incidentally, his name is also changed to the more tongue-pleasing Quartermain). Not a surprising move, really, when you have the venerable Sean Connery cast as the bwana with the dead-eye aim. Quartermain is tracked down in 1899 Kenya by the British government after a series of mysterious robberies and sabotage missions threatens to bring the great powers of Europe into a seething international conflict…a world war. The African warrior reluctantly agrees to head up a team of “singular individuals” to track down the supposed culprit behind these crimes, a mysterious masked figure known only as the Fantom (“How operatic”, quips Quartermain) whose true plans involve harnessing the unique skills and powers of the League to create an army of super-soldiers that will, you guessed it, take over the world.

To be honest, the hook of the Fantom’s scheme, turning the League’s powers into world-conquering weapons, is a juicy one (and original to the film), and the film’s first hour, as Quartermain and his compatriots assemble the team and set off on their adventures, is full of great little moments of character detail buttressed by several fine performances from the large cast. Indian superstar Naseeruddin Shah is effortlessly commanding as the imperious Nemo, whose martial-arts skill and scientific wizardry mask his evil piratical past and devotion to the death goddess Kali. Jason Flemyng, given the most to work with by the film’s screenplay, is terrific as the tortured Jekyll and his monstrous alter ego Mr. Hyde, here imagined as a hulking behemoth brilliantly brought to life as an fx-and-makeup hybrid. In an effective device, Jekyll frequently communicates with Hyde through mirrored reflections, as the monster side of the man taunts him for his weakness and clamors for release (this moment pays off nicely later when Hyde, in a rare moment of pure heroics, is lauded by a mirrored Jekyll). Though largely offscreen, Tony Curran is sharp and amusing as the untrustworthy Invisible Man, and Connery himself has lost none of his charisma and presence as Quartermain. In addition to still being able to throw a punch with the best of them, the veteran screen star does well by the few emotional moments the character is permitted as he laments the loss of his son on a previous adventure.

The other members of the League are more problematic. Peta Wilson is a bit lost in the shuffle as Mina, ill-served by her character’s relegation to background status, and there’s more trouble still with the two characters added to the League for the film. Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, re-imagined as a virtual immortal impervious to pain, is transformed by Stuart Townsend into a campy fop, and Shane West is adrift as U.S. Special Agent Tom Sawyer, a sharpshooting country boy who forges an insufficiently explored surrogate-son relationship with mourning father Quartermain. The producers have fully admitted that Sawyer was shoehorned into the film so American audiences would find the picture more relatable, but it’s an awkward fit, presenting a Sawyer who will be unfamiliar even to those conversant with such later, lesser Twain adventures as “Tom Sawyer, Detective”. Really, we can blame the American literary tradition for this problem, as the country’s 19th century pulp literature didn’t create any characters with the enduring power of its European contemporaries.

So we’re facing problems even before the film moves into its second hour, where all of Robinson’s thoughtful character touches and intriguing interplay are basically cast aside in favor of turning the picture into just another borderline-incoherent action bash. Granted, there are such scenes earlier in the film (a shootout in Gray’s library is particularly frantic), but in the back half, that’s all there is. There’s a chaotic car chase through the streets of Venice, a sequence that took up the bulk of Roger Ebert’s vicious pan of the film, which condemned the scene’s very concept because there are no streets in the famously canal-linked city. The Nautilus, Nemo’s legendary submarine, is bombed by the Fantom’s minions, and it all culminates in a drawn-out final sequence at the Fantom’s hideout in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, where the League come face to face with their evil mirror images, doing battle with knife-wielding invisible maniacs and Hyde-monsters on steroids.

Honestly, all of this, while you’re in the moment, is tremendously exciting stuff. Director Stephen Norrington (“Blade”) skillfully choreographs the action and special effects set pieces, and the picture looks stunning, with rich, dark cinematography by Dan Laustsen, evocative art direction by Carol Spier, and classy costumes by Jacqueline West. But Paul Rubell’s editing mashes the action scenes into whitter-quick craziness the eye can barely track, and the deafening sound mix is so overpowering that one of the film’s finest elements, the moody and thunderous score by action veteran Trevor Jones, is virtually obliterated (I recommend picking up the soundtrack, which is only available from the Varese Sarabande website or on iTunes). Plus, as one watches some of the greatest figures of classic literature reduced to summer action marionettes, it’s hard not to feel a sense of lost opportunity emanating from the screen. The concept of uniting these mismatched misfits into a coherent force was so skillfully pulled off by Moore and O’Neill, so suffused with metaphor for the human need for community in the face of interpersonal incompatibility and geopolitical chaos. As the film transforms into just another boisterous blockbuster, one can almost feel the poisonous groupthink of studio fatcats kicking in, stifling the intriguing elements of Robinson’s original script and replacing them with sound and fury, signifying nothing.

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” was a notoriously troubled production with dramatic fallout for several of its participants. Norrington found the making of the film so traumatic that he has vowed never to direct another feature, and Connery was so irritated by the process and by his contentious relationship with Norrington that he announced his retirement from acting shortly after the film’s largely unsuccessful release.

Meanwhile, “League” creator Moore was so unhappy with the film’s interpretation of his concept that he announced he would remove his name from all future film adaptations of his work (a vow that he has kept on the subsequent releases of “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen”). Still, for a film with so many problems, there is something about “League” that keeps me coming back to enjoy its bombast and bloated Hollywood excess. It has strangely become my cinematic equivalent of comfort food; it’s usually the movie I throw into the DVD player when I’m home sick and in need of something entertaining and intellectually undemanding to distract me from my discomforts. As a movie, I fully concede that this picture really doesn’t work, but as a mindless entertainment, well, if you’ve got to rape classic literature, I guess this is the way to rape it.

SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your SCREENPLAY
Voted #1 screenplay contest in the world!
NEW MOVIE REVIEWSNEW MOVIE REVIEWS
Read Today's POSTED REVIEWS
MOVIE KILLSEE 1000s of PICTURES
Best of photos, images and pics
MOVIE YEARMOVIES YEAR BY YEAR
Pages from 1900 to present


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


footer for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen page