July 2003
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Reviewed by Godfrey Powell

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Stephen Norrington
Producers: Trevor Albert & Don Murphy
Screenplay by: James Dale Robinson
Cast: Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Shane West, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Naseeruddin Shah, & Tom Goodman-Hill
Composer: Trevor Jones
Rated: PG-13

Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer and Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain in 20th Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - 2003

Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer, Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain and Peta Wilson as Mina Harker in 20th Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - 2003

Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer and Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain in 20th Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - 2003

Peta Wilson as the vampire Mina Harker, Jason Flemyng as Dr. Jekyll and Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer in 20th Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - 2003

Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo in combat in 20th Century Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - 2003

 

 

The comic book, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, follows a group of questionable heroes led by scientist Mina Harker. The writer, Alan Moore successfully incorporated literary heroes such as Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde with the Invisible Man, adventurer Alan Quartermain and immortal Dorian Gray. The result became what is known as the first association of superheroes due to the late 19th century setting. The comic book became and is a cult classic whose sales will no doubtedly increase thanks to widespread exposure that will be generated by the film.

The new blockbuster film by the same name and noted in trades as LXG has the same characters but with slight alterations. Mina Harker is now not only a scientist but a vampire due to a romance with an infamous Transylvanian. She also is no longer the leader of the group. That role is claimed by Alan Quartermain (Sean Connery) legendary adventurer whose exploits include finding King Solomon’s Mines and leading teams through the ancient exotic jungles of Africa. Added into the mix (for American representation) is the youthful spy Tom Sawyer (Shane West).

The plotline is pretty straightforward. A madman (The Fantom, yes no PH) is inciting war amongst neighboring European countries by committing terrorist attacks against one and blaming the other. With the entire world now threatening war, the British government commissions a league of individuals with unique powers to unite. Hence the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is formed to hunt down the madman and stop him. Along the way, the League is attacked repeatedly allowing for each member to show off their special powers that they contribute to the cause. In one thrilling scene, Mina Harker is held at gunpoint by an enemy soldier. Thinking the only female is helpless, the League surrenders only to witness a shocking “feeding.” The group pursues the Fantom for half the film and then the plot does (rather obviously) provide a slight twist causing the League to change tactics. But for this kind of film are you expecting depth?

The film is a highly entertaining flick that allows one to see the full onslaught of a Hulk-like Mr. Hyde rip through brick walls and humans alike. One sees the glorious submarine, Nautilus (Sword of the Ocean) of the “pirate” Captain Nemo. One sees the pluses and minuses of being invisible as well as the terrifying thirst of Mina Harker. Visually, the film is mysterious yet exciting with a tone that takes the comic book seriously. No surprise, as the movie was directed by Stephen Norrington, the genius savant who also directed the hit comic book movie Blade. Acting wise, the cast seems to thoroughly embrace taking artistic license with their rarely seen characters. All in all, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ranks as one of the better comic book movies and a solidly enjoyable summer flick.