THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
Film Review © 2003 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Steve Norrington; Screenplay by James Robinson from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill; Produced by Trevor Albert and Don Murphy; Executive Produced by Sean Connery and Mark Gordon.
Starring Sean Connery [as (H. Rider Haggard's) super-duper adventurer (from "King Solomon's Mines"), Allan Quatermain], Tony Curran [as (legendary H.G. Wells' character) "The Invisible Man," and this film's alter ego, Rodney Skinner], Jason Flemyng [as (Robert Louis Stevenson's) Dr. Henry Jekyll - with a computer generated and very "Hulk-like," Mr. Hyde], Naseeruddin Shah [as the surprisingly talented martial arts expert and creator of the submarine Nautilus, (from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea") Captain Nemo], Shane West [as American adventurer, the legendary Detective (Mark Twain's) Thomas Sawyer], Peta Wilson [as the ex-bride of (Bram Stoker's) Dracula, the vampiric Mina Harker], Stuart Townsend [as the very charismatic, long-lived, invulnerable, and ultimately conniving (from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Grey"), Dorian Gray], Tom Goodman-Hill (as Sanderson Reed), Richard Roxburgh (as the duplicitous, "M"), David Hemmings (as Nigel), and Max Ryan (as Dante).
Here's a noble attempt to reinvent several legendary fictional characters and the myths surrounding them. Now, although this film is completely, totally preposterous - nevertheless, it was interesting and fun. Reminiscent of the contemporary French action/fantasy classic from 2001, "Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups)," film seemed to begin with dark overtones and high ambitions, but eventually runs thin with as it eventually takes itself less seriously. Both script and visuals capture your interest due in large part to the presence of Sean Connery. Let's face it, even at 72 years of age - whenever Connery's on screen, his image, his voice, his swagger make him nearly impossible to ignore, and as a result, it's nearly impossible not to accept and take an interest in his films. That said, "nearly" was the key word in the previous sentence, because getting "near" only wins if you're playing horse shoes.
The story? In homage to Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece, "The Seven Samurai," Connery's Quatermain is recruited by Bond's (oops!) - Quatermain is recruited by "M," the leader of Her Majesty's Secret Service, to lead a group of "extraordinary gentlemen and one women" to, of course, prevent the destruction of the world from the threat of a mysterious villain. There's an interesting plot twist involving the villain and "M." Film is set in the 1900s but, like the "Wild, Wild West" television and film properties, film is filled with leading-edge technology and science fiction that's advanced by even today's standards.
So, while the film gets your attention, it mistakenly left many things unexplained or simply ignored certain mythical "truths." For example: vampires do NOT walk in the daylight; thoroughfares have never existed in Venice, Italy; and a submarine larger than an aircraft carrier MUST displace a phenomenal amount of water which, for some reason, Captain Nemo's Nautilus did not do while traipsing through the Venetian canals. Oops, but keep in mind, this film is a fantasy and Connery's there to guide us through it all. Okay? Okay!
Notably, the acting by all players is "leagues" above the script, in particular, Townsend's Dorian Gray. As action/adventure/sci-fi/fantasy films go, this one is worth seeing just for the "spectacle" of it all! Just ignore the physics surrounding the size of Nemo's ship, ignore the reality of a car speeding in street-less Venice, and as established by the cliffhanger ending, get ready for the sequel! Oh, yes, there's got to be a sequel! After all, OO7, oops, I mean, Sean Connery will be back!
Film is directed capably by Steve Norrington, but should have been trimmed by at least 20 minutes.
Film has a uneven running length of 110 minutes.
Recommendation: Again, film is worth seeing just for the "spectacle" of it all! Wait and see it on cable.