Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as "The Fantom." This "League" comprises seafarer/inventor Captain Nemo, vampiress Mina Harker, an invisible man named Rodney Skinner, American secret service agent Tom Sawyer, the ageless and invincible Dorian Gray, and the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Written by
For legal reasons, Fu Manchu was dropped from the script, even though he appears in the comic. See more »
When Mina attacks her first victim in the initial action scene in Dorian's house, she picks her head up, and messy, smeared blood is clearly visible all over her face. In about 5 seconds, all the blood is completely clean just by her running her finger over her lips a few times. See more »
In the original theatrical release, during the opening credits when Alan Moore's credit first begins to appear on screen, it reads "Based on the COMIC BOOK by Alan Moore" but suddenly changes to "Based on the GRAPHIC NOVEL by Alan Moore". See more »
Many times film have such bad vibes during production that they are rumored to be a terrible mess before they have a chance to premiere. Some films that suffered this fate during filming were The Godfather and Titanic. Both turned out to be box office bonanzas and the trouble they had making it to the big screen was quickly forgotten. Then there are films like Valley of the Dolls and Myra Breckinridge which were legendary for their on the set squabbles and dissension among cast members. The end product of both of those productions were films that should have won awards for being the ultimate in cinema stinkers. In 2003, we are given The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which had already become legendary for it's problems between director Stephen Norrington and lead actor Sean Connery. Add to that such disasters as a flood wiping out production in Prague and you have a nation full of critics ready to pounce. And film critics being what they are in not wanting to waste an opportunity, pounce they did making it one of the worst reviewed films in the past year. Add to that the fact that Fox made the mistake of pitting it against Pirates of the Caribbean in it's opening weekend and it you have the makings of a box office disaster. Did League deserve it? No, it's a film that in my opinion is fun, highly watchable, and deserved none of the over the top blasting it took from some critics. Maybe if it had come out after Gigli many would have looked more kindly on it.
League has an extraordinary premise for a fantasy/adventure film. The idea of using legendary figures from literary fiction to combat a madman The Fantom who is out to destroy the world is much more original than the sequel based films such as Tomb Raider and Terminator 3 that we were subjected to this summer. (League is based on a comic book series that I have not read, nor if I had would not use as a comparison.) Our team of intrepid super heroes consists of Alan Quartermain (Sean Connery), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), a now vampiress Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), The Invisible Man (Tony Curran), Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), Tom Sawyer (Shane West) and Dr Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Jason Flyming). The cast does an excellent job of bringing each character to life. Connery has been highly criticized for his portrayal of Quartermain, but for those who cannot appreciate his presence I suggest you try watching Richard Chamberlain in the same role in his two films. That'll teach you. Peta Wilson gives Mina Harker a strong seductive personality that reeks of sexual tension. Stuart Townsend manages to make Dorian Gray the most watchable of the characters by surrounding the character in an aura filled with flair and Mystery. Jason Flyming brings a new characterization of a tormented Dr. Jekyll, who as Mr. Hyde is transformed into a creature Bruce Banner would be proud of. Shane West exudes a boyish charm as Tom Sawyer befitting his character. Though seldom seen except in covering makeup, Tony Curran manages to give the Invisible Man an unmistakable personality. If there was a flaw in the casting I would have to say it was Shah as Captain Nemo. His characterization is for the most part one note and empty, devoid of personality.
The story moves along at a nice even pace. It quickly introduces the characters so that we are able to get to know their personalities, then moves ahead with the action. Writer James Robinson and director Norrington make equal use of each of the characters abilities so that none of their talents are wasted. The production design, set decoration and art direction are all top notch, giving us a dark and brooding turn of the century look we haven't seen before. There are the usual minor plot holes and flaws one could find if they took the time to study this film, but films like this weren't made for film class. For that you watch Citizen Kane. Films like League are made for an audience to have a good time while loading up on the popcorn and soda and nothing more. And I did have a good time. After the critical blasting League took in the press I steered clear of it for quite a while. Fortunately, several months later, I gave it a chance and am certainly glad I did. I suggest you do the same.
My Grade B
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