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Assembling the League (2003)

Video  |   |  Documentary  |  16 December 2003 (USA)
5.9
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Title: Assembling the League (Video 2003)

Assembling the League (Video 2003) on IMDb 5.9/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Scott Beverly ...
Himself - Mechanical FX Supervisor
...
Himself - 'Allan Quatermain'
...
Himself - 'Rodney Skinner'
Forest P. Fischer ...
Himself - Construction Coordinator (as Forest Fischer)
...
Himself - 'Dr. Jekyll' / 'Mr. Hyde'
...
Himself - Miniature FX Supervisor
Steve Johnson ...
Himself - Make-Up Effects
...
Himself - Producer
...
Himself - Stunt Coordinator
...
Himself - M / The Fantom
...
Himself - 'Captain Nemo'
Carol Spier ...
Herself - Production Designer
Matthew Strange ...
Himself - Chassis Designer
...
Himself - 'Dorian Gray'
Jacqueline West ...
Herself - Costume Designer
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Release Date:

16 December 2003 (USA)  »

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References The Untouchables (1987) See more »

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Old fashioned effects for an old fashioned League
13 November 2009 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

It's a good thing there are behind the scenes documentaries like this to show that not every major Hollywood production (filmed in Prague) uses computer generated effects throughout. Otherwize I would have thought Mr. Hyde, the sinking of Venice and some of the more outrageous stunts done by the Nemomobile were all CG while they were actually done practically with miniatures and prosthetics. Sure, there were quite a number of digital mattes and other tweaks added in post production, but for that you'll have to seek out other parts of this DVD. The main doc is all about the production of 'LXG' (and yes, that silly abbreviation was in effect even during the preproduction phase) and it is divided as follows:

1) Origins. Producer Don Murphy recounts how after finally getting Alan Moore's "From Hell" on the silver screen, he managed to secure the rights to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen before the comic went into production. And while Moore's dislike of the film adaptations of his work is well known, on the film's audio commentary Murphy explains that because the rights were sold so early on, Moore and artist Kevin O'Neil retained those of the League for themselves when all of their other projects for ABC/Wildstorm were bought up by DC. Sean Connery is quite game during the on set interviews on what would turn out to be his last film before retirement. He tells the anecdote about not understanding the 'tricksy' scripts of The Matrix and Lord of the Rings and therefore turning them down, only to see them become major hits. So he decided to take this part after having a similar reaction to the script. Director Stephen Norrington, who seems to be the main reason why Connery left the acting profession, is seen on set but never heard in interviews. However he does wear a pretty cool Snake Plissken T-shirt, so the man can't be all bad.

2) Attire. Costume designer Jacqueline West goes through all of the main 'superheros' costumes and explains a little bit about what went into them. For instance, Allan Quatermain's outfit was based on pictures of a Scott with the appropriate name John Hunter who seemed to wear leather coats made of hippopotamus leather. Steve Norrington like all his characters to wear a lot of black leather and long coats, most noticeably 'flasher' Rodney Skinner (the invisible man). Mina Harker and Henry Jekyll were given proper Victorian outfits, while Tom Sawyer's outfit was based on 1930's Eliot Ness outfits. Finally Dorian Gray... well he had to be all in gray, of course. All of the same information is repeated by West during her snippets of the audio commentary. 3) The Nemomobile is a short 'Pimp my Ride' style segment showing the construction of said car (which seems to be from 30 years into the future for a movie set in 1899). This segment is low on dialog and high on fast forwarded images.

4) Making Mr. Hyde. During a quick montage, we see a lot of make-up and body suit tests that were worked out long before Jason Flemyng was cast as Jekyll & Hyde. Steve Norrington, who got his start working with men in suits on Greystoke, insisted on creating a bodysuit with realistically working musculature to fit Flemyng. Scaled down sets and other old fashioned camera trickery were then used to make Hyde seem to tower over all the other cast/league-members. Despite having to sit in a make-up chair for seven and a half hours each time Hyde was needed, Flemyng remained totally cooperative and upbeat. He even made self deflating jokes about having to use all this make-up because of being unable to use the Method like De Niro. True, the 'Dante Beast' that battles Hyde at the climax of the film was completely CG, but he remains unmentioned in this segment.

5) Resurrecting Venice and 6) Sinking Venice complement each other despite the fact that both were filmed on different continents. The first documents what was the largest set build in Thechoslovakia to date. Located in a former warehouse the size of 4 football fields. Note that the viewer is expected to have seen the film before watching this documentary as the identity of the mysterious Fantom is unceremoniously revealed. A lot of the cast-members express how impressive the streets of Venice looked - complete with three canals - as well as their dismay at seeing it unexpectedly covered with 14 feet of water owing to the worse flood in Prague's recent history. Actor Shane West, who sounds a bit whiny on the aforementioned audio commentary, repeats this trait here by complaining about how hard it is to drive the Nemomobile (and this despite the fact that stunt coordinator Eddie Perez did most of the work for him). Therefore it comes as an even bigger surprise to see a remote control miniature of the same vehicle (manned by 14 inch members of the League) racing through scaled down streets of Venice made by the FX people at New Deal Studios. The final segment of this documentary is completely devoted to the guys at New Deal and how they built and subsequently destroyed little Venice. It features a lot of great shots of the RC Nemomobile being filmed by a tiny camera on an equally RC chassis. One shot even sees the Nemomobile flipping over and crashing into a would be canal. Great stuff.

There is no narrator during the entire documentary, just interviews and a lot of comic book style text blurbs with handy information (as seen previously on Wonder Woman and those Pop-Up shows on VH1). The ending is tad abrupt, but then there are plenty of other, shorter features on disc two of the LXG two disc set yet to explore.

8 out of 10


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