The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Movie Review
- Friday, July 11, 2003
Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of fantasy, violence, language and innuendo)
Release Date: July 11, 2003
Actors: Sean Connery, Shane West, Stuart Townsend, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Naseeruddin Shah, Tony Curran, Max Ryan, Tom Goodman-Hill, David Hemmings, Peta Wilson
Director: Stephen Norrington
Special Notes: A friend of mine was the hairstylist for Sean Connery on this movie, and she told me lot of "Connery" stories of what happened to him while making this movie. Apparently everything that could go wrong did, including one of the worst floods to strike Prague in 130 years. Ironically the rain destroyed Captain Nemo's submarine set with over 20 feet of water in the warehouse. Connery even went on television to make a plea for help. Another interesting note: the "Hyde" suit Flemyng wore (his character is Dr. Henry Jekyll) weighed 45 pounds, and it took seven hours to apply all of his makeup.
Plot: The story is based on the Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill graphic novel miniseries set in the late 1800s. When a group of literary figures [Allan Quatermain (Connery), vampire Mina Harker (Wilson), the Invisible Man (Curran), Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Flemyng), Tom Sawyer (West), Captain Nemo (Shah), and Dorian Gray (Townsend)] are summoned by agent "M" to join the league of extraordinary gentlemen, they discover their talents are needed to stop a mysterious madman from turning the nations of the world against one another and achieving global domination with powerful machines.
Good: I know I'm not original when I say this, but I can't help myself: I'm a huge fan of Sean Connery. Always have been and I look forward to each and every role he plays. In this case, it was fun to see him play the suave and debonair action-hero-mentor. And I must say, he did a brilliant job with the script he had to work with. This is an interesting premise because it incorporates characters from literature who come together and use their powers or talents to save the day. I enjoyed the amazing special effects showing buildings, gadgets and gizmos from nineteenth century Europe and other countries. The FX makeup for Jekyll/Hyde was equally fascinating along with Nemo's creative giant ship, an incredible futuristic car, many more modern day inventions and a peek at life back in the early nineteenth century. I also enjoyed the sci-fi element to this story and the fact that it used modern day inventions in the past. Besides liking everything about Quatermain, I think I enjoyed Nemo's spunk, Sawyer's bravery, Hyde's brute strength and heart to help, and the Invisible Man's cool ability to go anywhere he pleases undetected (something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, in fact, I'd love to do it now!).
Bad: This is an adventure aimed at mature audiences, because of the mild language, numerous fight scenes with guns and swords and special effect "monster looking" bad guys. The plot is detailed and takes place in several locations, so it will require a mature viewer who can keep up with the storyline. At times, the story gets a little complicated but it's nothing that ruins the movie. Some of the special effects are a little cheap looking (Nemo's boat, the water spray, some of the cityscapes, etc.) compared to some of the special effects we see in other big budget movies, but I don't think the movie should be judged on that standard because it was still interesting. The character that seemed to be the odd one in the bunch was Harker, the female vampire who was bitten by Dracula. She attacks a soldier who's going to kill her and bites him savagely, then stands up and licks/wipes the blood off her face. It's one of the more graphic scenes in the movie and solicited groans from my audience. She kills again when they attack their enemies, but we don't see her attacks played out as bloody or as graphically as the first. Lots of sword fights, gun battles and even a fight between Hyde and another monster keep the action going. In the end, there's a witch doctor dancing over a grave and chanting.
Bottom Line: This is an unusual movie in that it reminded me of the old adventure movies like "Journey to the Center of the Earth", "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" or "Sinbad". I found the story interesting, the overall appeal of the movie entertaining and enough action to keep your teenagers entertained (my 17-year-old Nathan and his friend Tyler really enjoyed it). Parents, I don't recommend this movie for children under 13 because of the complicated plot, violent fights scenes and scary special effects. I wouldn't call this one of Connery's best performances, but I did enjoy seeing him in this kind of role – he just gets better with age!
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