The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
1 out of 5 stars
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This is a great idea, but it's also one of those inept, out-of-control action blockbusters that wastes so much money and talent you want to cry. It's 1899 and there's a threat against Europe that forces the head of British intelligence (Roxburgh) to call on people we know these as fictional characters, but here they're like Victorian superheroes: adventurer Allan Quartermain (Connery), immortal Dorian Gray (Townsend), vampire Mina Harker (Wilson), Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde (Flemyng), Captain Nemo (Shah), an invisible man (Curran) and the American Tom Sawyer (Shane West). Together they track down the shadowy and villainous Fantom to stop him from taking over the world (I assume that was his nefarious plan ... it was hard to tell).

The more you think about the film, the more it falls to pieces. It's riddled with logistical and continuity errors that keep the audience continually uttering "Huh?" while the story veers from comic book excess to over-serious Hollywood mush. Connery doesn't bother to play the role at all, and his character throws the film off balance, taking over the story with unnecessary subplots and moments of meaningful heroic gibberish as he passes wisdom to the young Sawyer. Oh please! The rest of the cast camp it up frightfully but without a sense of humour; we never like any of them. The film is bereft of wit, despite attempting several lame jokes. And this is the biggest problem: For a tale that depends on a suspension of disbelief, it's completely lacking in fun and adventure. Director Norrington just powers forward mindlessly, full of self-important posturing even though it's ridiculous (I mean honestly, the car and submarine alone will generate hours dialog about the film's logical incongruities). Meanwhile, Robinson's script is derivative, corny and full of irksome anachronisms. The effects are impressive and completely inappropriate, driving the story instead of the other way round (Mr Hyde's rubbery Hulk-like figure is a serious misstep, especially this summer!). Everything is just completely wrong about this film--production design, editing, you name it. And if I have to say one good thing, well ... it's not boring for a second!

cert 12 themes, violence, language, innuendo 17.Aug.03

dir Stephen Norrington
scr James Dale Robinson
with Sean Connery, Richard Roxburgh, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Naseeruddin Shah, Tony Curran, Terry O'Neill, Max Ryan, Tom Goodman-Hill, David Hemmings
release US 11.Jul.03; UK 17.Oct.03
03/US 1h50

Victorian superheroes: West and Connery plot (above), while Wilson and Townsend spar (below)

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send your review to Shadows... league of extraordinary gentlemen Hadassah, net: 4 out of 5 stars "Having only paid a dollar to see this movie, I can't say that I feel ripped off. And it was a very enjoyable movie, even if it didn't live up to my expectations. I saw Darth Vader and Freddy Kreuger ripoffs in the Fantom (dark masks and burned skin). Having read almost all the books this was based off of, I saw a few things that others might not pick up on. One scene involving the Nautilus was so fake-looking as to appear animated. The plotline itself was weak, and fewer nighttime scenes would have been appreciated. And what was a vampiress doing using a compact mirror? There were some pleasant surprises, and Mina's line, "You broke my heart once, this time you missed," was my favorite piece of dialogue. The movie got better halfway through, but I'm pretty sure Stevenson never intended for Mr Hyde to look like the Hulk. I can say in all fairness, if they had made the funereal scene a bit more touching, and left out the ending sequence, I would have left entirely happy. As it is, I'd happily go see it again." (1.Nov.03)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall