The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Starring:
Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend
Directed By:
Stephen Norrington
Grade C+

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a strange beast - it's a movie based on Alan Moore's comicbook, which takes famous literary characters and places together in a team to stop a criminal mastermind. The movie's script likewise takes further liberties with the original comic, but ultimately, the story is the same in concept. A madman, by the name of Fantom, is attacking locations throughout Europe, stealing technology, kidnapping scientists and trying to start a war among the countries. To stop the Fantom, The League recruits adventurer Allen Quartermain (Connery), who is to head up a group of literary misfits, including the Invisible Man, vampire Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, immortal Dorian Gray, Jeckyl and Hyde and American agent Tom Sawyer.

I won't kid you - the script writing is rather formulaic and can be hit and miss most of the time. There are some lines that can be excruciatingly lame. Despite this, some of the characters and their interactions with each other seem to work just fine within the scope of the story. Connery is his usual brash action hero as Quartermain and his interactions with Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo work well. In fact, the character of Captain Nemo is far more interesting than I initially might have thought. Both Tom Sawyer and Skinner, the invisible man, are only moderately given any depth and both Dorian Gray and Mina Harker are there largely for their supernatural flair. The conflict between Jeckly and Hyde is a nice side story to accent the main plot, as themes of redemption are present for most of the characters.

One of the nicest features of the movie is the wonderfully imagined locations that the story is placed in. While most of the film is dark in scope, you'll still get a great sense of detail in the elaborate sets. Special effects are used well to fully flesh out the extraordinary cast. For the most part, the effects are sharply done, but there are a few moments with the invisible man where it's obvious they cut corners. At times, he's mostly invisible with face paint applied to detail his face, and then in the next scene, he's completely covered in face paint (read: a real actor rather than special effects). The transition is nonexistent and makes it look like the production ran low on funds.

For the most part, the action is furious and engaging, even though the camera tends to move around too much. Everyone gets their moment during the length of the story. Fight sequences are exciting and the pace of the story is kept up well enough to keep the script from dragging the whole film down. It's a shame, though, that the camera jerks around way too much during the fight sequences, wasting would could be some excellent fight sequences.

The League is a guilty pleasure. There's enough loose ends and things that were missed during the lengthy production to keep it from being an outstanding, must-see action flick, and those who were fans of the original literary characters or Moore's original comic may be perturbed with the liberties taken. Outside of that, The League is a good diversion.

- - Vane

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