The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/09/2003

Three out of Five stars

Running time: 110 mins

Highly flawed but still quite good fun, this is criminally unfaithful to its excellent source material and features an unwelcome amount of dodgy CGI but isn’t the disaster you might have been expecting.

First things first – if you’re a fan of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s excellent comic book, then you won’t fail to be disappointed with the big screen adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (or “LXG”, as Fox are insisting on nick-naming it) as it pretty much suffers the same fate that befell From Hell.

However, if you’ve never read the comics, then the movie isn’t quite as bad as you might have heard – it’s just frustrating because it could so easily have been much, much better.

Keeps The Basic Ideas

The basic idea is still an excellent hook – Sean Connery stars as ageing literary hero Allan Quartermain. He’s recruited for a top secret mission (by “M”, no less, which prompts the obvious joke) along with other literary characters including Mina Harker (Peta Wilson from TV’s Nikita), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde (Jason Flemyng / A Massive CGI Hulk), AN Invisible Man (Tony Curran) –presumably Wells’ estate objected to Moore’s depiction of THE Invisible Man - and two characters who weren’t in the comic book, Dorian Grey (Stuart Townsend) and “Agent” Tom Sawyer (Shane West).

Sadly, however, the film rejects the comic’s perfectly adequate plot in favour of something quite ridiculous involving the destruction of a CGI Venice…

The film as a whole is a frustrating mix of great ideas and poor execution, great sets and poor CGI effects – in addition, the script also veers wildly between brilliant lines and terrible dialogue.

Dorian Grey Steals Picture…

In its favour, Dorian Grey is an excellent addition to the group and Townsend plays him perfectly, nabbing all the best lines into the bargain (this may well be his best performance to date). Connery is reliably good and doesn’t overshadow the film, though it’s a shame Quartermain’s opium addiction had to fall by the wayside.

As for the other characters, Tom Sawyer was probably A Bad Idea, although his character also serves as an audience substitute for people to explain things to. Still, ‘Kung Fu’ Nemo is a lot of fun, though you can’t help wishing that original choice Monica Bellucci had played Mina instead of Peta Wilson.

In short, some of the changes are understandable from a cinematic point of view (turning Mina into a vampire, for example) but others (the plot) are more baffling. However, if you switch off your brain, it’s considerably more enjoyable than the likes of Tomb Raider 2 and Charlie’s Angels 2. It also leaves the way open for a potentially amusing (if unlikely) sequel… Worth seeing if you haven’t read the comics, then, but lower your expectations if you have.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (12A)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 12:11

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