The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Release Date: 2003
Director: Steve Norrington
Running Time: 110 minutes
Cast: Sean Connery, Richard Roxburgh, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend, Shane West
Comic Artist: Alan Moore (script), Kevin O'Neill (art)
First Appearance: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, From Hell) penned this wonderful what-if story on the premise of: what if the greatest Victorian heroes had to do battle with the greatest Victorian foes. In the original story the forces of evil were represented by Fu Manchu, Sherlock Holmes' little brother Moriarty, and Dr. Moreau, unfortunately the film went its own way on this.


This listless movie adaptation, inspired by Alan Moore's imaginative and grisly take on Victorian heroes from his comics of the same name, has the sweat stains of wasted energy; it's drab, yet frantic. Convened to battle a world-threatening evil, the league is a group of tough, forgotten or ignored British loners brought together at the behest of the. The group is led by the legendary but aged hunter and explorer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery), who, though well past his prime, is still capable of some world-beating moves. The other members include the pirate Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah); an invisible man, Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran, using his voice wickedly well); the vampire Mina Harker (Peta Wilson); the dandyish Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng); and the token American, an adult Tom Sawyer (Shane West), now an operative for the United States Secret Service. Mr. Norrington shows glimmers of faith in Mr. Moore's melancholic and apocalyptic vision. Still, the movie suffers from its own anxiety: a dread of being too literate, if not too literary. That's an unintentionally hilarious failing, given the material's leaning on public domain book figures: in their way the Marvel comics heroes of their time. Somehow you sense that Fox would be happier calling this picture "The Justice League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." As it stands, the movie is neither gentle nor extraordinary.

© Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

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