An assortment of characters from fantastic Victorian fiction join together to prevent World War I from starting in 1899. Once involved, they realize the stakes are higher than they imagined. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, available here and here.


Premise:

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aka LXG gathers together characters from Victorian Fiction to track the Fantom, a mysterious (and remarkably well-connected and financed, given his origins) figure out to start a World War in order to profit from the resulting arms race.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Stephen Norrington

Writers: Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, James Robinson.

Cast: Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Richard Roxburgh, and a whack of other people.

Second Assistant Accountant: Michele Wright

High Points:

The film makes for a fun ride. I wish we could have become a little more emotionally invested in the characters, but this proves one of the most enjoyable of this summer’s action blockbusters. If you watch it in that spirit, it’s worthwhile.

Jason Flemyng does a memorable turn as Jekyll/Hyde. The League‘s Edward Hyde owes more to Hollywood than to Stevenson. Actually, the greatest debt is to Stan Lee; this is the gray Hulk. LXG does a better job on the Hulk than The Hulk did, but then, Fiziko’s review here at the Bureau was more positive than my alter ego’s take on the film at another site.

LXG boasts great scenery and numerous memorable touches, from Hyde’s outsized hat to the author’s names on a Victorian poster to numerous incidental allusions to various novels.

Low Points:

Occasionally, the dialogue sinks to Attack of the Clones levels of badness, and nowhere do we really become involved with the characters.

The presence of Tom Sawyer (I believe, an addition of the film version) irked me. Never mind that Tom would be nearly Connery’s age in 1899. The person onscreen has nothing to do with Twain’s character, and Twain’s character really doesn’t fit in with this group. I expected they would take liberties with the source material, but at what point does creative adaptation become pointless name-dropping? The Americans don’t need a token representative to relate to, if the choice makes no sense.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6. Yes, we’ve seen the ragtag team get together for the greater good before, only to run up against evil Plot Twists. The basic premise, and the manner in which it was handled, make LXG original.

Effects: 4/6. Extraordinary mise en scene. Some of the gratuitous spectacle needs work, however. This film’s version of the Nautilus couldn’t possibly ride through Venice; the destruction of Venice is excessively bloodless, and I felt Mina’s “multi-bat” mode was distracting, and less effective than more conventional vampire effects would have been.

Story: 4/6: See “originality.”

Acting: 4/6. Connery’s ability to play an action hero at his age and not look ridiculous is an achievement. The cast do well, but the script rarely requires them to do anything extraordinary in the way of acting.

Production: 4/6

Emotional Response: 3/6 The film delivers thrills, but there’s not much in which to become emotionally invested. The father/substitute son plot involving Connery and Shane West feels spectacularly flat.

Overall: 4/6. Critics have not been kind to this film; I enjoyed it.

In total, LXG receives 28/42.

Additional Comments:

You really have to take this with a grain of salt. Dorian Grey as a super-hero is either literary blasphemy of hilarious perversity on the part of the writers. Mina’s vampirism destroys the ending to Dracula; Either Lucy Westenra or Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (who granted, should both be dead) might have made a more interesting undead woman for the League. I did like the fact that she can move about freely during the day. That’s the way it is in Stoker, and “vampire goes poof at daybreak” has been overexposed and overdone.

Jess Nevins has an excellent page on the original comic, oops, graphic novel here.