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"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Directed by Stephen Norrington ("Blade").
Written by James Dale Robinson.  Based on the comic book. 
Starring Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Nasseruddin Shah and Shane West.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  7/14/03 

Folks-- 

Honest to God, the first thing that crossed my mind after leaving the afternoon showing of “LXG”: 

“Shit, do I have to see ‘Legally Blonde 2’ to see a Hard Vice or what??”

See, I was sure--fucking POSITIVE--that “LXG” would suck.  I mean, didn’t you have that “The Avengers” feeling when you saw poor Sean Connery in that hat, with all of those no-name stars, and what looked like some really bad action?  I was so sure we had a lock on Hard Vice that I didn’t even give “LXG” a chance.  Then, the movie started.

I had first read about “LXG” over a year ago, and the concept for the comic book on which the film is based is just phatty--in this alternate reality in the late 19th century, questionable villains and anti-heroes come together to do some good for the help of mankind.  The only characters that I knew about at first were Allan Quartermain (played here by Connery), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah, from a billion Indian films including “Monsoon Wedding”) and The Invisible Man (Tony Curran), but the idea just struck me as an old school “Superfriends” or “Justice League”...and, who doesn’t love “Superfriends”??  The artistic style of the graphic novel was really cool as well; the characters are drawn in such a way that it makes them look as shady as their background.

But, concept be damned, the movie should have sucked...instead, it was decidedly average and made for a pretty solid viewing for $7.  Some madman is threatening to disrupt peace throughout the world by pitting each major nation against each other, so this guy in London calls up Quartermain to enlist the help of six other legendary adventurers, which in this film include the above plus Tom Sawyer (Shane West), an immortal named Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), a chemist named Mina (Peta Wilson, deposed of “La Femme Nikita”) and Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng).  The League members have to travel to Venice to stop the crazy guy from blowing up the city where a conference of world leaders is taking place.

Connery, who executive produced this film, is trying to play action hero once again here, so during those scenes his stunt double is a distraction.  But, he IS Sean Connery, and he does look at things and utter lines as well as any smooth 60-something Scottish guy in the business.  The action in general with “LXG” is usually engaging, aided by a Captain Nemo that I have neither seen nor heard or before.  As he was laying down some martial arts on bad guys in an early action sequence, I was laughing my ass off because I was like “Nemo knows kung fu?  Didn’t this guy command a boat?”  In fact, Nemo is so far and away the coolest character of “LXG” that if they had made the movie based just on his character (oh, and his car, and his boat, and his sword, and his fucking beard, for crying out loud) this would be a $9.50 Show, easy.  The other characters have some cool skills--and, I’ll admit, I was intrigued with how the writers portrayed the Sawyer character--but, Nemo is the money shot.

The characters and the action are good, but the antagonists of “LXG” are useless and over-the-top, plus the film feels a bit long in the middle as the team is sailing for Venice for a few days.  Not enough Invisible Man scenes (as if the writers--the same folks that wrote the book--almost thought that the Invisible Man was a one-trick pony not worth pursuing in the film version) and a couple of empty subplots (Sawyer is the son Quartermain wants to keep alive this time!  Mina and Dorian are former lovers!) don’t match up as well as interesting perspectives on how these literary giants might interact if they had the chance to have coffee one Tuesday afternoon.

All of this leads to a series split.  But, I will be anxious to see what happens if the film recoups its budget and somebody passionate about the book decides to make a sequel.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09