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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Given the problematic gestation period of this picture (flood damaged sets, the lead actor's much publicised bust-up with director, Stephen Norrington) and the fact that the last time Sean Connery attempted a comic book/fantasy adaptation, it resulted in (shudder) 'The Avengers', it comes as a no surprise to report that 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' is every bit as bad as could have been expected.

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, the premise is of such a high concept that it's nearly vertigo inducing - what sort of a team would the heroes of late-19th/early 20th century make, were they all to be thrown together? So, we get a veritable justice league, consisting of Alan Quatermain (from King Solomon's Mines), Dorian Gray, Dr Jekyll (and, of course, Mr Hyde), Mina Harker (Bram Stoker's Dracula), The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo and, er, Tom Sawyer (who most definitely WASN'T in the comic!), all thrown together to try to stop a typically fiendish plot to bring about the end of the world in 19th century Europe.

However, this approach almost suffocates itself from the start, as the film seems undecided whether to assume the audience will already be familiar with the characters or whether it should spend some time introducing them. Unfortunately, Norrington takes a thread that falls between the two approaches and fails on both counts, leaving some characters overbaked (Stuart Townsend's Dorian Gray) whilst others are just sketched out (Tony Curran's The Invisible Man). That said, the movie's first hour is where the most fun is to be had as The League are assembled and the dynamics among the group become apparent - Harker and Gray were once lovers, whilst Tom Sawyer provides a convenient surrogate son figure for Alan Quatermain to bond with - and also gives us the young Shane West to try and attract the teenage,female audience.

It's a shame that more time wasn't spent expanding on these dynamics because, all too soon, Nemo's submarine, The Nautilus arrives to whisk The League off to begin their adventure aproper and that's where the problems really start to set in as CGI begins to take over. And, by God does it ever take over. The movie becomes totally suffocated as Norrington tries desperately to cover up for the lack of a storyline with ever more ludicrous special effects. The plot is dispensed with to such an extent that the League find themselves in Venice, nicely building to the movie's climax -the trouble is, the movie is only two thirds of the way through and, after destroying what credibility the movie had built in it's first hour, we are left with a very limp final thirty minutes as the League finally unmask the culprit behind the plot.

Connery looks bored (and every single one of his advancing years), Townsend shamelessly mugs it up in every single scene and West realises it's all too much and simply falls into neutral gear and relies on his looks to see him through the whole affair. The only saving grace is Jason Flemyng, who simply looks embarrassed throughout as Dr Jekyll and is grateful every time Mr Hyde makes an appearance , so he can scurry back to the safety of his trailer to let the special effects take over once again.

A truly wasted opportunity.


Sean G

Picture from official site click to visit.