The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
By
Dan Graney
7/13/2003 3:03:34 PM

I haven't really seen a truly bad movie in a very long time, so I have almost forgot how to react to one. Almost. Until The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So how bad is The League or "LXG" or whatever else they've called it? So bad, I really don't want to talk about it. But I will. First, it's not bad in the "so-bad-it's-good" sense; it's not bad in the "just-plain-bad" sense. It's frustratingly bad, because there are brief moments when the movie starts to work. But those moments don't last, and you're left with a league of extraordinary crap.

Remember the Superfriends? They were the Saturday morning equivalent of the Justice League of America, which was sort of like the Summer Superjam of superheroes. You had Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. And then, sometimes, you had the Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom. There were also some characters that seemed suspiciously like feeble attempts at diversity, like Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, and some spinny Samurai guy I can't remember. And then, once or twice, they let the Green Arrow in, which always pissed me off, since I always thought he was the coolest.

The reason I'm reminiscing about the Justice League/Superfriends is because they were clearly the inspiration for Alan Moore when writing the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. What Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill did was brilliant: they took 19th-century characters like Alan Quartermain, Mina Murray (Dracula's obsession), Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll and Hawley Griffin (the Invisible Man) and teamed them up. It's a great idea and, on paper, it really works. On film, at least in this movie, it doesn't.

The film stars Sean Connery as Quartermain, an old adventurer, who has exiled himself after numerous personal losses. Connery is pretty good, but in the beginning, so is the movie. Then... it stinks. The League is gathered together, with the addition of Dorian Gray, Agent Sawyer (actually it's Tom Sawyer, yet they never call him that, even though he was added to Americanize the film because, as you know, we Americans don't know nuthin 'bout no book readin') and a different Invisible Man.

Apparently some guy from G.W.A.R. calling himself the Phantom is out for world domination, and he is gonna blow stuff up real good with his robot army that looks like they came straight out of "Flesh Gordon". Soon, The League is hot on his tail in, of all places, Venice, where, apparently, you can park a submarine in one of the canals (I should note that Nemo's Nautilus looks like a giant butter knife of the sea).

Then there's more chasing, more explodin' and blowin' stuff up, and lots of fight scenes that are nothing but zoomed-in, shaky-cam cuts of things you can't really see that look like they were filmed by a drunk guy. (Note to filmmakers: shaking the holy hell out of a camera doesn't really trick anyone into thinking there's more action going on then there is. Next time, just hire a fight choreographer. And if you did, could we please see the real fights, because these fights just made me dizzy. And that's dizzy in a bad way.)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an exercise in mediocrity. Sure, it shows production value and carries a hefty price tag, but it also shows some bad visual effects and a story that is only cohesive because its dots are connected between explosions.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
1 out of 5: You know, I can look back and say that I still dig the Green Arrow. I can also look back and say that I thought Anaconda was the worst movie I had ever seen, but now, I have seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

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