"Extraordinary Gentlemen indeed."
Sean Connery’s final film in a major role is in the first adaption of one of Alan Moor’s graphic novels, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And though it would have been nice to see his carrier go out with a bang, an unfortunately reality is that’s all it went out with. The League might be a great with the effects, action scenes and overall visuals but it is a major misstep in characters.
Perhaps this is what the makers of the Avengers should be wary of. The film is a collection of different legendary characters pulled from better movies based off of classic books. Thus you can count on them being interesting on screen. The script however, fails to balance them properly, which is hell on the pacing of the film and the overall characterization. Some get more screen time than others and in an attempt to jam development for all of them, we get lengthy and boring exposition dialogue between them.
But what is the plot of the film that brings these classic fictional heroes together? The movie follows Allan Quarterman played by Sean Connery who is living peacefully in what looks like a retirement home in Africa. Along comes a man named “M”, no not someone confused and thinking he is in a James Bond film. M stands for another legendary character of literature, this time from the Sherlock Holmes series. He recruits Quarterman as a member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to help stop a figure known as The Phantom (no not the purple guy) from causing a world war.
The plot feels pretty convoluted at times and there is a certain amount of inherent cheesiness that comes with the territory but that’s not the real problem. I can handle some good ol’ fashion cheese, hell some times I revel in it. I am a Doctor Who fan after all. The real problem is born from how they attempt to juggle all the actors and their respective rolls.
The movie has a fun collection of characters ranging from Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jakyll/Hyde, The Invisible Man, the wife of Dracula, and Captain Nemo from 2000 Leagues Under the Sea. All the actors do reasonably well with their rolls and bring interesting characterization to the table. In fact it is almost entirely the fault of the script that they got little development and uneven screentime. Of course some were better than others.
My personal favorite was Jason Flyming as Dr. Jekyll who is pretty much the Leagues version of the Hulk. The league first has to hunt him down and after they find him he remains an unpredictable and dangerous ally. Jekyll seems to struggle against his inner demon and does a great job of it. Hyde looks pretty good too, being a complex and impressive costume rather than a mess of CGI. He made a better Hulk than the Ang Lee’s Hulk did.
Unfortunately perhaps the least impressive performance was by Sean Connery. For some reason he just looked tired throughout the entirety of the film. Much of it felt phoned in and without much creativity or thought. It really isn’t surprising that he retired from acting soon after this. Seeing him standing on the submarine just made me want to go back and watch Hunt for Red October.
I can’t write the review without at least mentioning the downright gorgeous visuals that still look great today. If there is one thing that you can count on an Alan Moore CBM for, it’s quality and innovative visuals. As great as the visuals were they still weren’t enough to hold up then entire, bloated story and overly long running time.
So that is pretty much it for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It may have fun characters with interesting roots but and overly long running time, poor balancing of characters and major pacing problems left it dragging at some moments and rushing at others. The visuals do help it though and if you are looking for a dumb action flick it might be worth a look. Bottom line. This isn’t the awful film you heard about but it sure as hell isn’t the great one you were hoping for either. Then again, I never read the comic so I don’t have the history to be really mad at it.
FINAL RATING: 5/10- (50%)
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