'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' Review: Alan Moore Hates It
It's Comic Book Movie month, and boy did I get a controversial pick right off the bat. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was widely panned when it was released, partially due to the nonsensical plot and rushed final act. It's so bad that it was Connery's last major Hollywood film. It's really too bad that this is the case since this movie is pretty awesome, and yes I'm biased because I'm a total literature nerd. Also, Sean Connery. The movie is based off the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, the creator of such classics as Watchmen and From Hell. The idea of having a bunch of literary characters is genius, and one that could have only come from a master storyteller like Moore.
The plot of the film follows Alan Quartermain, played by the legendary Sean Connery, as he is tasked with taking down the mysterious Fantom, yes the one from The Phantom of the Opera, and his forces of evil. Along the way, he is joined by other literary heroes such as Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, and Tom Sawyer. They team up to form the eponymous league to take on the Fantom, and stop him from kick-starting a World War and ruling the world. It's your typical end of the world scenario, which isn't particularly creative, but it's set in a steampunk world that is interesting.
The actors in the film are top notch, with Connery stealing the show because he's Sean Connery. The gravitas that Connery brings to a role is indelible as he is playing, what I would imagine, is his take on an aged James Bond. He has the same quick wit along with being a total man's man in every sense of the idea. Along with Connery, Jason Flemyng, Shane West, and Richard Roxburgh are the real standouts of the film. Flemyng plays Dr. Jekyll with a level of humanity that isn't normally brought to the character, which is a refreshing change from a mindless hulking brute. Shane West is surprisingly great in his role as Tom Sawyer, a character that was added specifically for the film, and one that is a real highlight of the movie. His Sawyer is a younger version of Connery's Quartermain, and I imagine he would have taken up the mantle if further films had been made. Richard Roxburgh is M in the film, who turns out to be Professor Moriarty, and is great. He pulls off the evil conniving mastermind extremely well, and is a true challenge for the league.
My only issue with the film is that the plot is quite convoluted and wraps up way too quickly. Since the film does have a major twist halfway through, it takes too long for the main conflict to get going. Once it does however it is quite entertaining, but takes an inordinate amount of time to get interesting. Also, M's plan is to use DNA from the league to sell on the black market? Maybe? I still don't know, and it adds to the confusion of the film.
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was before its time, similar to Mystery Men, in that it was almost an indie version of The Avengers with actually talented actors. While the plot is convoluted and takes way too long to actually buildup conflict, the performances by Connery, Roxburgh, West, and Flemyng are worth sticking around for. Also, this is the only movie I've seen that features bad-ass literary characters teaming up to stop the forces of evil. It's a total guilty pleasure film and one that is undeserving of all the hatred that it has received since its release.
Final Say: Watch It