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July 2003
2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
20th Century Fox  Release (US) 07/01/03
Review by Daniel Dern

Official Site:

Directed by Stephen Norrington Writing credits: Alan Moore (III) (comic books) and Kevin O'Neill (IX) (comic books)

Cast: Sean Connery . Allan Quatermain / Naseeruddin Shah . Captain Nemo / Peta Wilson . Mina Harker / Tony Curran . Rodney Skinner (The Invisible Man) / Stuart Townsend . Dorian Gray / Shane West . Tom Sawyer / Jason Flemyng . Dr. Henry Jekyll aka Mr. Edward Hyde / Richard Roxburgh . M Max Ryan . Dante / Tom Goodman-Hill . Sanderson Reed / David Hemmings (I) . Nigel / Terry O'Neill (I) . Ishmael / Rudolf Pellar . Draper / Winter Ave Zoli . Eva / Robert Willox . Constable Dunning

The movie "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.." is based on the graphic novel -- or, arguably more accurately, the series of comics books -- of the same name,) by Alan Moore, well-known (among comic fans) as the author/creator of The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, MiracleMan, Supreme (see my review of the Supreme trade paperbacks elsewhere this issue), Top 10, Tom Strong, Promethea, and of many great issues of DC's Swamp Thing, several seminal issues of Superman, etc. (Can you tell I'm an Alan Moore fan?) In the movie, In the year 1899, danger threatens, requiring the services of extraordinary persons, who I won't list, to minimize spoilers, other than Sean Connery as Alan Quartermain (hero of H.Rider Haggard's book, King Solomon's Mines, if I recall correctly). The notion of bringing in and mixing other people's fictional characters isn't new -- Phil Jose Farmer did some interesting takes on Doc Savage meets Tarzan, for example -- but I've lost track whether a mix like this is new. It's basically "(super) heroes sometimes with powers, but no costumes." In any case, wonders and fighting ensue, with fisticuffs, shooting and explosions galore.

It's techno-steampunk, or whatever -- the grand technology of the turn of the previous century, a la Verne and Wells, on steroids, gussied up with the architectural design and frills that make it a delight to see. A great job by Sean Connery and crew. Having read only a few issues of this series -- and none in this story arc -- I didn't have many expectations. At least one friend who'd read many issues had complaints about subtleties that were lost, to which I can say, "Poo, I don't care."

This movie's gotten a lot of hohum reviews. I enjoyed it enough -- at least as much as I did The Hulk, possibly as much (altho differently) as Pirates of the Caribbean. I certainly liked it a lot better than the reviews I skimmed led me to expect. If you were among the few watching the will-be-missed series The Incredible Secret Adventures of Jules Verne on SciFi channel during the past years, you'll have a sense of familiarity, not of specifics but of some of the historic feel of the machineries although this movie's on a bigger canvas, and louder. ("Verne" was often a great show, I miss it.) My SO Bobbi's main comment: "I'm getting tired of fight scenes too dark to see what's going on." Blame it perhaps on the cost of CGI effects, which make dark stuff easier/cheaper?

Summary: See Pirates of the Carribean, The Hulk, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; enjoy them all. One and a half, maybe three quarters (of two) extra-ordinary thumbs up.

Daniel Dern - Freelance technology writer ddern at world{dot}std{dot}com or Contributing Editor,; Graphic novel reviewer, (See for links to samples of my work.)

2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
columns - events - features - booksmedia                    home  /  subscribe