The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Movie Review
It has been 43 years since Sean Connery first donned the role of James Bond, but he is still going strong. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a sci-fi action movie based on a graphic novel, he plays a sharp-shooting British hero who seems as though he can survive just about any ordeal. He isn't James Bond, but aside from a few wrinkles and no female interests, he is just about the same, and he fits in the role like a hand in a glove.
Some have criticized Connery's performance in the movie as being bland, but they must have been watching a different movie; Connery is funny and adventurous, all one needs out of such a good actor. He is given an abundance of one-liners, but with his accent, they sound like crafty dialogue. In almost every way, Connery holds this movie up by his fingertips.
That being said, it is quite clear that without Sean Connery, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would be nothing more than a flaky show of special effects (bad ones at that) and some jittery action. Connery is the only big name in the movie, though a few other faces are recognizable. The League (to which Fox's marketing department unfortunately attempted to "downsize" the title, which failed) is a perfect example of how the actor makes the movie; it is decent and moderately entertaining, but without Connery, would hardly get a second glance.
LXG (another title the marketing department tried to give this movie) is about a conglomerate of British folk heroes who team up to combat an insidious villain who is attempting to make money by selling weapons; of course, to create a market, he is going to start a World War in Europe and elsewhere. The movie takes place in 1899, but it is in essence a surreal film; Captain Nemo's inventions, of course, are far ahead of the time, as are tracking devices, Nazi-looking people and so forth. As mentioned already, Captain Nemo is one of the characters, but others include the Invisible Man, Mina Harkin the vampire, Allan Quatermain the adventurer (Connery), and Dr. Jekyll. This may be a stupid question, but the American in the movie is supposed to be Tom Sawyer, right? Anyway, the movie is cluttered with a bunch of fictional heroes and villains that I hardly have the faintest idea as to who they are (aside from the obvious ones), and that probably takes away from some of the fun, but if I don't know them, I'm sure a vast majority of the American public also does not know them.
LXG has its ups and downs along the way; sometimes it races along well, and at other times, stumbles mightily. The first major action scene is pretty neat, as is the ending. The whole sequence in Venice makes absolutely no sense (including a Titanic-size Nautilus that can glide undetected through the streets?), and there are a few other rough patches that could have been done much better. Some of the action is well-done, but a lot of the times the camera work is chaotic; for instance, it would have been nice if director Stephen Norrington would have just left the camera on Captain Nemo for a whole minute in a row when he was doing his kung fu.
What hurts the movie the most is the graphics. The special effects, to put it gently, are some of the worst I have seen in years (perhaps since that car crash scene in Along Came a Spider?). LXG is a surrealistic comic-book movie and thus it is perfectly allowable to have strange (hence surreal) surroundings and so forth, but the graphics are nowhere near acceptable. If the Nautilus doesn't bother you (doesn't the top part of the submarine look like a toilet or those little bowls in Europe where you can wash your genitals?), any scene with fire should. The fire (and special effects wizards have been able to do fire for decades now) looks fake. Of all the special effects, the only aspect that I really enjoyed was Mr. Hyde; he was pretty damn cool.
Nevertheless, regardless of its flaws, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does have a pretty good entertainment factor. It is never boring and at times is pretty funny; at other times, the action is pretty good, too. It could have been a lot better, and there is no real urge to see it a second time, but as a mindless popcorn movie, it could have been a lot worse.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.