League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Masked Reviewer

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  It's also known as LXG.  Why is that?  The Masked Reviewer supposes that every superhero movie has to have a catchy acronym or be known by it's initials.  LEG would be more accurate, but that's hardly as sexy as LXG.  X sells.  Just look at X-Men, XXX, and X-Men 2.  LEG would just be confusing.  Perhaps people would think it's a movie about crime fighters sponsored by "Nair."  "They're fearless...and look how smooth their legs are!"

This film is the adaptation of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's comic book.  Of course, let's not forget to mention that most of the characters in the film are lifted from literature set or written in the Victorian era.  The Masked Reviewer has mixed thoughts about this.  It's kind of cool to see characters you already know, like the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde, Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, and even Tom Sawyer.  Then again, it may make it difficult to walk outside, what with so many authors spinning in their graves.

That's not to say that LXG isn't good.  It's enjoyable at times.  But lifting someone else's characters (even though all the original authors are long dead) seems wrong somehow.  Wrong or lazy.  But, on the other hand, taking something we know and changing it a bit is what makes new art.  So, in conclusion, the Masked Reviewer won't get into those philosophical or ethical issues.

The movie, set in 1899, will reference everything that the average person would associate with that year.  In addition references are made to characters and events that had nothing to do with the film, just to set the scene. 

The movie is unusual.  It's interesting, and chock-full of special effects.  You'll see effects similar to The Hulk, Hollow Man, X-Men, K-19: the Widowmaker, and even a bit of Matrix.  It's kind of a mix of Batman and X-Men, set in the late nineteenth century. 

One might hope that this film would spark an interest in classic literature.  The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Jeckyll and Hyde, Dracula, Tom Sawyer, Sherlock Holmes, King Solomon's Mines, The Invisible Man, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea are all source material.  They've all been tweaked (Tom Sawyer is now a government agent).  Some have been replaced (Hawley Griffin, the invisible man from the novel, has been replaced by Rodney Skinner, for some reason).  Some are pretty far from the source material (Mina wasn't a vampire in Dracula but she is in LXG).  Did Captain Nemo know martial arts in 20,000 Leagues?  Was Mr. Hyde transformed into a 10 foot tall muscle bound hulk?  One might suppose those old dusty characters needed a fresh new superhero outlook on life.

In any event, the film is interesting, and while it's perhaps overloaded with special effects, it does create a mood and a classic kind of adventure film feel.  The writing isn't great, there's not a lot of comedy in it, but the somewhat dark tone is interesting.  The characters are not surprisingly rather flat...the screenwriter didn't bother to tell us much about the characters because we should already know them.  But, then again, these aren't the characters we knew. 

The effects are all over the place.  The Masked Reviewer has said it before and will say it again: computer effects aren't always the best solution.  One scene in particular features a building that blows up.  Rather than blow it up, they used a digital explosion, which looked cheezy.  Some of the effects in the film are fine, but others are not good at all.  There's a scene featuring a white tiger that walks out in the snow.  It looks horrible.  Certainly cheaper to do it digitally than to find a real white tiger and make it walk around in the snow, but how could something so simple look so bad?  It's a real tiger.  It doesn't look real.  When you have something real looking fake, you know you've overpaid your visual effects team. 

The acting is fine.  Sean Connery is Allan Quartermain and he's fun to watch.  Peta Wilson (TV's "La Femme Nikita") is a sexy vampiress.  Most of the others are young attractive actors who haven't done many big roles.  They're all okay.  It is nice to see that the two biggest ass-kickers in the film, Allan Quartermain and Captain Nemo, are both played by actors over 50.  The League of Extraordinarily Old Gentlemen may be the sequel.

There is a confusing point about the bad guy in the film.  He seems to be given one name in the film and another name (from the same author) in the credits.  Maybe the screenwriters never read their source material.

A nice moment in the film features all of the good guys standing in a circle and putting a hand in the middle, like the do in various sports like basketball.  The Masked Reviewer would have liked this film a lot more if they'd said "Go team!" or "Gooooo League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!" but they didn't.

In the end, LXG  is a somewhat interesting action film that ends up being somewhat unfulfilling.  It's not horrible, but it's not great.  It's kind of interesting, but not really.  It's okay.  The effects are sometimes okay, sometimes horrible.  The Hulk-like effect of Mr. Hyde is probably better than Hulk's effects. 

It's an okay movie that doesn't deliver much.  If you love Victorian era literature, you might like this film -- or you might hate all the liberties they take with characters.  If you like Sean Connery, he's good in this, and he rolls up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty.  By the way, how come his eyebrows are black?  The rest of his hair is white.  Does he dye his eyebrows? 

It's better than The Hulk, and it's not bad...it just seems like there should've been more.


Expectation from the Title: Four men.  Their lives changed forever.  The event: bowling league.  They would rise above their day jobs when they bowled to become...

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Maybe if you read once in a while instead of always watching TV, you'd get some of the references in this film.

The Pros: Interesting premise, some good action, kind of interesting story.

The Cons: Doesn't really feel like it goes anywhere, character development was weak, special effects were often not good, most of the effects have been seen before (and better done).

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