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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

  Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Written by: Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, James Robinson
Starring: Sean Connery, Richard Roxburgh, Stuart Townsend
Links: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 3.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) is also mentioned in mino's review of Van Helsing (2004).

"The ‘X’ must stand for ‘Xcruciating’." - a review by mino

On paper, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (or LXG, as it's apparently also known) looks like one of those movie ideas that might produce an absolute masterpiece (well… cult masterpiece. I don't think ‘Victorian-era superheroes’ is ever going to match ‘civil war romance saga’ in the great premise stakes) or an absolute stinker.

Based on a graphic novel (yes, Virgina, that means ‘comic&rsquo), LXG is the story of a bunch of crimefighting superheroes who are, in fact, characters from Victorian fiction. There's Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, Allan Quartermain, Doctor Jekyll, and so on. Called upon to fight an evil mastermind intent on plunging the world into chaos (yeah, yeah, I know), they band together to… well, you get the idea.

LXG, given this premise (certainly novel, if nothing else) really could have been a fun, fairly mindless but quite entertaining action movie. How does it go? Well… I'll give it ‘mindless’, but that's about it.

Honestly, I can't see LXG as anything other than an abject failure. Making a bad movie is one thing; but making a bad movie when you've got a novel and interesting premise requires a certain kind of effort. However, Stephen Norrington manages to make a genuinely bad film here, despite having not only a clever idea to work with, but also a fairly impressive talent list. Sean Connery leads the way here — and while his presence can be enough to redeem an otherwise mediocre movie, that usually requires him to put in an effort. As Allan Quartermain, he scarcely even bothers to try, just running through the usual aging action-hero motions (think his role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), but not nearly as good). Given that he has an EP credit here too, it's hard not to think that LXG is some sort of attempt at making a giant tax write-off for himself.

Not only has a bunch of money been blown on talent who don't live up to expectations, but oodles of money are spent on special effects which, while obviously expensive, are really quite weak and unconvincing. Both of these can probably be traced to the same general problem — the feel the makers were obviously trying to achieve was a little bit camp, but they've gone way too far. Instead of making a fun, light-hearted romp, they've actually produced something which leaves you sitting there going ‘did they even try to make this a good movie?’.

The pantomime villains are awfully heavy-handed and clichéd, the plot twists are laughably obvious, and the action scenes are so totally ridiculous that even someone raised on a force-fed diet of Arnold Schwarzenegger action pulp would be hard-pressed not to roll their eyes at the patently stupid stretching of believability.

There are attempts at humour of several kinds — the knowingly bad line, the supposedly ‘clever’ witticism, and the knowing audience in-joke, for example — but none of them really work. It's unfunny, unengaging, and genuinely unentertaining. Like Mystery Men (1999) before it, LXG is a ham-fisted attempt at making a tongue-in-cheek superhero flick; and like Mystery Men it fails fairly dismally.

mino gives this movie 3 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 5 Apr 2004

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