If the mission was to employ as many special effects shops as possible, then the "League of extraordinary Gentlemen" succeeds wildly, however as a cinematic translation that does justice to the original cult comic book series created by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil, "LXG", as its also known, falls flat.
Although I am longtime reader of author Alan Moore, picking up the single issues of "Swamp Thing", "V for Vendetta", and "the Watchmen" comics as they came out years ago, I missed the boat on reading the more recent "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". So when I heard about the film release, I decided to wait and see the movie first, so that regardless of how the adaptation turned out, I'd at least have reading the collected stories that a friend at work loaned to me to look forward to.
And man, am I glad I waited. While the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" movie whetted my appetite to explore the smartly crafted setting and scenes played out in the paneled pages, the movie just can't compare to the comic. For example, as shiny and oversized as Captain Nemo's ship is portrayed in the movie, it is nowhere near as cool it as it was originally imagined as a massive squid of steel.
As an introduction to the Leagues fantastic premise, where notable characters of fiction come together during 1899 to save the world, "LXG" works on a watered down level. At its surface we can enjoy the stylish period costumes and locales and smile as we catch a few of the literary in-jokes.
However a lot of the seedier subtext seen in the comic has been grinded down for the masses. Sean Connery's character of Alan Quartermaine is no longer a recovering drug addicted adventurer, but a sorrowful old hunter with a need for a father and son plot device to hold himself up as the story hobbles along.
Other characters aren't as badly treated, however undeveloped they may be. Stuart Townsend brings Oscar Wilde's legend of Dorian Gray to life and the lovely Peta Wilson relishes her part as Jonathan Harkers' widow Mina who was last seen in Bram Stokers nightmares, and now has a particular appetite for blood.
So if it's a hot summer day with and you're wondering which Victorian themed hero fantasy to plug into, I'd suggest you skip the Cineplex and find a comic shop with a trade paperback reprinting the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" stories as they were meant to be enjoyed.
Thankful that there are still good comics coming out that bad movies can be based on, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2003 - Purple - Air Date: 7/16/03
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
USA - 2003