‘League’ extraordinarily disappointing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Throughout &uot;The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen&uot; I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing that would have made this an extraordinary summer movie.

It had a good cast. How can you go wrong with Sean Connery? One of my co-workers told me she could watch the man read the phone book. I was familiar with a few others: Richard Roxburgh (&uot;Moulin Rouge&uot;), Jason Flemyng (&uot;The Red Violin&uot;), and Stuart Townsend (&uot;The Queen of the Damned&uot;). The others were at least interesting to observe.


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Special effects? There were some eye-catching moments, such as Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran) putting on face make-up to be partially seen. The camera moves around him and you see the other side of the mask. Then there’s Mina Harker’s (Peta Wilson) transformation into a vampire, complete with bats.

Story line? M (Roxburgh) has called together what we know as literary characters that are real people in this instance.

Their mission is to prevent a worldwide catastrophe being orchestrated by The Phantom, with help from his henchman, Dante (Max Ryan).

The league is comprised of Allan Quartermain (Connery), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), the Invisible Man (Curran), Harker, Tom Sawyer (Shane West), Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and Dorian Gray. If you don’t recognize any of these names, shame on you! Start spending time inside a library, not a movie theater!

The movie is based on a limited comic book series of the same name by Alan Moore (&uot;From Hell&uot;) and Kevin O’Neill. Stephen Norrington of &uot;Blade&uot; fame directs.

What’s missing? My aforementioned co-worker explained: &uot;Depth.&uot;

It’s hard to get worked up about a story line (Europe on the edge of a world war in 1899) that’s been exhausted. There was no danger in the story that could get a viewer genuinely concerned.

The characters were interesting, but not especially likable. Everyone seemed uncomfortable with each other.

Had this movie been done 20 or even 30 years ago, it would be much more exciting. But we’ve been seeing things like this in other movies for years.

Comic books made into movies are rarely as successful as the colored pages, although Stan Lee’s X-Men comic characters are a recent and notable exception. That has worked because it has a clear message about treating people who are different from the norm with respect.

Any relevant messages in ‘League’ were, like the motive of the villain, buried at the end.

Too little. Too late. Too bad.