The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

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Loosely based on the critically acclaimed comic book from critically acclaimed author Alan Moore, “LXG” tells the tale of Allan Quartmain, an aging adventurer in 1899 who is called upon by a mysterious man named M who enlists him and six other super-powered beings whose powers are parallel to legendry literary characters who must fight a warlord called “The Phantom” who plans to take over the world. Alan Moore presents an idea and concept so ingenious and brilliant, I was stunned upon hearing of it. Take some of the most famous heroes and villains in literary history and turn them into superheroes. What turns up as the end result is a guilty pleasure that kept me entertained all the way through.

The concept for the film is based around Allan Quartermain as an aging adventurer, and Captain Nemo, who is now a strict commander of his Attilus. There’s also Mina Harker is now a part vampire and seductive heroine, To finish off the team, there’s The Invisible Man as a thief, the aristocratic charming Dorian Gray, and Dr. Henry Jekyll who, with the help of his elixir turns into the hulking Mr. Hyde. They’re all assembled by “M”, the mysterious leader of the group. Throughout the film, they must take on the enigmatic “The Phantom” (whose identity I wouldn’t dare to reveal, but it is a real jaw dropper). Director Stephen Norrington manages to present a film that was in the tradition of many of the old fifties serials that were so enjoyable. For the incredible characters, Norrington enlists some talented character actors to take up the slack.

As main hero and adventurer Allan Quartermain, legendary actor Sean Connery whose been in previous action tales such as the “James Bond” films and the bomb “The Avengers” takes up task and manages to handle the role with much vigor. He’s very believable as the character and becomes a true tour de force in the part. He manages to pull of some of the best action scenes and even tends to outdo some of the other cast members while doing it. What makes the film work is the conflict between the characters and the dysfunctional motif thrown onto the audience. They’re all shady characters, mostly dependent upon their character’s novel back–grounds, and all become questionable during the search for the traitor within the group.

It soon becomes an intriguing mystery to discover who might be infiltrating the mission and how they are doing so. It becomes shocking to discover who the traitor is in the group as the story builds up the suspense and atmosphere almost sweeping the rug from under us. Along with many other superhero teams, “LXG” might not rank as one of the most clever, but there’s a lot of difference between the members. There are many subtle and very witty literary references that only a true reader or aficionado of classic literature would know. From Sherlock Holmes, The Phantom of the Opera (The Phantom’s Mask, scarred face, and mystique), and even the most hilarious of all “Moby Dick” when Nemo’s valet’s first words are: “Call me, Ismael.”

Sadly, this could have been a truly excellent action adventure yarn had it not taken such giant leaps of logic. What becomes hard to ignore are the scenes in Venice. There’s a scene where the Attilus, a ship the height of a skyscraper rushed through the waters of Venice and then is tall enough to just scrape the top of a bridge. It never makes a large tidal wave nor does it disturb any of the landscapes. Then there’s an epic car chase scenes through the streets of Venice. That and other goofy moments bog down the story, but it all makes for some good action fodder, nonetheless. Despite giant lapses in logic and time period inaccuracies, “LXG” prompts audiences to turn off their common sense, sit back and enjoy what is essentially a guilty pleasure from top to bottom.