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10/7/13

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN - REVIEW


Alright, so I'm cheating a little bit.

LXG may not technically be a vampire movie but Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula is in it so I'm still reviewing it, goshdarnit!

Based on Alan Moore's cult comic-book series, this famous flop unites a group of classic literary heroes, anti-heroes and villains in an Avengers-style team-up as these new unlikely pals face a powerful foe: the mysterious Phantom who appears to be planning some sort of megalomaniac world-domination plot. The gang includes legendary adventurer Alan Quartermain (Sean Connery), Tom Sawyer (Shane West), Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), The Invisible Man (Tony Curran), Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Jason Flemyng) and Mina Harker (Peta Wilson). Together at last! Not much in terms of information is given to us as to why any of this is going on but I suppose that, similarly to how Watchmen was set on an alternate version of the 1980's, so too was LXG, except in an alternate Victorian Age. If you think about either the plot or why these specific characters are involved too much, the whole film will crumble into itself instantly and you'll get a very unpleasant nosebleed. How come Harker can go out during the day? How come the Nautilus is the size of Venice? Where's Sherlock Holmes? Why Tom Sawyer? Why, where, what... you get the idea. All that said, if logic is what you're expecting with a premise like this one, you might as well throw away all your Marvel films right now. I know it's a lot to buy but you kinda just have to accept the reality of that world in order to watch it without hating it instantly.

Believe it or not, I actually really like the premise!

I even like the characters in the League itself and the film's overall gothic/steampunk style. Then again, I tend to like films that either mix genres or build a fresh Hammer horror-style to create a new old flick, if that makes any sense. As panned as they were (much like LXG), Van Helsing was stupid but fun and Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow I still find wrongly underrated. LXG is somewhere in between, closer to something like The Wolfman: kinda trashy and over-the-top as hell. The League is actually much more action-packed and entertaining, more in the vein of the Hellboy movies. Now, as much as I do like the characters in this movie, I have to admit that it does fail to live up to its potentially cool premise. There are some great dynamics between Quartermain and Sawyer, between Harker and Gray, for example, but too much time is spent explaining to us who these people are and what they're known for being able do when all that is pretty darn obvious for anyone who's ever read a book. Meanwhile, the villain is given no connection to the novels he came out of. It's all very inconsistent. Hell, The Invisible Man's face goes from half CGI to full normal dude and back every couple of shots, it's kinda distracting. There is a lot of action in this movie but 90% of it is pretty forgettable and way too much time is spent just watching these guys chat on the Nautilus. That's the problem with crossover team-up movies, once you get everyone together, you HAVE to get them to do awesome things straight away and every single character needs to be given a chance to shine. LXG needed to be a little brighter, energetic and do more with its solid cast and deliver a more original plot in order to be a somewhat more accessible blockbuster.

Sadly, it wasn't meant to be.

LXG bombed terribly and even prompted Sean Connery to retire which is a shame because, honestly, it's not too bad of a film! There's faaaaaar worse out there and, at least, I can say I enjoyed parts of this movie. Wilson's vampire is kick-ass, Townsend's Dorian Gray is great fun, the film boasts mostly really decent effects and, like I said, the whole steampunk surreal thing is enjoyable. It's possible that the film just came out at the wrong time. In a time where films like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters get sequels, LXG could have easily continued on for a sequel or two at least. I'm thinking an over-saturation of that kind of Matrix-style action film back in the early 2000's killed The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen mercilessly. Think about it: Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Blade II, Underworld, Resident Evil, all these movies coming out almost at the same time and this more obscure venture pops up: who's gonna go and see that? Back in the day, I thought it looked like fun but even I didn't end up going to see it! Same goes for Van Helsing.

Overall, I do recommend you seeing LXG at least once. It's by no means perfect or a must-watch but if the silly premise sounds like fun to you, if you like the characters involved, chances are you'll find a couple of things about the movie you'll like, even if it doesn't live up to its source material.

Just... give LXG a bit of a break.

Poor thing's harmless enough and did mean well!

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