The English language does not contain enough negative adjectives to describe this movie.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will forever live at the top of several important film lists, and I don’t mean the AFI best films of the decade either. No. Stephen Norrington’s abomination is notable not only for adding to the list of current films based on popular comic books, but for topping the list of terrible film adaptations of comic books, the list of bad Sean Connery movies, the list of great cinematic mistakes, the list of films that show a staggering geographic, historical, and literary ignorance, the list of films that openly hate their audience, and finally, the list of films so bad everyone involved in the production should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn’t a film, it’s an ordeal.
Now, I’ve yet to read the graphic novel and comic series by Allan Moore upon which this film is purportedly based, but I know enough about the story to accept that the film takes classic literary characters and uses them in a sort of alternate universe story. This is the sort of literary playing around that used to occur in the old Marvel Comics “What If” series, you know, “What if The Fantastic Four never flew through the Van Allen Belt?” or “What if Spider Man joined the Avengers?”.
These stories always offered a high fun quotient because it let the creators of these characters play around with the darker (or lighter) elements of their established properties. They were never meant to be taken literally and they were never meant to exist in the normal comic title timeline or universe.
I got all that. I was ready. I was prepared to see several classic lit characters re-imagined for a hitherto unwritten adventure story. What I wasn’t prepared for was the rumble deep with the Earth’s crust as H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Welles, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, and Jules Verne simultaneously hit 50,000 RPMs, spun from their graves and blasted into space.
Never have I witnessed such a keen display of literary ignorance, such a display of ignorance of source material, and such ignorance of even the basic elements required of effective storytelling. I realize that the many of the people who see this film will have no idea who Allen Quatermain, Mina Harker, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Tom Sawyer, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Hawley Griffin, or Captain Nemo are, or were, and what significance they have to literary adventure and science fiction in both history and culture, and for all intents and purposes MAY enjoy this movie, but I’m not one of them.
We begin in 1899 with a screen crawl (never a good sign) stating that the world still fights its wars with single shot rifles and horse-drawn artillery on predetermined battlefields, but that forces are moving upon the Earth who will draw the world into a war of unimaginable proportions.
Remember, it’s 1899.
Okay, so fair enough. The next shot is a quiet London street where the local constabulary make their rounds. A rumbling fills the air and as the “bobbies” scramble around to find the source of the noise a tank (circa 1917) rolls through a building facade and down the street towards the Bank of London.
Okay, before I go any further let’s have a History Channel moment to discuss the development of the tank. The first tanks ever developed were in direct response to the horrific stagnation of the trench lines in France and Belgium during the second half of The First World War. Used successfully only by Britain, led the charge at Cambria and broke the entrenched German line. This decisive battle turned the tide against the food and morale starved Germans and gave the British and French the momentum they needed to break the stagnation and force the Germans to Armistice.
Tanks were designed specifically because soldiers needed a weapon to counteract the effectiveness of the Maxim machine guns employed by the German army. The first tanks were deployed in 1917, a full 18 years later than the opening screen crawl tells us.
At this point I shook my head and whispered “be cool Big, it’s only a movie.”
The tank thunders through the bank until it reaches the vault, blows the vault door, and disgorges a squad of men dressed as Weirmacht storm troopers (that is; Nazi’s) who steal a collection of Da Vinci maps of Venice.
The soldiers all speak German so naturally the British government blames Germany for the theft. We learn this via spinning newspaper.
Cut to a zeppelin hangar in Berlin where another tank (the same tank apparently) lumbers through the wall, a man steps out and fires a shoulder launched missile at the three Hydrogen airships docked there. The airships explode, well, sort of... they actually burn up like the Hindenburg did... See, the thing is, the Hindenburg didn’t explode, the skin of the airship picked up a static charge, when the landing wires touched the tower in NJ the resultant arc ignited the paint on the skin of the vessel. The hydrogen fed the fire and the ship sank, in flames, to the ground.
Oh the humanity.
If a rocket were to ignite the hydrogen inside the gas sacks of the airships (in the hangar) the explosion would be akin to detonating several hundred pounds of TNT, everything in and around the hangar would be essentially atomized.
Not in this film... Norrington uses the Hindenburg disaster as a model for the special effects and in doing so demonstrates that he hasn’t the slightest understanding of chemistry. Again, I seriously doubt the many Americans who blunder into this atrocity will know the difference. I mean, after all, we Americans still debate whether natural selection/evolution or an omnipotent extraterrestrial provide the driving factor behind human development and, based on that conflict of superstition versus hard science, can’t decide what we want to teach our kids in public school.
Okay, so the Germans blame the Brits for this act of terrorism (again with the spinning newspaper) and we are now on the brink of world war.
Strange, no mention is made of alliances in any of the spinning newspaper bits, and were these attacks meant to suggest that, like in 1914 when Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in the streets of Sarajevo that touched off the escalation leading to The First World War. Before you throw the words “World War” at us the SCRIPT has to take a minute to explain the alliances involved.
The first world war didn’t just happen. Germany was formally allied with Austria Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, which of course required a mutual defense pact. France, on the other hand, maintained an alliance with Britain, Belgium, and Russia, who view the Serbians as brothers. Princip was a Serbian nationalist, and Ferdinand was Austro-Hungarian. When Austria-Hungary reacted to Serbian nationalism with force, Russia declared war and all the allies with their mutual defense pacts were drawn into the conflict.
In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen we’re just told that the world is at the brink of war, and that’s supposed to be good enough. I guess in this day and age of black and white politics and patriotism (in place of rational thought) most folks can accept this, although I think it is less acceptance and more blinding ignorance of the time period. Steven Norrington better watch his ass when this film (and I use this term very loosely) gets to Europe because Europeans know their history and tend to take it much more seriously than we do.
I told myself again, “it’s only a movie.”
This is only three minutes into the film and I already regretted not buying tickets to “From Justin to Kelly” instead.
We cut to Kenya. Kenya? In 1899? There was no Kenya in 1899! Kenya didn’t gain independence from the British Empire until 1969! The area know today as Kenya was then known as British East Africa!
Must... Resist... The... Urge... To.... Scream!
A British man enters a posh hunting lodge containing several old British men, probably colonial officials or big game hunters. This man seeks the legendary Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery), finder of King Solomon’s Mines, and mythic figure in the adventure obsessed British press.
Allan Quatermain is played by none other than Sean Connery as a man trying desperately to hide from his mythic past, yet still displaying the nauseating arrogance of a mythic hero. He’s found a home in Africa, and peace, and doesn’t want his life to change. As he rebuffs the call to serve the Queen and country four men enter the club also looking for Allan Quatermain. These are not agents of the Monarchy, but soldiers armored with cast iron breastplates beneath their dusters (long cowboy jackets) and, inexplicably, submachine guns.
They start shooting up the place.
Allan Quatermain yelps “automatic weapons?” as if he would have any idea at all what the hell an automatic weapon was. Here we go, another History Channel minute, the submachine gun was developed IN RESPONSE TO BATTLEFIELD CONDITIONS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
Okay, I had to get that out of my system.
Channeling the worst episodes of The A-Team, the four men manage to shoot up the entire place and not hit Allan Quatermain. Get used to it, like Battlefield Earth, the bad guys will shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and nary a hero will get even a scratch for virtually all of this movie.
Allan Quatermain, being the geriatric fighting machine, beats the hell out of three of the assailants while one tosses a grenade (another WW1 invention) into the club and flees into the veldt.
I am going to have to look at Yahoo news or something, but there must be something affecting the availability of steady cams in Hollywood. What the hell is with modern directors shooting action sequences, almost exclusively fight scenes, as if they strapped the camera to an epileptic in a strobe light factory? Every single fight scene in this movie is completely and totally incomprehensible. He either shoots them from cockroach perspective and in silhouette, or flails the camera around the set like crazed ape with a bad case of testicular poison ivy.
I guess it goes to show that Norrington simply isn’t any good without Wesley Snipes around to tell him what to do. Look at Blade! It contains some of the best fight sequences of recent memory, and therefore it’s obvious that Norrington KNOWS how to shoot a fight sequence, so what the hell happened in this movie! Here’s my theory, Wesley Snipes actually directed Blade (aside from co-producing it) but knew he’d be pegged as a vain asshole were he to release a film produced, directed by and starring himself, so he hires some patsy to “play” director for him. Maybe I’m crazy, but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!
Okay, back to this disaster of a movie.
Quatermain gives chase to the fleeing soldier, but only to a few yards outside the club where he demonstrates his marksmanship by winging the guy at 5 or 6 hundred yards with his long rifle.
As soon as the natives bring him back, the club explodes.
Cut to London, again. Now, there is a distinctive style that directors tend to choose when filming a comic book inspired movie, they usually either try to remind viewers of the pulpy origins of the material by using the colors, perspectives, and even in some extreme cases, mimicking the paneled layout of the traditional comic page. The other approach is to try as hard as you possibly can to distance your material from the comic by not making anything look even remotely like a comic book. Good and bad comic book films have been made using either approach. Norrington tries for the first approach and for the most part succeeds. London though looks a lot empty. I guess he couldn’t digitally insert the hundreds of thousands of people who would have been going about their daily business in the most prosperous city on Earth in 1899. Then again, maybe he just didn’t care... Hell if he couldn’t care enough to spend one second learning when Kenya became a country, then why should he give a shit about the milieu of London in 1899, right?
Deep below er... a building, forgive me for forgetting which one as I was trying to gnaw off both my legs and crawl off to “Alex and Emma”, Allan Quatermain is introduced to the defacto leader of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, M. (Richard Roxburgh) And I won’t spoil who M is suffice to say 90% of the audience won’t get the reference anyway.
M explains the whole Britain and Germany on the brink of war thing and goes on to explain the purpose of the league, that is, to stop the madman known as The Phantom, from bringing his nefarious plan to fruition.
And what is The Phantom’s nefarious plan? Why to sink the city of Venice Italy into the lagoon upon which it’s built and thus drag Italy into the coming war. Joining Quatermain on his adventure is Skinner (Tony Curran), a thief who stole the invisibility formula from Dr. Hawley Griffin and has become invisible as well, Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), wife of deceased Real Estate agent Johnathan Harker and victim of Count Dracula, Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), a former pirate and captain of the super-duper submarine Nautilus.
But there are two members of the League not yet accounted for and we get to follow the intrepid band of literary characters to the residence of Dorian Grey, trailing them is a mysterious young man. Rather than say, walk to Dorian Grey’s house or take a horse drawn carriage, they League rides off in Captain Nemo’s car. Which is sort of like the car driven by supermarionation superstar Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds. Driving the car is Nemo’s first made Ishmael, the protagonist of Moby Dick.
At this point I’d abandoned my plan to chew off my legs and instead attempted to suffocate myself with popcorn.
Okay, setting aside the fact that the internal combustion engine was little more than a novelty in 1899, the car as envisioned by Nemo is as modern as they get. I was surprised he didn’t point out airbags and seat belts and a CD player.
Adding insult to injury no one in London gives this mechanical monstrosity a second thought. I like to think people seeing a car for the very first time, especially one with the design of Nemo’s, throngs of people would crowd around that thing like it had the Beatles in it.
No one even gives it a second glance.
Okay, they arrive at the residence of Dorian Grey (Stuart Townsend), a man who is both older than Methuselah but as young and good looking as any twenty something dandy. He and Mina have some mysterious past relationship that isn’t ever made clear, and he is reluctant to join the League on their intrepid adventure. However that all changes when The Phantom attacks the League in Dorian’s library.
Again we get an A-Team/spastic cameraman fight sequence as millions of rounds are fired and no one is hit meanwhile Allan Quatermain and the others dispatch the attackers with fisticuffs, and in the case of Nemo, Shaolin kung fu.
Also infiltrating the library is American secret agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West ).
One of the evil henchmen grabs Mina Harker and places a knife to her throat unaware that she is a creature of the night. She easily removes herself from his clutches and feeds on him.
I, for one, would like to call the UN Security Council together and put forth a proposal for a ten-year moratorium on vampire movies and television. There is no reason at all to convert the adventurous vampire hunter of the comic to an actual vampire in the film (or is there? Well, we’ll find out later...). More frustrating is that Norrington or James Robinson (screenwriter) imbuing Harker with vampirism, they don’t even follow the vampire lore as established in the book from which her character is born. She look in mirrors, she walks around in the sunlight, she turns into a whole flock of CGI bats... But then, I guess making her a Stoker vampire would make it easy for The Phantom to get around her very presence. “Okay men, everyone wears a garlic clove as part of their new uniform.”
By now I’d run out of popcorn and was still not dead. I begged Mrs. McLargehuge to kill me but she refused. I turned to erstwhile movie buddy Gristle McThornbody but he’d slunk so far down in his seat to escape the film that only his feet were visible.
I was trapped.
Again with the villains dispatched The Phantom makes a break for the dark and confusing streets of London with Allan Quatermain in hot pursuit. Then, Quatermain just gives up and goes back to the library where Dorian Grey agrees to join the band of merry archetypes.
All but one of the league is in place and they must locate the last in Paris, but how will they get to Paris. With only a few days before the attack in Venice, it’s critical that they collect their last member and make for the floating Italian city. How will they get there? Well, the conversation takes them to a quiet dock on the Thames. Of course this is where Nemo reveals his submarine, and what a submarine it is. The Nautilus rises from the depths of the river... er... and keeps on rising. The sub is easily as large as a battleship. So, how in the hell did it even get this far up the Thames River? How was it able to stay completely submerged and out of site just a few inches from the pier and being almost completely white?
Everyone embarks and they are off to Paris.
Like London, Paris is virtually deserted as Quatermain and Sawyer chase a big hulking monkey looking guy through the rooftops of the French capital. Their intent is to drive the beast to a carefully concealed net in one of the city’s dark alleys. They accomplish this by shooting near him and therefore driving him towards the trap. This is a stupid scene but it provides the impetus for Quatermain to deride Sawyers “American” shooting style.
When Sawyer asks why they need this ape like man in the League Quatermain explains that their prey is responsible for several murders in the Rue Morgue...
Hey, a Poe reference. By now I’d already self flagellated for not wearing shoes with laces with which to garrote myself. I glanced back in the theater into a sea of gaping mouths and wide, unbelieving eyes. Yes my readers, we were all in Hell together.
The ape man is captured and brought to the Nautilus. This, of course, is the manifest evil persona of one Dr. Henry Jekyll, Mr. Edward Hyde (Jason Flemyng). As I understand it the comic explains why, physically, Hyde is akin to the green skinned alter ego of one Bruce Banner, so I’ll let this one go suffice to say that in the Stevenson book Hyde represented the societally repressed urges of otherwise benevolent men. Jekyll’s serum merely removed the cultured inhibitions that keep otherwise benign men in check. Here though, Hyde is a hulking (pun intended) monster man with ridiculously long arms and a head placed almost in the middle of his chest.
Hyde is created using a combination man-in-obvious suit/obvious CGI and alternates between them. While in chains (not as it were attached to anything) Hyde manages to beat the hell out of several of Nemo’s men before transforming back to the emasculated Dr. Henry Jekyll.
Jekyll/Hyde accept the position in the League with a guarantee of pardoning for past crimes and allowed to return to England. Now, it’s already established that Hyde was murdering people in the Rue Morgue, and that he was exiled from England for the same sort of crimes. But hey, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?
The Nautilus sets off for Venice and simply screams along at ludicrous speed. Like London and Paris not a single ship is sighted between the sub and the horizon, although to get anywhere near Venice they would have to travel busy shipping lanes through the straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean.
But then, other people in the world aren’t important right? No... They are only the singular reason for this mission in the first place. You’d think Norrington would remind us of this other than verbally by actually letting the characters interact, or at least see, other people. But no. Not here. Other people are complicated so it’s best to leave them as a Platonic ideal.
Quatermain and Sawyer share a male bonding moment on the conning tower of the sub as Connery is demonstrating his legendary shooting skills by blasting pumpkins (or something that looks like pumpkins) fired over the side via a catapult. He takes ample time to deride Sawyers “spray and pray” shooting style.
We then get a whole long speech of expository dialogue about the death of Quatermain’s only son, but it has absolutely no bearing at all on the character other than to give Connery yet another reason to chew the scenery. We get it, he’s hurt, enough already.
Rather than pick up that the whole dead son thing is a bad issue to bring up Sawyer asks is Quatermain taught his son to shoot like this. Connery stalks off in silence.
Later, Quatermain realizes that Skinner is “shadowing” him and insists that from now on he is to power his face and remain dressed at all times. So much for invisibility. This, of course, never happens. Meanwhile someone has stolen one of the chemical vials from Dr. Jekyll’s kit which suggests he will be unable to transform into Edward Hyde unless he retrieves that vial.
Meanwhile some strange powder is found in the wheel house and the sub is off course. Why no one was in the wheel house as the sub was careening through the Mediterranean is anyone’s guess.
Mina, being the scientist of the group (what about Jekyll? Oh forget him, he’s just a vessel for Edward Hyde), discovers that the powder is magnesium sulfate, flash power for a camera. Dorian Grey and Mina flirt (following her discovery) and when Grey offers her a drink she shatters the glass in her hand cutting her fingers. He dabs her blood with a cloth, then they, apparently, have sex, as Mina’s blood lust becomes actual sex lust at the site of blood.
This is all very confusing.
Everyone agrees that Skinner is an agent of The Phantom, but since they can’t see him, assume he’s left the sub. Er... I guess...
The sub arrives in Venice and simply cruises up into the intricate canal system that makes the city famous. This is not only impossible given the size of the sub and the shallow depth of the canals, but even if it were possible, the water displacement of this massive ship would quite simply destroy the buildings lining the canals where the sub travels.
Norrington doesn’t even give us a ripple.
Venice is celebrating carnival, which is also wrong as Venice’s Carnival is a religious festival held in February at the beginning of Lent. This Carnival is taking place in the summer. Just one of the litany of problems with this whole scene. However, Carnival serves a purpose in this film, it gives Norrington the freedom to destroy several Venetian buildings and in doing so, infer that no Venetians are killed (because they are all out in the street).
The group debarks as do a whole bunch of Nemo’s divers. Before they can get in the water though, the bombs planted beneath one of the buildings explodes causing the building to topple into the building beside it. Within moments we have a domino effect of collapsing buildings.
The Venetians, who mere seconds ago were frolicking on the street, vanish from the film. Nemo deduces that they can stop the domino effect by firing a rocket into one of the buildings in the domino chain, and like domino trails made by kids and Guinness Book of World Record holders, the chain will be broken.
He leaps back into the sub with Dorian Grey and Ishmael to fire the rocket. Apparently the Nautilus is also the world’s first missile equipped sub. Forget that liquid fueled rockets won’t be invented for at least twenty years. But how will they determine which building to destroy? Simple, they need a signal. So Tom Sawyer leaps into Nemo’s car, a vehicle he has never seen before in his life, grabs Quatermain and Mina and heads off towards the falling buildings.
Um... okay, first of all Venice doesn’t have streets, so there is no way he could drive this car anywhere but into the water. Secondly, how in the hell does he know anything at all about the operation of this vehicle? I took driver’s ed dammit and I drive almost every day, so I know it takes a little skill and a hell of a lot of experience to drive not only safely, but at all!
As they careen through the nonexistent streets of Venice, soldiers loyal to The Phantom appear on the rooftops and fire thousands of rounds at the open top car. Of course, since they were trained by B.A. Barracus and Howlin’ Mad Murdock, they hit nothing. Mina leaps from the car and transforms into a cloud of angry bats to battle the soldiers.
Quatermain notices The Phantom darting down one of the narrow alleyways (which don’t exist in Venice) and jumps from the car. Forget that the car appears to be screaming along at, oh, I don’t know... 120 miles per hour. He lands flat footed and runs off into the night.
This leaves Sawyer alone in the car. He hits a ramp (on loan from an old episode of CHiPS, I guess) and in mid flight, turns and fires a flare. This is the signal to launch the rocket.
Ishmael launches the rocket.
Quatermain catches The Phantom in one of Venice’s nonexistent gothic cemeteries (the city is BUILT ON A LAGOON! They bury their dead in above ground crypts!) During their short (visible stuntman) fight Quatermain removes The Phantom’s mask.
In true Bond Villain fashion, The Phantom explains that he stands to make a fortune from weapons sales once the war gets underway and that his assembly of the League, the whole Venice operation, and everything else was a distraction meant to throw the League off the scent.
Wait one cotton-picking minute.
M created the League! Why the hell didn’t he just ignore them in the respective individual identities and embark on his cunning plan anyway? Quatermain wouldn’t have cared, Skinner would have remained a thief, Hyde would still be strangling people in the Rue Morgue, and Nemo would still be pirating (It literally kills me to write that).
Even stupider, why lay all your plans out when you haven’t already succeeded! Who is M, Dr. friggin Evil?
Okay, Mina and Quatermain leave the cemetery to the site of Venice in flames and a clutch of Carnival revelers oblivious to the destruction of a vast swath of Venice. Quatermain utters what is the single stupidest line of dialogue in recent memory, “Venice still stands”.
Right Allan, well, some of it does and the rest is in flames, but hey, why emphasize the negative.
By now Mrs. McLargehuge and Gristle McThornbody were curled into individual fetal positions and whimpering endlessly, I, on the other hand, entertained myself by ramming my face into the plastic seat-back of the row in front.
Meanwhile in the sub Ishmael is swabbing the wheel house (or something...) with Dorian Grey. Ishmael remarks that they haven’t found Skinner yet, and he’s probably fled the ship, the bastard. Grey laughs and reveals himself as the traitor then shoots Ishmael and runs off.
Outside the sub the remaining league members gather, including Tom Sawyer and the so far completely useless Dr. Jekyll. Ishmael staggers out and reveals Grey’s treachery before unceremoniously dying.
Grey steals the Nautaloid, a small single person sub from the side of the big sub and makes his escape. With Nemo and the others in hot pursuit. I have no idea how they managed to turn a sub as large as The Love Boat in the canals of Venice, maybe Nemo also had a Sykorski Industrial Lifting Helicopter stored in his vessel, or maybe the sub had legs tucked beneath it...
At any rate they leave Venice in pursuit of the Nautaloid.
Grey contacts them via a record album, which in the only interesting scene in the entire movie, switches between the confused and angry League and a grainy black and white film of M and Grey recording the message.
It’s cool because it’s a novel solution to the communication problem. However, since the film has already ignored the developmental history of so many modern inventions it seems unnecessary. If no one notices a giant sub, a car, machine guns, and tanks, then why not just stick a radio in the damn sub and be done with it?
The message says that M now has all the things that make the League so important, a sliver of Invisible skin, a chemical from Jekyll's potion box, Mina’s vampire blood, Nemo’s sub plans, and Allan Quatermain’s Viagra and Geritol prescriptions.
Oh, and there’s a bomb aboard ship.
KABOOM! The bomb explodes and the Nautilus begins to sink. The aft hatch has already automatically closed and several nameless men are trapped inside. Hyde pleads with Jekyll to release him so he can help the men so Jekyll downs a vial of his serum.
Wait a minute... Jekyll said earlier he couldn’t transform because one of his chemicals was stolen, that’s why he didn’t help during the battle in Bizarro Venice. Oh well, why sweat the details anymore right?
Hyde leaps into the flooding hatch and swims to the bottom. It was nice of Nemo to install enough lights to make visibility perfect too. Hyde then pulls a couple of levers and releases the flooded hold.
The Nautilus leaps back to the surface and repairs commence.
During this interval the League receives a Morse code communication from Skinner. He’d stowed away on the Nautaloid and will lead the League to M’s secret lair somewhere in the vast frozen lakes of Mongolia.
Let me say that again, “the vast frozen lakes of Mongolia”.
MONGOLIA IS A LANDLOCKED COUNTRY WITH NO VAST FROZEN LAKES! According to the CIA World Fact book Mongolia only contains 9600 kilometers of waterway, and that’s within a country some 1.5 MILLION square kilometers. Mongolia’s geography consists almost exclusively of vast grassy plains, and the Gobi Desert!
In this film Mongolia is a frozen wasteland surrounded by snow capped peaks.
The Nautilus rises through the... um... ice... and the League debarks into the snowy peaks overlooking M’s vast castle/weapon’s factory to wait for Skinner.
Skinner arrives and they separate to attack different parts of the facility. Hyde, Skinner, and Nemo will destroy the weapons floor, Quatermain and Sawyer will apprehend M, Mina will find Dorian Grey.
Okay, they all go their separate ways.
Meanwhile Dorian and M discuss current employment contracts. Since Grey has performed his part of the plot M agrees to return the painting that is the source of his immortality. His job done, Grey prepares to leave.
Nemo, Skinner, and Hyde lead Nemo’s sailors in a frontal assault and take the weapon’s floor. In the confusion one of M’s soldiers drinks a whole massive flagon of the Hyde serum.
The soldier becomes an even more massive manifestation of human evil than Hyde.
Meanwhile Sawyer and Quatermain are running through the castle when Sawyer slams into who he thinks is Skinner. Sadly it is another invisible man, created... er... somehow... because of the invisible skin that Grey procured. He holds a knife to Sawyer’s throat.
In another part of the castle Mina appears in Grey’s room. They stab and slash at one another and come to the conclusion that it will do no good since they are both essentially immortal. Since it’s already been established that Mina bleeds when cut, she of course, doesn’t bleed at all as Grey slashes her face and breasts.
In what can only be called a lapse of mental faculties of truly majestic proportions, he stabs her and thinks she’s dead. Didn’t he just watch all her bloodless slashes heal? Isn’t he infinitely familiar with her vampiric background? Well, he must’ve forgotten, because in a moment of extreme stupidity turns his back on her. She, of course, rises up and pins Grey to the wall then reveals his picture thus breaking the spell that keeps him invulnerable and immortal and he dies.
Sawyer is rescued by the fake Skinner by the real Skinner and just when everything looks rosy and nice, one of the soldiers dressed in M’s armor (which look almost exactly like Monty Python’s Black Knight) and wielding a flame thrower chases the two into a small storage room. Skinner is able to pierce the flamethrower’s fuel tank but is horribly burned.
Sawyer escapes as the soldier explodes.
Quatermain corners M, and M again reveals his nefarious plan. Again we get another confusing fight sequence as Quatermain’s and M’s stuntmen have at one another.
Cut back to Hyde and Nemo fighting the monster soldier. Hyde is being soundly thrashed but he knows that although the formula gives the soldier strength even greater than his, it will last significantly less time.
The all CG fight sequences are okay, but we’ve seen them all before in Blade and Blade 2, to Spiderman, Daredevil, and Hulk. I, and the audience, reacted with yawns.
Sawyer shows up just as M seems to have the drop on Quatermain, but the fake Skinner is there and captures him. Quatermain shots the fake Skinner in the head but is himself shot in the back as M leaps out onto the ice and runs away.
Sawyer waits for M to get about a thousand yards away then shoots him in the back.
The castle explodes. The monster soldiers is squished as Hyde and Nemo escape.
Everyone runs (who can run) back to the sub.
Cut to Kenya (ugh... not again... didn’t we have this discussion earlier) and Allan Quatermain’s grave. They all make annoying proclamations of his heroism and remind the audience that a medicine man told him that Africa would not let Quatermain die. This is all inter cut with a shaman dancing around a fire.
As the remaining League members turn away the Quatermain grave begins to rumble.
Fade to black, roll credits.
I sat there in the darkness and watched the list of names roll up the screen. A feeling of relief mixed with deep anger and melancholy. Why was this film made? Who green lighted this? How on Earth could a studio head at 20th Century Fox see the dailies from this and not pull the plug? This film is so relentlessly goddamn awful, so devoid of substance, so insulting to the audience and to the greater world, that it can leave the audience with little more than furious anger at having 110 minutes of their lives maliciously stolen.
Historical inaccuracy isn’t the only thing wrong with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the acting is awful, a special nod to Sean Connery who’ll probably need a series of enemas to release the remains of all the chewed scenery. I didn’t believe anyone in this film was a literary character, interested in the plot, or even human for that matter. I’ve seen better acted cartoons.
Characters only speak of the plot and never even once engage in a second of interesting banter.
The visuals range from Playstation 2 to Atari 2600 with Edward Hyde winning the coveted “Worst CGI People Seen in a Live Action Movie Since Homer Simpson Bought his Erotic Cake from the Third Dimension Award.” Clearly his design was modeled on the Charles Ogle Frankenstein of Edison studios (circa 1910), of which only a few frames remain, yet I was still annoyed by his out of proportion proportions.
This is the sort of movie that no one in their right mind can possibly enjoy. Every attempt to engage your suspension of disbelief is met with another in an increasingly long list of things or events that literally tear that suspension away.
Gristle McThornbody described this movie accurately as “malicious towards the audience” and “almost as if Stephen Norrington hates you and wants to tell you over and over again for 110 minutes.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Compared to cinematic miscalculations like Plan 9 from Outer Space, Battlefield Earth, and Megaforce, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fails to even fall into the so bad it’s good vibe so present in bad cinema. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is unrepentant in its awfulness, unflinching in its anger, and woefully unaware of its shortcomings.
There were a whole host of stories of on the set battles between Stephen Norrington and Sean Connery over elements of this film, and I can only hope that it was their animosity that doomed this film and not the particular talents of either man, because no one should carry the weight of this monstrosity on their shoulders alone.
Don’t see this... Don’t even watch it on TV, yes, it’s that goddamn bad.