Based on the acclaimed comic book by the same name, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen promises to be an impressive combination of literary smarts and digital effects magic. Unfortunately, it fails on both counts. While not being an unpleasant film, there are far better films out there to keep a person entertained for two hours.
The premise is brilliant: characters from Victorian literature exist in real life and must join together to battle an enemy that threatens to destroy turn-of-the-century Europe. Legendary adventurer Allan Quatermain, (an Indiana Jones of sorts) is called upon to lead the group which includes: an Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo and vampiress Mina Harker. Naturally, the members despise and distrust each other, but are eventually convinced to work together.
Their first stop is Venice where European leaders are meeting with evil doer, The Phantom to bid on his new weapon technology. But the year is 1899, how are the travelers to make it from England to Italy in only three days? In the Nautilus, of course. Described as "the sword of the sea," and clearly the recipient of the bulk of the effects budget, the Nautilus is a little underwhelming. The shape of the vessel doesn't seem logical and the size doesn't seem consistent throughout the film.
The confusion doesn't end there...
It doesn't make any sense for Quartermain would be the leader. He has no rapport with the other characters, and no extraordinary power. Ah, but Sean Connery plays Quartermain and happens to be the executive producer, so I guess that's his special power.
Directed by Stephen Norrington (Blade), who came into his directorship via special effects work, it is not unreasonable to expect some big special-effect "Wows" in this film. Unfortunately, those "wow moments" never arrive and there's nothing to distract the audience from a weak plot. In the case of LXG, the film fails to expand upon the idea set forth in the comic. No ideas or twists are presented that a well-read smart group of middle schoolers couldn't come up with on their own.
Combine all of the above with a lack of chemistry between the cast and you've got a movie that can't compete. League might have been able to save itself if it had a smarter script and could be positioned as "the thinking person's action film" to differentiate it from the stiff action movie competition of T3, Charlie's Angels, and The Hulk. Alas, the filmmakers chose to low ball what could have been a smart, well-conceived movie.
-Megan A. Denny