Friday, July 18, 2003

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Directed by Stephen Norrington
Starring Sean Connery, Shane West, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend, Richard Roxburgh, Jason Flemyng, Tony Curran, David Hemmings
I was expecting this movie to be really horrible, like The Avengers or Pluto Nash. The trailers had that kind of horrible, overproduced, drastically re-written vibe to them. Instead, the movie is merely on the weak side of average. The actors walk through every scene as if they’d rather be somewhere else, and all the stuff that was cool about the original graphic novel is leached away into formula.
Sean Connery does a lot of punching and has more hair than usual, and gives the usual perfunctory resistance to going on One Last Mission. Fortunately for him he dies at the end of the movie so he doesn’t have to be in the sequel. I’m sure Oscar Wilde would be surprised to see Dorian Gray turned into an indestructible action figure: Superfop. Shane West as Tom Sawyer feels arbitrarily inserted into the movie in order to fulfill demographic needs, disconnected from any kind of plot necessity or thematic consistency.
Technically there were a lot of weird problems. There were huge differences between when the Invisible Man was just an actor wearing white makeup with stubble and when he was “invisible” and no longer had white stuff on his neck and so on. Really shoddy. They probably shot the Nautilus stuff at the Fox studios in Mexico where they shot Titanic, which makes sense for a movie about a boat staying in one place but not for one about a boat going incredibly fast. And otherwise the movie takes place on identical Prague locations standing in for London, Paris, and Venice at various times, but all looking gray and boring (although a welcome change from the hyperkinetic colors of Charlie’s Angels etc.)
The other obviously crappy thing about this movie is the bizarre shift as the bad guy goes from badly designed scarred supervillain to de-moustached Richard Roxburgh. Was this really a radical last-act reshoot, making this character the bad guy in disguise? Wow. Pretty ballsy.
The ending scene, where a shaman chants over Quatermain’s grave and an earthquake happens, or something, was fairly bewildering.

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