Comic Book Movies 101: The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

It’s 1899 and an alternative and much more advanced Victorian era to that of our own history. ‘The Fantom’ is trying to start a World War by committing a series of heinous crimes and planting false evidence at the scenes blaming alternate nations. The job of trying to prevent this huge catastrophe is placed at the feet of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The League is made up of six of the greatest fighters, scientists and hunters around. The League has been recruited by ‘M’ and is being headed up by fearless hunter, Allan Quartermain. He will be leading intrepid pirate, Captain Nemo, scientist come vampire Mina Harker, The Invisible Man Rodney Skinner, mild mannered Dr Henry Jekyll and his fearsome alter ego Edward Hyde and the beguiling Dorian Gray. The League is joined by tearaway, Tom Sawyer who is on his own mission to stop The Fantom.

The League in the film is slightly different to that in the comic book in that, originally Mina Harker’s vampyric tendencies were never fully explored and only alluded to by the markings on her neck that she often kept covered with a scarf. The incredible scientist was also, the head of The League, not Quartermain, and responsible for recruiting the other members. Another change in the film is the addition of Tom Sawyer to the League. He never featured in the graphic novel and was added to the film later as the studio was worried the American audience wouldn’t embrace the film without an American character and cast member.

In my opinion, they needn’t have worried; in fact they needn’t have bothered at all. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen may by extraordinary by name but it is anything but by nature. The comic book provides an impressive basis for a Hollywood blockbuster and has a ridiculous amount of potential yet this film manages to side step all this and is simply a pretty good kid’s film.

All the action sequences and visual effects have a cartoony feel that just doesn’t lend itself to the moody, dark visuals that swirl throughout the rest of the film. Was this intentional to get a lower age rating and appeal to a wider family market? Or have they just not committed to it in the same way a superhero movie may have? I don’t know, but either way it’s disappointing.

I really wanted this film to be as good as it possibly could be, with so much story potential and a brilliant cast it could have and should have been incredible… however, it’s not. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, because it definitely isn’t. Trust me, I’ve seen my fair share (and probably most of yours too) of bad movies to know! It just isn’t one I’d ever suggest you absolutely had to see. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s good… as a children’s film and I’d suggest its 12 rating is a little on the high side. If the studio had aimed this at a slightly older audience and gone for a 15 rating, I believe this could have been a much stronger film.

The superb selection of characters, the brilliant casting and the inclusion of the incredible Sean Connery can’t even save this film and should be resigned to the “if there’s nothing better on the TV on a bank holiday” section of your viewing schedule.

Laura Johnson

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