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Old July 15th 03, 14:02   #1
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I saw LXG twice this past weekend, and enjoyed it immensely. I never did read the comic book, which I hear only had 13 issues, but the story really intrigued me. A group of 19th-century literary figures joining together to fight crime, when even some of its own members have, shall we say, checkered pasts...

Firstly, don't expect the characters in this movie to exactly fit what was written of them in the 19th century novels. Certain features of each character and/or their stories have been tweaked a bit, but nothing has radically changed.

Set in the summer of 1899, we're introduced to a tension-filled Europe. Wars up to this point have been fought pretty much the same way for centuries; but with the coming industrial revolution, all that will soon change. Relations between countries are on a razor's edge, and many believe some kind of war to be imminent. A madman who calls himself "The Fantom" wreaks havoc with technology no one has ever seen before, such as tanks, rockets, and machine guns.

Very 19th century. Incredible attention was paid to detail in this movie, from the multitudes of books, records, and historical knick-knacks of Dorian Grey's study to the silver-accented alabaster opulence of Captain Nemo's gigantic Nautilus. An entire warehouse in Prague was used to create the interior rooms of the Nautilus. In July of last year, Prague suffered the worst flooding the city has seen in almost 1000 years of its recorded history. The floods basically destroyed the Nautilus sets (ironic, that), and filming was put on hold for 2 weeks while sets were reconstructed after the flood waters receded.


Allan Quartermain (Sean Connery) -- A Hunter
A mercenary adventurer with the deadliest aim in the world, Quartermain is renowned across the world for his discovery of King Solomon's Mines, as well as his penchant for shooting large rifles. According to legend, Quartermain was indestructible, although this is clearly not a notion that Connery's Quartermain holds dear. Quartermain is in his late 60s or early 70s, feeling his years, and has lost friends & family along the way. At this point he has taken up residence in Kenya for his retirement.

Connery (notice nobody ever calls him Sean? ) plays this role well. Quartermain is sarcastic, somewhat big-headed, yet humbled by his age a bit, and definitely a father-figure role to young Sawyer. He can also shoot a flea off a dog's back at 900 yards, but his age requires him to wear glasses. At one point he says, "I hate getting old..." He has several notable scenes with Shane West

Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) -- A Vampire
Mina was once Mina Murray (her name in the comic book), an assistant schoolmistress married to the young and prosperous bank clerk Jonathan Harker. One fateful business trip, Harker set off to Transylvania to finalize the purchase of British property by one Count Dracula. When Dracula arrived in London a short time later, he began a reign of nighttime terrors. Mina teamed up with Dr. Van Helsing to destroy the vampire, but not before he managed to sink his teeth into her.

Because she was not fully turned, Mina has been able to repress her vampiristic urges, and can withstand sunlight. She possesses the abilities of a vampire to change form, particularly as a swarm of bats. When enraged, her vampire side surfaces. Mina is the most reluctant member of the League, since she is somewhat embarrassed by her condition, and does her best to maintain her composure at all times.

Now I'm the first to admit I'm an absolutely crazy-go-nuts Peta Wilson fan -- La Femme Nikita in my mind was one of the best TV series to date. Peta didn't have a single bad line in this movie, and the sequel should be called LXG II: Mina Harker Kicks Everyone's Ass. That's how badass her character is in this movie. Yet, when she isn't kicking butt, she is a quiet, proper, dignified woman who exudes a bit more than a hint of sensuality. Mina's character has met Dorian Gray in the past, and apparently had a fling with him... most likely before her marriage to Harker.

In the comic book, Mina was the leader of the League. Peta talked about the leadership role change in an interview:

"The thing is, to make a film like that, you need a big leading man. Even the biggest movie stars that are women, like Julia Roberts, make a studio nervous. In the '40s, it was a leading woman and the man was the handbag. But it changed, and now, it's about the man. If we go on for sequels, then maybe there'd be that opportunity, where Mina gets to be in charge of something, but it didn't bother me. She was very powerful, anyway. She was the woman, and the demon that lives inside of her is so much uglier than all of [the men's] though Mr. Hyde is pretty rough."
Agent Thomas Sawyer (Shane West) -- A Spy
The movie does not go out of its way to explain that this is, in fact, the Tom Sawyer we've all read about. In fact, I don't recall his first name ever being said in the movie, but it's him. Subtle hints prove who he is. Sawyer was never a member of the League in the comic books, but was put in the movie as a tie to American audiences who may or may not have heard of all the European figures.

A member of the newly-formed United States Secret Service, Sawyer has been sent to England to monitor the political relations over there and report his observations back to the US. Sawyer is hot on the trail of The Fantom when he joins up with the League.

Shane's Sawyer plays the son-figure to Connery's father-figure. Sawyer reminds Quartermain much of his own son, who was killed on Quartermain's last adventure and died in his father's arms.

Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) -- An Immortal
Dorian Gray's legend was written in the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Dorian was a young, vain aristocrat who had a protrait painted of himself when he was young. Fearing his own mortality, he idly wished that the painting would age instead of him, making him forever young. Through some dark occult mechanism, the wish came true.

Many men have grown old seeking the fountain of youth, but Dorian found it as if by accident. He lives outside of time, without fear of sickness, aging, or death. He lives an eternity of exploring the rewards of youth and beauty without repercussions... but as the years drag on, his crimes pile up, and he starts to feel that immortality is more of a curse than a blessing.

Joining the League would give Dorian a chance to start to atone for his past; to face his demons and become a good man again.

Dorian has one of the best lines in the movie... shortly after a thug empties his machine gun into Gray, Gray just smirks and stabs him with his sword. The thug cries, "what are you??" to which Dorian replies, "I'm complicated."

Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran) -- An Invisible Man
While not the original Invisible Man, Rodney Skinner is a thief who stole the invisibility serum from that man, who had created it. The original Invisible Man was killed by an angry mob. Skinner plans to use the serum to become the greatest thief in history... that is, until he realizes the curse of the serum. It's irreversible.

Skinner joins the League because he is promised a cure to his invisibility. The question is, will he help, or just look out for himself?

Definitely the best "invisible man" we've ever seen on any screen. He uses white makeup to cover his face and wears a hat w/ a trench coat when in the company of others, but tends to walk around with no clothes at all when he feels like it. Only Quartermain's sense of hearing & smell can tell when Skinner is in the room.

Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah) -- A Scientist
While everyone knows Nemo from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," most have the idea that he was a crazed lunatic. While that may be true in that novel, in LXG he is portrayed as a freedom fighter... not just for his own native India, but against all war itself. This is the reason he joins the League; to stop the impending world war that everyone feels is coming.

Shah is a virtual unknown in this country, but he brings to the role of Nemo a level of sophistication that's really pretty cool to watch. Nemo is an expert martial artist and swordsman in this movie, and never fires a bullet. Nemo's fighting scenes are fun to watch. His inventions are way ahead of their time, as in 20,000 Leagues. His car is a bit of a stretch, but it sure makes for some fun scenes. The Nautilus was beautifully done, and fits Nemo's character perfectly... decorated, regal, refined, but not to be underestimated.

Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde (Jason Flemyng) -- A Beast
Everybody knows the story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde... if you don't, go read it.

This character brings a differnt kind of addition to the League. Jekyll, a mild-mannered, shy scientist, has almost allowed Mr. Hyde's persona, his own repressed emotions and dark side, to win him over. Jekyll is afraid of what might happen if Hyde is released, yet he is constantly intimidated by Hyde, whom he can now hear in his head.

At this point in history, Jekyll's alter ego has committed so many crimes in England, that he has banished himself to Paris. The League tries to recruit Jekyll/Hyde, offering in return a safe haven back in his home country.

The amazing thing about the Hyde character is that he's not just a brute, but very intelligent, too. Very few scenes of Mr. Hyde were done with CGI, which you also don't see much anymore. Instead, Flemyng wore a 45lb prosthetic suit with mechanized arms & hands.

If Lord of the Rings CGI gets a 10, I'll give the CGI in LXG a solid 6 or 7. It's obvious that some corners were cut, and a couple CGI scenes were downright bad, but the CGI's strength lies in the recreation and attention to detail in creating a replica of downtown London in the year 1899. Buildings from the period that are still in existence today were used as foregrounds, while the backgrounds were created in CGI and dropped seamlessly into the shot. Beautifully done.

Very little CGI was used in the transformations of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Again, most of it was done with prosthetics, with some CGI effects to segue between the various stages of transformation. It did look as torturously painful and traumatic as the book makes it sound, so at least they pulled that part off. If there's a sequel, I hope they budget more money toward CGI for the transformations.

The CGI of the Nautilus was some of the best in the movie, as well. You really get a scope of how big the ship is, and at one point we see the Sword of the Ocean spearing up thru the surface of the water, and it does in fact look really knife-like.

All in all, I really enjoyed LXG -- a few dialog flubs and a couple of rather corny moments aside, the movie is fun to watch and definitely a must-see for anyone who's a fan of 19th century heroes (or villains)...
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Old July 15th 03, 16:23   #2
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I plan to watch it, the premise appeals to me.

Seeing Shane West appeals to me too.
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Old July 16th 03, 08:09   #3
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Sawyer was never a member of the League in the comic books, but was put in the movie as a tie to American audiences who may or may not have heard of all the European figures.

Good grief! Do they think we're that illiterate? hmmm. Are we?

I knew who they all were, but then I went graduated high school in 1967. Do kids actually have to read books these days in school?
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Old July 16th 03, 09:34   #4
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I think they are told what a book is and are allowed to look at one...beyond that they can't do anything in casse they offend someone
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Old July 16th 03, 16:42   #5
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I thought the movie was ok, not really bad and not really good, either. I don't think I'd see it again, certainly not soon. My favorite thing in the movie was the Nautilus. I kept thinking "I want that ship! I want that ship!" and of how cool it would be to travel all over the world in that thing.
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Old July 16th 03, 17:01   #6
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

i liked it...and i didn't see the word spoilers anywhere so i will put SPOILERS:;

i hope thats enough space...OK....i didn't get the vampire chic thing..how the bats just flew... she is a bunch of bats?
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Old July 17th 03, 01:19   #7
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

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Old July 17th 03, 14:17   #8
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Re: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Yes, according to some vampire legends, vampires can take the form of a wolf, a flock of bats, or a misty fog.
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