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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The concept behind The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with the atrocious acronym LXG) is that the world's greatest fictional heroes team up to save the world. It's a fascinating concept rife with possibilities first brought to life in the world of comic books by Alan Moore (who also wrote From Hell) and Kevin O'Neill. The mini-series was a critical success, dark and literary. The film adaptation, by James Dale Robinson (Comic Book Villains, Cyber Bandits), himself a respected comic writer, is nothing more than a big excuse for special effects. It has a highly schizophrenic feel to it, possibly due to reported conflicts between director Stephen Norrington (The Last Minute, Blade) and star Sean Connery (Finding Forrester, Entrapment).

It's 1899, a somebody calling himself the Phantom is trying to incite a world war. M (Richard Roxburgh, The Touch, Moulin Rouge) calls together the greatest heroes of the day to try to find and stop the Phantom. They are Allan Quartermain (Connery), vampire Mina Harker (Peta Wilson, Mercy, Loser), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah, Monsoon Wedding, Kasam), Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend, Trapped, Queen of the Damned), Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng, Below, Mean Machine) and Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran, Blade II, Pearl Harbor), an Invisible Man. He's 'an' invisible man because it was not clear if the Invisible Man was yet available for public use. Agent Sawyer (Shane West, A Walk to Remember, Get Over It) also appears from the United States to help out Her Majesty's mission.

There is a lot of action and special effects, but very little happens and the story feels nonsensical at times. Quartermain and company seem to quickly ascertain where they need to go. There is no mystery or anticipation, just big scenes with lots of explosions. This is a movie for people who have no desire to think, which is strange since the source material is so much more thoughtful. Instead of adding depth to the characters, Robinson and Norrington blow something up. For a large chunk of time the movie is stuck on Nemo's Nautilus, traveling from location to location. The most ridiculous sequence takes place in Venice, with the enormous Nautilus somehow making it through narrow canals.

Amongst all the actors, Quartermain is the only person with any discernible personality. And Connery is only playing a variation on the same character he seems to gravitate towards. Think of it as a mix between James Bond and Indy's dad. Sure the introductions to everybody are fun, but beyond that, there is nothing. The Sawyer character feels badly out of place (he was added for the film), and the subplot involving a father/son-like relationship between him and Quartermain falls flat. With all these things going against it, LXG still manages to avoid complete tedium because it is a big popcorn movie. Yes it's dumb, but it moves relatively quickly, and there are tons of people with crazy powers doing crazy things. That is barely enough.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 51 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence, language and innuendo.

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