Monday, March 20, 2006

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I noticed there is a woman in the League. Shouldn't the title be "The League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons"? I'll have to check with Miss Manners, one of my personal heroes. But I guess that title didn't pack the same kind of punch. I read that the promotional title for this movie was "LXG" which reminded me of X-men. I get chills thinking about X-3. Anyway, we'll use the shortened title for simplicity.

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie, way back when. It seemed mildly interesting with the different famous literary characters all banded together. The movie is about a group of folks with special powers or abilities brought to fight an archenemy who is trying to start a world war. While watching the movie I polled my inner pre-teen and teen kids and asked them if they knew any of these people. They'd heard of Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but these other dudes? No way. Dorian Gray? I know Dorian Gray because in a fit of needing to know I read the novel. It was creepy and Dorian was vain. But he was no crimefighter. He was a murderer! He didn't get old because the portrait in the attic absorbed all his vanity and evil for him. I certainly didn't see how he'd be selected for the LXG. My inner kids liked the movie because things got blown up (like Venice) and the cool car but they didn't know Captain Nemo or Mina, our vampiress or especially our lead, Sean Connery, as Allan Quartermain. That hurt the story for me because I needed a good point of reference as to why these people were brought together. Allan was an old dude rotting at an imperialistic British club in Africa. Why him? No one else in the United Kingdom was as good a shot?

I did like Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray. His vain behavior (I spotted him plucking his eyebrows) and fussiness rang true for the character. I also enjoyed Jason Flemyng as Jekyll and Hyde. I was amazed to find out he played both characters. While the prosthetic arms were ridiculously plastic looking his pointy head mask provided a phenomenal change. I didn't recognize him. I found sympathy with Mr. Hyde. I had to laugh a couple of times at our Captain Nemo friend. He was so earnest yet makeup gave him this footlong beard that stuck straight out from his chin, masking almost his entire face. Nemo should have had a good Omar Sharif goatee not this silly square shaped beard.

For kicks I checked out the special features. Watching every deleted scene didn't really add anything. The special effects segment, however, explained quite a lot. For example, I learned they filmed in Prague where they built a large scale model of Venice. While I was glad the good people of Prague were able to earn the $3 million bucks it took to build the city the result was less than authentic looking. And during the movie I thought the destruction of Venice was curious. It seemed gratuitous because the result is that the bad guys get away and nothing is resolved. Our friend Tom Sawyer drives that ridiculous boat of a car to target the building which will end the explosions - boom. So...I breathe a huge sigh of relief because only a dozen buildings (with people inside) were destroyed? That was a little difficult to swallow, aside from the fact that it looked so fake.

A particularly funny moment occurs when Allan Quartermain and Tom Sawyer are recruiting Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Hyde is leaping around rooftops in Paris and they catch him by causing him to slide off the roof tiles. Tom picks up Hyde's enormous top hat looking at it in amazement. I laughed because his clothes are in tatters (except the pants) from his transformation into the monster yet his hat grew several sizes larger? We never see the big hat again in the film.

If you see your hand reaching out for this dvd, snatch it back.

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