Main cast: Sean Connery (Allan Quatermain), Naseeruddin Shah (Captain Nemo), Peta Wilson (Wilhelmina Harker), Tony Curran (Rodney Skinner/The Invisible Man), Stuart Townsend (Dorian Gray), Shane West (Tom Sawyer), Jason Flemyng (Dr Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde), Tom Goodman-Hill (Sanderson Reed), and Richard Roxburgh (M)
Director: Stephen Norrington
The original illustrated novel on which this movie is based on may be good (or not), but the movie is a huge stultifyingly boring mess of bad acting, horridly clumsy lines, ineptly filmed action scenes, and enough brain-poisoning stupidity ever since someone thought it was a great idea to make Mortal Kombat II.
Blaspheming eight classic novels in one expulsion of intestinal gas, this movie tells of Allan Quatermain (King Solomon’s Mines) meeting British officials that speak in overly bloated arching way. It’s 1889. He ends up being recruited by England to smash the plot of an evil Fantom. This Fantom is doing things like stealing gold and more and instigating a potential war between European countries while he’s at it. As M, the Boss, says, it takes a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to stop the Fantom. And so comes the cast that makes the Superfriends come off like a bunch of Noble Prize-winning strategists.
There’s Tom Sawyer, now an American spy in need of some Daddy guiding from Hairy O Quatermain here. After watching Shane West trying to do that “bouncy dashing American lad” act for five seconds, I am ready to impale myself on Mina Harker’s fangs. Mina is from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you know, Jonathan Harker’s wife and all? She’s now a vampiress who had a fling once with Dorian Gray. Yup, Oscar Wilde will be amazed to know that Dorian Gray is not just magically connected with a portrait, Dorian is now an immortal as long as he doesn’t see his portrait! Then there’s the Invisible Man, who, thankfully, is invisible – literally – for most of the movie. Jules Verne will be surprised to learn that the enigmatic Captain Nemo is now Apu the Subservient Gurkha Sidekick of Quatermain. How insulting. Rounding up the cast is Dr Jekyll, who, after drinking some potion, turns into Austin Powers’s Fat Bastard. I’m not kidding. Only Fat Bastard is now called Mr Hyde to avoid copyright infringement.
This movie has no plot. It seems to be based on a reject Power Rangers script. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn’t a team as much as each person just waiting in the background until their one single scene to shine comes on. Which means, basically, the gang gets into all sorts of troubles, each trouble conveniently tailor-made so that one of the gang will be able to get them out of it just like that – voila! I think an episode of Superfriends make more sense than the entire movie.
The only memorable characters are Dorian Gray, played like a poor man’s Johnny Depp by Stuart Townsend, and Peta Wilson’s Mina, the latter if only because of her relationship with Dorian. Everyone else rarely rise above being a one-dimensional action figure. From the silly start all the way to the moronic ending where the villain just has to wear black as he flees down an icy terrain, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is only extraordinary in how plain horrible it is to watch.