Not such an Extraordinary League
Having originated from a comic book "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is actually not a bad idea for a movie. A plethora of well known legendary names from the 19th century all with some unique ability and a cast with more than a few recognizable names should be the makings of a good action/thriller cum super hero movie. I say should be because what you end up getting is a wasted idea spoilt by a lack lustre storyline and limited imagination making "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" very much a run of the mill, slightly disappointing action romp.
In 1899 a mysterious figure known as "The Fantom" is trying to start a world war so he can profit by selling his advanced weaponry to the warring countries. The job of tracking him down and stopping his evil plans is given to Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery - Entrapment) along with a group of other talented individuals including Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), The Invisible Man (Tony Curran) and Dr Jekyll (Jason Flemyng) amongst others. But the closer they get to tracking him down the more they understand that there is more to this than meets the eye.
The problem with "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is not in that the actual idea for the movie is a bad one, the concept of all these legendary figures joining forces is in deed quite clever even creative, it's just that the storyline lacks that creativity ending up feeling unoriginal. The storyline is pretty run of the mill which sees these heroes pitted against some villain known as "The Fantom" and they have to stop his devilish plans. It has to be said, and often is, that there is a certain amount of irony to this as it is a stereotypical Bond storyline and so having Connery lead the movie as Allan Quatermain is more than a little ironic.
It wouldn't be so bad if they managed to inject something fresh into this tired formula but no, it is plain sailing, paint it by numbers once the movie gets past the introductions and the hunt for "The Fantom" commences. Even the few twists which are added to try and surprise you are pretty lousy even if some of them are unexpected. There is no thrill, no intrigue, no tension to grip you as this band of hero's battle on.
What also spoils "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is that it plainly isn't exciting enough. There is nothing to get the adrenalin going even with a few highly choreographed fight sequences; it's all a bit too old school which when compared to the fantastic action scenes in other super hero cum action movies makes it look like a relic. Yes, maybe the intention was to try and make it realistic, being set in the 19th century but at its heart it is a fantasy movie but lacks being fantastical.
The excitement issues are compounded by some misguided choices of special effects that fail to achieve the wow factor. Yes the outside of Nemo's Nortulous is quite impressive but you rarely get to see it, instead we get the obvious effects to create the invisible man, the sort of thing which has been done for years. But the worst is the decision to turn Mr Hyde, Dr. Jekyll's alter ego into a cross between the Hulk and Hellboy and in doing so use a lot of blur to disguise the limited budget when it came to the effects. It all feels very so so, as if they didn't want to go big effects because it would not fit in with the era but in doing so didn't deliver the punch the movie needed.
All these things cause "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" to feel very unexciting, failing to deliver the adrenalin, the thrill of the chase which is what it should be trying to deliver. But then it doesn't help that with so many characters, legendary names from a forgotten era that we never really get to know them, something which for anyone who has never heard of the likes of Captain Nemo, Mina Harker or even Allan Quatermain will surely struggle with. The back stories to each of the characters are scarce even for Quatermain the central figure making it hard to comprehend who they are. It's so bad that it takes half the movie before you realise that the young American who hangs with Quatermain is in fact Tom Sawyer.
Acting wise well Connery piles on the Connery charm and is such a powerful actor that the rest of the stars and characters end up for the most in the shadow, which is what you get a feeling the idea was. Pay big money for Connery to lead the movie and then get recognizable but not such big stars to fill in the other roles. It's not like these other stars have nothing to do, in time honoured tradition each of the characters has a specific task, a way to demonstrate there amazing ability but that's it, there is no character development and no one steals the lime light from Connery. So we end up having the likes of Stuart Townsend, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh and Peta Wilson all becoming supporting actors in a movie where there figures should have been more central. It's so one sided that in some ways the movie should have been called "Quatermain's League of Extraordinary Gentleman".
What this all boils down to is that "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" has all the makings for a great movie, a cast of stars, a plethora of legendary characters and with it being set in a bygone era should delivery some intrigue. But because of the unoriginal storyline, the mediocre special effects and a storyline which feels completely one sided it fails to deliver the thrill, mystery and adrenalin that is looks like it should. Basically it's an average action movie, inferior in comparison to many other action movies featuring legendary action heroes.