|The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Starring: Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Naseeruddin Shah, Jason Flemyng, Peta, Wilson
Director: Stephen Norrington
In 1999, comic writer Alan Moore created a concept in which 19th Century literary figures joined forces to form a team with superhero-like tendencies. It may be the most original idea in comic book history, but the film variation ultimately just doesn't live up to the expectations set by the graphic novel.
It's 1899 and Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) has been selected by the British government to lead a league of other extraordinary men against a man who calls himself the Phantom, a mysterious villain pitting all the countries against one another in an attempt to ignite a world war. In three days, the world's political leaders are to meet in Venice to decide on a course of action, and Quartermain's team must be there to stop any interference from the Phantom. The other members assembled for the team are as follows: Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah); Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), a scientist-vampire hunter who was bitten by Dracula; Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), a thief who stole the Invisible Man's secrets; Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend); US Secret Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West); and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng).
"The League" is very much like "X-Men," but I really enjoy Moore's concept of using literary figures because it often is easier to relate to these characters and it's also exciting to consider these guys as "superheroes." Unfortunately, there are a lot of little problems throughout the film which, on the surface, appear to be more significant than they actually are. There are rumors that, due to the script's unnecessary betrayal of the original material, Connery and director Stephen Norrington frequently butted heads, which is unfortunate because filming this adaptation should have been as simple as baking cookies from a recipe you have right in front of you. "The League" comic is brilliantly written and depicts each scene perfectly on every page, seemingly making it an easy-to-follow blueprint for any filmmaker to work from. And still, Norrington's aim was off.
Like many of the films this summer, "The League" just lost sight of its incredible potential. Connery seems bored with Quartermain, and it is the unknown actors like Shah and Flemyng that create more memorable characters. While "The League" may seem silly to a lot of people, especially with concepts like convertible automobiles and automatic weapons in the late 1800s, it's the originality of the comic and its fantasy-based roots that allow for such things to occur. This one isn't for everyone, but it's still good in my book.