Thursday, January 08, 2004

Movie review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I rented this movie recently and enjoyed it very much. I'd read Vol.1 of the comics one summer afternoon last year and thought it was a fun idea executed disappointingly. I love the silly premise: a Victorian league of superheroes (Allan Quartermain, Jeckyll/Hyde, the Invisible Man, Minna Harker from Dracula, and Captain Nemo) brought together for adventure in a sort of alternate universe where there are fantastic spikes of modern technology mixed into the Victorian era, all of which makes sense because it's a mixture not of history but of old action/sf/fantasy novels in which this kind of stuff was dreamed up. Critics jumped on the film, but I think it's fun. At first I groaned at the addition of even more characters--Dorian Gray and, the one who seemed at first the biggest break with logic--Tom Sawyer. But after a while I realized how Sawyer fits in, and it actually helps give the story a more focussed, satisfying shape: British adventurer Allan Quartermain takes young American adventurer Sawyer under his wing, father-like, with obvious yet almost profound symbolism. (And before you cry "Imperialism!" I assure you it's actually the opposite, as you'd see if you gave it a chance.) The acting is a little dodgy in places, but Sean Connery shines as Quartermain. It reminded me of his turn as Indiana Jones' father (which I just watched again--well, you've seen the ads, you know it's out on DVD), and this just cemented my admiration for Connery. He's spoofed constantly, but he's just perfect in this kind of stuff--compare his acting to Harrison Ford's recent work. Yuck. LXG's pace is excellent; it keeps you entertained, if often laughing at its excesses--but that's the way comics should be. (Why have superhero films gotten so pretentious and serious?) That LXG bombed at the box office is a shame, because I got the sense that, as with X-Men, they'd have expanded and improved in a sequel. Too bad it's too expensive for tv. If the premise appeals to you, you could do much worse. Silly, guiltless fun.



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