In an alternate 1899, an attack on the Bank of England in London is committed by a group of men who appear to be German soldiers using advanced explosives and automatic weapons, and even the first ever tank. This is followed by an attack on a German Zeppelin factory in Berlin by the same men, this time dressed as British soldiers, that leads Europe to the brink of war. An emissary of the British government, Sanderson Reed (Tom Goodman-Hill), arrives in a gentlemen’s club in British East Africa hoping to recruit the legendary, but now aged, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) to investigate the situation. Though Quatermain’s sense of patriotism has waned (because of his last adventures for the Empire cost the lives of many of his friends and lovers, his two wives, and also his beloved son), he wishes to protect his beloved Africa from war and agrees, especially after his lodge is attacked and destroyed by a band of assassins.
In London, Quatermain meets with the mysterious “M” (Richard Roxburgh), who explains his plan to assemble a modern version of a group of talented individuals known as the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, which aids the world in times of need, in this case to combat the threat of the “Fantom”, who is the true mastermind of the current crisis, and ensure world peace, by stopping him from destroying Venice. Quatermain is introduced to:
- The Indian Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), Commander of the world’s only submersible vessel Nautilus
- Invisible gentleman thief Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), who works for the government in hopes of an antidote for the invisibility serum he stole
- Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), a vampire and well-regarded chemical scientist.
The group also recruits the mysterious immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) which is the point when Fantom attacks. They managed to fend off his forces with the help of American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West) who assists the team after the United States finds out about Fantom’s plot.
When it came to Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), his form of Mr. Hyde has to be hunted down all over Paris by Quatermain and Sawyer before Jekyll offers his services for reprieve in London for his crimes as Hyde.
With the team complete, the group takes off on Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, and sets off for Venice. The group worries there is a traitor in their midst when flash powder is found in the wheel room of the Nautilus, and a vial of Jekyll’s transformation serum is determined to be missing. Naturally, all think that the invisible thief, Skinner, is the culprit, but nothing can be done about it since Skinner is nowhere to be found.
Though the group reaches Venice in time, a series of bombs that have been planted under the city start to detonate shortly after, toppling buildings in a domino effect. The team decides that knocking one of the buildings out of the sequence is the only way to stop the chain of explosions. Nemo has a missile that can be fired from the Nautilus at the building in question, but only if a beacon can be set in place. Since Nemo can track his “automobile,” allowing it to serve as the beacon, Sawyer drives the car past the chain of explosions, as Gray and Mina disembark to fight the Fantom’s henchmen. Quatermain, meanwhile, notices and gives chase to the Fantom on foot. During the chase, The Fantom is unmasked and revealed to be M, who then escapes. At the same time, Sawyer crashes the car into the target building, while firing a flare, which signals Nemo to launch his missile. The building is destroyed, the chain of explosions stops, and Venice is saved.
The League regroups at the Nautilus, where Quatermain reveals that M is behind everything. Nemo’s first mate, Ishmael, also reveals that Gray, not Skinner, is the traitor, as he had been mortally shot by Gray, who escapes in an exploration pod. Nemo sets the Nautilus in pursuit, but a record is found from M and Gray, revealing that the League was a ruse so that M could steal physical elements from each of the League members, so as to construct an army of super-powered soldiers:
- Captain Nemo’s science and technology
- Jekyll’s formula
- Mina’s blood
- A sample of Skinner’s invisible skin
Quatermain was merely used to capture Hyde. M seeks to profit by starting a world war and selling armaments and weaponry based on the powers of the League to the combatant countries. As the record is played, it also releases a second, high-frequency signal which sets off three bombs in the ship, Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde in order to stop the ship from sinking.
Following a signal from Skinner, who had stowed away on Gray’s vessel before he escaped, the Nautilus follows to the Asiatic Arctic, and the League travels to a cave overlooking an industrial fortress. Skinner meets with the group (who then apologizes to him for falsely condemning him as the traitor) there, and tells them that M has a number of scientists and their families held as hostages and slaves in his munitions factory, where the new weapons are being constructed. Splitting up, the League infiltrates the factory. Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families; Sawyer and Quatermain go after M. Mina goes in search of Gray, while Skinner sets off to plant some explosives to destroy the factory.
Nemo and Hyde run into M’s second-in-command, Dante (Max Ryan), who drinks a very large dose of Jekyll’s formula and transforms into a gigantic, hulking monster to combat Hyde. Mina fights a stalemate battle with Gray; little is accomplished as they are both immortal, until she confronts him with the enchanted portrait of himself. When he sets eyes upon the painting, he ages rapidly, dies, and decays. Quatermain confronts M in his lair and reveals his deduction that M is none other than the supposedly dead Professor James Moriarty, nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. As the explosives go off, Nemo and Jekyll manage to escape the building through a small hole in the wall, while Dante, being far too large to fit, is crushed to death by falling debris. Quatermain, about to kill Moriarty, sees Sawyer being held at knifepoint and chooses to save Sawyer at the cost of being stabbed himself. Sawyer is forced to use the marksmanship skills that Quatermain had taught him, and manages to kill a fleeing Moriarty before he can leave in his stolen submersible vessel. Quatermain dies soon after, telling Sawyer that the new century belongs to him now–perhaps a prediction of the upcoming century being the “American Century”.
The League assembles in Africa to bury Quatermain. As the group departs, a tribal witch doctor (Semere-Ab Etmet Yohannes) takes handfuls of dirt from Quatermain’s grave and begins a ritual chant. We are reminded of a witch doctor’s pronouncement, recounted by Quatermain at the beginning of the movie, that Africa would not let Quatermain die. As the witch doctor does a chant, the earth shakes violently, making the rifle that Sawyer had left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes the rifle and Quatermain’s grave right before the screen cuts to black.
This has been one of those oddity weeks for my Netflix choices. In other words, they just picked random films from my list and sent them, even though my tope 3 were available. This is how I ended up with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film that has been on AMC every day for the past month. Now, I’m not complaining about getting this flick. It wasn’t on there for no reason, but I hadn’t planned on watching it this week, at least not in DVD form.
The good…the use of these literary characters as heroes is a nice concept. The action is great. THe look of the Nautilus, both inside and out, is nothing short of remarkable. Sean Connery…need I say more? THe Victorian Era costumes and sets are done very well. Sinking Venice…not that is something that deserves some kudos. Even though the entire city didn’t get sunk, its still a pretty hefty feat, even for what they did.
The bad…apparently, Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer were not characters in the comic, and were added to the film just because the filmmakers felt like it. I have no issue with Dorain Gray, but Tom Sawyer seemed a bit out of place. My guess is that they wanted to put some American literary hero in, and that’s fine and dandy. I just felt that Tom didn’t quite fit in with the rest, is all. I wasn’t too impressed with the look of Mr. Hyde (or the guy that drinks all the serum at the end). To me they seemed like some kind of hybrid between Hulk and Goro from Mortal Kombat. Not exactly a good combination. On top of that, the transformation scenes were too drawn out. They could have made his transformations be a lot smoother and not so herky jerky. I realize this is 1899, but if the wolfman can have a smooth transformation, then why can’t Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? They had a really nice story going for Mina, but didn’t go anywhere with it. Obviously, she’s a daywalker, but what else can we know about her? For that matter, what it have hurt to give us some more info about each of the characters? Not everyone sits in a library reading all these books day in and day out ,so they may not be familair with them. I know I had to google Dorian GRay.
This is not a concept that would work for just anyone. Can you imagine characters like The Hardy Boys, Judy Blum, Harry Potter, and those characters that Fabio is when he poses for those smut covers teaming up to save the world? No. That’s what makes this film so great. I’ll admit, though, I didn’t know this was a comic. I need to go see if I can find a copy and then watch this film again. I really enjoyed everything about this picture, though. Critics bashed it (big surprise), saying its only redeeming quality was Sean Connery. Look, as with every film, you need to see it to make your own opinion, but the critics are wrong on this one. This is just a fun action flick featuring literary characters saving the world. do I suggest you take the time to watch it. Well, I’m not going ot say drop everything you’re doing and watch it right now, but yes, you should watch it. Disappoint will not be an option!
4 out of 5 stars