The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Norrington
Produced by Trevor Albert
Rick Benattar
Sean Connery
Mark Gordon
Don Murphy
Michael Nelson
Screenplay by James Dale Robinson
Based on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by
Alan Moore
Kevin O'Neill
Starring Sean Connery
Naseeruddin Shah
Peta Wilson
Tony Curran
Stuart Townsend
Shane West
Jason Flemyng
Richard Roxburgh
Music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography Dan Laustsen
Editing by Paul Rubell
Studio 20th Century Fox
Angry Films
International Production Company
JD Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) July 11, 2003
Running time 110 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $78 million
Box office $179,265,204

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a 2003 superhero film adaptation loosely based on characters from the comic book limited series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, who is also famous for Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. It was released on July 11, 2003, in the United States, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, and Richard Roxburgh.

It is an action adventure film set in the late 19th century, featuring an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period, who act as Victorian Era superheroes. It draws on the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Ian Fleming, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux, and Mark Twain, albeit all adapted for the film. The plot and general atmosphere are very far from those of the original comic book.

The film was intended to spawn a film franchise based on further titles in the original comic book series, but it was critically panned, so there was little enthusiasm for a sequel. However, despite negative reviews the film was a box office hit.

Plot Edit

In an alternate version of 1899, the Bank of England in London is attacked by a group of men who appear to be German soldiers using advanced explosives, automatic weapons, and an armored tank. Next is an attack on a Zeppelin factory in Berlin, by the same men, this time dressed as British soldiers. The British and German Empires are ready to declare war, which many believe will spread throughout Europe. An emissary of the British government, Sanderson Reed (Tom Goodman-Hill), arrives in a gentlemen's club in British East Africa, to recruit the legendary, but now aged and world-weary, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) to investigate.

Because his adventures had cost the lives of many friends and lovers, two wives, and his beloved only child (a son, who died in his arms), Quatermain's enthusiasm for the British Empire and European wars has waned and he refuses. The words are hardly out of his mouth when men with automatic rifles burst into the club with attempts to assassinate Quatermain. The automatic rifles cause astonishment, as nobody known yet had invented a machinegun which was as small and light as a rifle. Soon the club is blown up, bringing the threat of war to his beloved Africa, and he agrees.

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", who have aided the world in times of need. In this case, they will combat the threat of the "Fantom", the true mastermind of the current crisis. M says they can ensure world peace, by stopping him from destroying Venice, where a peace conference is to take place. Quatermain is introduced to:

When the group visits the mysterious immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), the Fantom and his men attack. They fend off his forces with the help of American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West), who was on an investigation of his own and now joins them, but the Fantom escapes. The League then sets off to Paris to capture Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jason Flemyng); his evil form Edward Hyde, a misshapen giant, is found to be terrorizing the Rue Morgue. He is hunted down and captured by Quatermain and Sawyer before Jekyll offers his services for reprieve for his crimes as Hyde in London.

With the League complete, they take off on the Nautilus for Venice. They begin to suspect there is a traitor in their midst when flash powder from a camera is found in the wheelhouse and a vial of Jekyll's transformation serum is found to be missing. Naturally, all think Skinner is the culprit; but, being invisible, Skinner cannot be found.

Though the League reaches Venice in time, the bombs planted under the city start to detonate, toppling buildings in a domino effect. The League decides that knocking one of the buildings out of the sequence is the only way to stop the mass collapse. 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 Dorian Gray and Mina Harker disembark to fight the Fantom's henchmen ambushing them. Quatermain, meanwhile, sees the Fantom and gives chase 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, although fatally shot, is able to reveal that Gray, not Skinner, is the traitor. Gray escapes in an exploration pod (a mini-sub), and Nemo sets the Nautilus in pursuit. A phonograph record made by M and Gray is found, revealing that the mission to Venice and the League itself were merely a ruse to enable M to take physical elements (Mina's vampire blood, Skinner's invisible skin, Jekyll's potion, and a photograph of Nemo's technological specs) from each of the supernatural members. He plans to construct an army of soldiers and weapons based on their powers; Quatermain was used only to capture Hyde. M's goal is to amass enormous wealth by starting wars and selling armaments and weaponry to the combatant countries. As the record plays, it releases an ultrasonic signal that sets off three bombs set by Gray before his departure. However, Dr. Jekyll transforms into Hyde and prevents the ship from sinking.

Following a signal from Skinner, who had stowed away on the exploration pod when Gray escaped, the Nautilus follows it to the Asiatic Arctic, where the League finds a cave overlooking an industrial fortress. Skinner appears and tells them that M is holding a number of scientists and their families as hostages and slaves in the fortress, his munitions factory. Splitting up, the League infiltrates the factory: Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families; Sawyer and Quatermain go after M; Skinner goes off to plant explosives; and Mina searches for her former lover, Gray.

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 monster to combat Hyde. Mina fights to a stalemate with Gray, as they are both immortal, until she confronts him with his enchanted portrait. When he sets eyes upon the painting, he ages rapidly, dies, and decays to dust. Quatermain, along with Sawyer, confronts M in his lair and reveals his deduction that M is none other than the supposedly dead nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, Professor James Moriarty.

As Skinner's explosives go off, Nemo and Jekyll escape the fortress through a small hole blasted into the wall, while Dante is crushed to death. Quatermain and Sawyer follow Moriarty, and Sawyer is attacked by Moriarty's men. Skinner saves Sawyer but is badly burnt, though he survives. Meanwhile, as Quatermain is about to kill Moriarty, he sees Sawyer being held at knifepoint by an invisible Sanderson Reed and chooses to save Sawyer at the cost of being stabbed himself. Sawyer, using Quatermain's rifle "Mathilda" and the marksmanship skills Quatermain taught him, fatally shoots Moriarty who is fleeing across the ice toward his stolen submersible vessel. As Quatermain dies, he tells Sawyer that the new century belongs to him "as the old one was mine".

The surviving League members assemble in Africa to bury Quatermain, next to his son, subsequently deciding to remain together as Nemo invites the League to join him as he sees the world anew as the century turns after hiding away from it for so long. As they depart, a tribal witch doctor (Semere-Ab Etmet Yohannes) takes handfuls of dirt from the grave and begins a ritual chant. We are reminded of a witch doctor's blessing and pronouncement, recounted at the beginning of the movie, that Africa would not let Quatermain die. As the witch doctor chants, the earth shakes, making the rifle Sawyer left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes the rifle and Quatermain's grave, and the screen cuts to black.

Cast Edit

Production Edit

This movie was filmed in Hungary,[1] Malta, and the Czech Republic.[2]

A character named Eva Draper (Winter Ave Zoli), the daughter of German scientist Karl Draper, was removed during editing but remained in some of the promotional material. Eva had appeared in two scenes: One ended up on the cutting room floor, and she was digitally replaced with a different character in the other. A brief fight scene featuring Tom Sawyer and the replacement character was rotoscoped into the movie, which certainly took Shane West by surprise. The deleted scenes which feature Draper appear on the DVD.

Sean Connery reportedly had many disputes with director[3] Stephen Norrington. He did not attend the opening party; and, when Connery was asked where the director could be, he is said to have replied, "Check the local asylum." Norrington reportedly did not like the studio supervision and is "uncomfortable" with large crews.[4]

For the script, the character "The Invisible Man" was changed to "An Invisible Man" since Fox was unable to obtain the rights to that character. A Fu Manchu character was also dropped from the script. At Fox's request, the character of Tom Sawyer was added for American audiences and to give the movie some "youth appeal." Producer Don Murphy, who described the request as a "stupid studio note," later stated that the move to add Sawyer was "brilliant."[4]

The studio put pressure on the filmmakers for a summer release. Some people at Fox wanted it to be released in the fall; but, according to the Los Angeles Times, Fox already had Master and Commander lined up for the fall. The production ran into some trouble when a special effects set did not pan out as intended, forcing the filmmakers to have to quickly look for another effects shop.[4]

Connery was paid $17 million USD for his role, which left the filmmakers little money to attract other big-name stars for the ensemble cast.[4]

In an interview with The Times, Kevin O'Neill said he believed the film failed because it was not respectful of the source material. He did not recognize the characters when reading the screenplay. He also said that Norrington and Connery did not get along. Finally, O'Neill said that the comic book version of Allan Quatermain was a lot better than the movie version.[5]

Lawsuit Edit

In 2003 Larry Cohen and Martin Poll filled a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming the company had intentionally plagiarized their script Cast of Characters. According to the BBC, the lawsuit alleged "that Mr Cohen and Mr Poll pitched the idea to Fox several times between 1993 and 1996, under the name Cast of Characters,"[6][7][8] and that Fox had solicited the comics series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a smoke screen.[6][7][8] It noted that the films shared public domain characters who did not appear in the comic book series.[9] Although Fox denied the allegations as "absurd nonsense",[8] the case was settled out of court, a decision Alan Moore, according to the New York Times "took ... as an especially bitter blow, believing that [he] had been denied the chance to exonerate [himself]."[10]

Reception Edit

Critical reaction to the film was generally negative, garnering a 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 176 reviews,[11] and a 30% approval rating on Metacritic based on 36 reviews.[12] Empire magazine gave it two stars out of five whilst criticizing the film's exposition and lack of character depth, saying it 'flirts dangerously close with one-star ignominy'.[13] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one star out of a possible four stating "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen assembles a splendid team of heroes to battle a plan for world domination, and then, just when it seems about to become a real corker of an adventure movie, plunges into incomprehensible action, idiotic dialogue, inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy. What a mess."[14]

However, the film did well at the U.S. box office, opening at #2 behind Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.[15] The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen grossed an estimated $66,465,204 in Canada and the United States, $12,603,037 in the United Kingdom, and $12,033,033 in Spain. Worldwide, the film took $179,265,204.[16]

Home media Edit

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen earned a total of $48,640,000 in rentals with $14,810,000 from video rentals and $33,830,000 from DVD rentals.[17] DVD sales meanwhile gathered revenue of $36,400,000.[17]

Other media Edit

A novelization of the movie was written by Kevin J. Anderson and released shortly before the movie.

The soundtrack album was also released internationally but not in the United States.

References Edit

  1. "Movies; Hungary plans huge studio, luring film world :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles, Calif.] Jun 4, 2004, E.13. Los Angeles Times.
  2. Bill Desowitz. "Movies; Bonds, James Bonds; Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan: 007s who've saved the world in her majesty's service :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. 17 Nov. 2002,E.6. Los Angeles Times.
  3. STUART CAMERON. "HAS SEAN MADE HIS LAST MOVIE? ; Mystery as 007 legend quits film role :[SCOTS Edition]. " The Daily Mirror [London (UK)] 30 Sep. 2004,9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 John Horn. "Heroic effort?; Audiences are the last hurdle for a beleaguered 'League.' :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. 14 Jul 2003,E.1. Los Angeles Times
  5. Owen Vaughan (February 25, 2009). "Interview: Kevin O'Neill reveals the secrets of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Marshal Law". The Times. "They changed the whole balance by marginalising Mina and making her a vampire." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Gentlemen lands Fox in $100m lawsuit", Saturday, September 27, 2003. Calcutta Telegraph.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Producer and Writer File $100 Million Lawsuit Against 20th Century-Fox", September 25, 2003. Business Wire. Archived on 2008-05-28.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Studio sued over superhero movie". BBC. 26 September 2003. Retrieved 2008-05-16.  Archived on 2008-05-16.
  9. Barber, Nicholas, "Notices: Cinema opening this week". The Independent on Sunday (London); Oct 26, 2003; p. 39
  10. Itzkoff, David (March 12, 2006). "The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  11. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  12. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  13. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Empire magazine. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  14. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  15. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  16. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Foreign Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 

External linksEdit

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