The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film)


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film)

Infobox Film


name=The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
director=Stephen Norrington
writer=Comic Book:
Alan Moore
Kevin O'Neill
Screenplay:
James Dale Robinson
starring=Sean Connery
Naseeruddin Shah
Peta Wilson
Tony Curran
Stuart Townsend
Shane West
Jason Flemyng
Richard Roxburgh
Max Ryan
music=Trevor Jones
producer=Trevor Albert
Rick Benattar
Sean Connery
Mark Gordon
Don Murphy
Michael Nelson
editing=Paul Rubell
cinematography=Dan Laustsen
distributor=20th Century Fox
released=11 July 2003
runtime=110 min.
language=English
budget=$78,000,000
imdb_id = 0311429| amg_id = 1:281053

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is a 2003 film loosely based on the comic book limited series of the same name. It was released on 11 July 2003 in the United States.

It is an adventure film set late in the 19th century, featuring an assortment of literary characters appropriate to the period. The adaptation's plot and general atmosphere, however, is very far from the original comic book.

Plot

In an alternate turn of the 20th century, several high profile crimes occur in various nations throughout Europe, leading Europe to the brink of war. An emissary of the British government arrives in a gentlemen's club in Kenya, hoping to recruit the legendary, but now aged, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain to investigate the situation. Though Quatermain's sense of patriotism has waned, he wishes to protect Africa from war and agrees, especially after his lodge is attacked and destroyed.

In London, Quartermain meets with the mysterious "M", 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 Captain Nemo, Commander of the world's only submersible vessel, invisible gentleman thief Rodney Skinner, who works for the government in hopes of an antidote for the invisibility serum he stole, and Mina Harker, a vampire and well-regarded chemical scientist. The group also recruits the mysterious immortal Dorian Grey, Dr. Henry Jekyll (who can transform into the superhumanly strong Edward Hyde under the effects of a special elixir), and a American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer; in Hyde's case, he had to be hunted down 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 set off for Venice.

The group worry 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, unsurprisingly, is nowhere to be found. Though the group reaches Venice in time, a series of bombs that has 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 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 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, Jekyll's formula, Mina's blood, and 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, though Hyde is able 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 travel to a cave overlooking an industrial fortress. Skinner meets with the group 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 weapons are being constructed.

Splitting up, the League infiltrates the factory. Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families, while Sawyer and Quatermain go after M. Mina goes in search of Gray, while Skinner sets off to plant some explosives. Nemo and Hyde run into M's second-in-command, Dante, 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 an enchanted portrait of himself. When he sets eyes upon the painting, he ages incredibly 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.

The League assembles in Africa to bury Quatermain. As the group departs, a tribal witch doctor 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. The earth shakes violently, making the rifle that Sawyer had left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes Quatermain's grave right before the screen cuts to black.

Cast

Characters

Allan Quatermain

The English adventurer Allan Quatermain first originated in the Sir H. Rider Haggard novel "King Solomon's Mines". The character matches with his original storyline as we are informed that he had two wives and a son. Although he does die in the movie, the final sequence with the shaman indicates that Africa "won't let him die," and that he is being resurrected. Allan describes himself as "an old tiger sensing his end" who wants to "go down fighting."

Tom Sawyer

The Tom Sawyer character is taken from the novels by Mark Twain ("Tom Sawyer, Detective", in particular) and has only a brief cameo in the comic book version of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Tom Sawyer is never directly referred to as such in the film, instead introducing himself as "Special Agent Sawyer," while the end credits list him as "Tom." However in a deleted scene Dr. Jekyll calls him Tom, and he mentions a "childhood friend" whom the Fantom murdered. This friend was, most likely, Huck Finn (this is explicitly stated in the film's novelization).

Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo is the Indian submariner from Jules Verne's 1870 novels "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", "The Mysterious Island," and "Journey Through the Impossible."

He is very different from his comic-book counterpart, who is portrayed as a snobbish, world-weary, retired underwater terrorist with undertones of sexism, xenophobia, and misanthropy. In the comics he is also far more important to the League, realizing before the rest that their superiors cannot be trusted, and deducing both their identities and their plans. In the movie, the Nautilus does not bear any resemblance to the comic version (which has tentacles).

Mina Harker

The character of Wilhelmina Harker found her origins in Bram Stoker's horror novel "Dracula", where she was transformed into a vampire by the novel's eponymous antagonist.

Whereas the comic version of Mina had been divorced from Jonathan Harker (who was horrified by her bite marks), film Mina has been a widow for years, and some hypothesize that Mina killed him because she couldn't control her vampiric instincts. Mina usually wears black, meaning that she is probably still mourning for him.

Unlike traditional vampires, Mina can stand in the sun (something that Dracula could also do, but resulted in his powers being vastly diminished), cross the ocean easily, is never shown to need to sleep in a coffin, and she freely entered Moriarty's lair without invitation. Mina is also shown to cast a reflection. Her powers include rapid healing and immortality (she can survive being stabbed in the chest and says that it's possible she can't die, though she did berate Gray for missing her heart). She can call up a flock of bats to either attack her enemies or to cling to her and allow Mina to fly. She can leap approximately 10 feet into the air and cling to walls like a bat, and is strong enough to easily overpower one of Moriarty's men. When her vampiric nature is first revealed, Mina's eyes turn red, and, for a brief scene, Mina transforms into a more "classical" looking vampire: developes chalk white skin, her ears become pointed, her teeth transform into fangs, and her eyes become red again. She was once a lover of Dorian Gray's, but claims that their love died. They briefly rekindle their affair during the course of the film, which makes his later actions a very personal betrayal.

In the comic book Wilhelmina goes by the name Wilhelmina Murray and displays no evidence of being a vampire apart from wounds on her neck.

Rodney Skinner

While Dr. Hawley Griffin from the comic is a sociopath and a rapist, Rodney Skinner, the thief who stole Griffin's invisibility formula and became permanently invisible, is merely mischievous. His heroic side shines through eventually, as he is the one to stow away on M's little sub with Gray, and he nearly dies in saving Sawyer from a horrible death, receiving some horrific 3rd degree burns as a result. The concept of the character is from the H. G. Wells story "The Invisible Man".

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Featured in the novel "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson, the film version of the character has a young Dr. Jekyll and a huge and muscular Mr. Hyde who is prone to getting enraged and fighting his enemies, using his tremendous strength and resistance to injury to his advantage, much like a more toned down version of the Incredible Hulk. However, like in the comic, the film retains the idea that Mr. Hyde is morally evil, preys on young women, and even suggests that he is the actual murderer in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Unlike in the comic or in the original novel, the formula that Dr. Jekyll uses to transform into Mr. Hyde only lasts for a certain length of time, after which he reverts back into Dr. Jekyll. He also is unable to transform into Mr. Hyde through getting into a highly emotional state, which he could do in the comic, instead relying entirely on his formula to transform into his monstrous alter ego. When Dr. Jekyll is in control of his body, Mr. Hyde is able to speak to him through his reflection and shadows (and vice versa).

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray is the main character from "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. A mistake in the reading of the cover of the collected edition of the original comic led to his more resembling Sir Francis Varney in the film; the cover depicted both the original portrait of Gray as depicted in Wilde's book, and a portrait of Varney, which became the basis for the movie Gray's character.Fact|date=October 2007 Like Tom, Dorian only makes a cameo in the comic. In the movie Gray cannot look at his portrait because it will undo the enchantment on him, this is different from the book in which he could look at his portrait to see how it has changed whenever he wants. Also, instead of merely taking on the effects of aging instead of himself, the portrait also absorbs any physical damage Gray takes, effectively rendering him immortal and invulnerable.

Other characters

* The armoured men at the beginning of the film are reminiscent of the infamous Kelly Gang.
*In a move reminiscent of the James Bond novels, the League is recruited by a character known as "M."
*The mysterious character that attacks military bases and banks is referred to as the "Fantom" (so spelled in the credits) who resembles the Phantom of the Opera or French master villain Fantômas. Upon first hearing that their adversary is known as the Fantom, Quatermain remarks, "How very operatic."
* When mentioned that Quartermain made excellent time from Africa, he remarks "Not as good as Phileas Fogg. Around the world in 80 days!?"
*In the library where Quatermain meets M, Nemo, and Mina, there are paintings meant to represent members of past generations of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Among those featured are Zorro, Doctor Syn, Robin Hood, Natty Bumpo, and the Three Musketeers.
*Captain Nemo's first mate is named Ishmael, suggesting the protagonist from Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick." The character's first line of dialogue is "Call me Ishmael," the first line of Melville's novel.
*The true identity of M/Fantom is Professor James Moriarty, the supposedly fallen nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, who won't resurface for a few years into the next century.
*After the battle in Gray's house, when Mina explains her power, she mentions her husband Jonathan Harker and Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula."
*Before entering Gray's house, Skinner mentions Jack the Ripper ("This is a charming spot. Does Jack the Ripper live here?").
*In Paris, while hunting for Mr. Hyde, Quatermain makes the observation that "this big monkey has terrorized the Rue Morgue for months." This is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", in which an orangutan is responsible for a series of grisly murders; the implication is that the so-called monkey causing the deaths may really have been Mr. Hyde. In the comic book, however, Chevallier Dupin asserts that it was an orangutan, though several years in the past. Now, the present series of murders only resemble those of the monkey. Furthermore, references are made to Jack the Ripper.
*In a scene deleted from the film (but which can be viewed on the DVD), Sawyer informs the rest of the League that he joined them because the Fantom murdered his Secret Service partner — his childhood friend, Huckleberry Finn. This is also the only scene in which anyone uses Sawyer's first name, identifying him as Tom Sawyer.

Eva Draper

Intriguingly, there was a character cut from the release version of the film that was not removed from the promotional materials, and still appears in one of the trailers (“Trailer B”). Eva Draper, played by Winter Ave Zoli, is the daughter of the German scientist (named “Karl Draper” and played by Rudolf Pellar) who shouts, “Are you crazy?” at The Fantom when he shoots down Zeppelins during the film’s opening.

She originally appeared twice in the movie. Her first scene was completely excised and no further details are available; her second scene actually remains in the finished film, however she has been digitally replaced by another character. The scene in question occurs at the film’s climax, where she attacks Quatermain and Sawyer in a moment that leads to Sawyer’s “Eyes open” rebuttal line.

"“This sequence was originally shot with a young blonde woman coming in and hitting Shane West over the head and interfering with this apprehension of M,”" said LXG producer Trevor Albert, on the DVD commentary. "“We realised, because we’d cut out another little bit of the movie, it made no sense… [Through] the miracle of digital effects we basically totally removed the character and put another character in, which made it less complicated. We were afraid that having the girl introduced in that sequence would’ve confused the audience, and as I say we had removed a sequence where we sort of indicated who she was earlier.”"

In removing Eva, the filmmakers actually integrated a brief fight scene between Sawyer and the replacement character by rotoscoping footage of him from another scene, which completely took Shane West (the actor portraying Sawyer) by surprise when he saw the finished film. "“There was a girl that was supposed to be the daughter of one of the kidnapped scientists,”" said West, "“and it just did not make sense throwing her into this and not having some sort of backstory, so they decided to cut her out. They replaced her successfully with some sort of soldier who’s creeping up behind me as Sean and I walk into this scene. And somehow, even though I never made the move, I butt him in the head with the butt of my rifle, and somehow I’m able to knock him out when it’s – I mean, it was just amazing. I didn’t know – I’d forgotten. I was sitting there with my eyes, my mouth was open wide, and Trevor [Albert, LXG producer] was just laughing, and I was like, ‘What happened to the girl? And how did I kick some guy’s butt when I never really did that?’”"

Despite her appearance in the trailer, Winter Ave Zoli remains uncredited for her excised role, which is standard practice for characters omitted from the release prints of films.

Reception

The film was critically panned, garnering a 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 166 reviews and a score of 30 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 36 reviews. Empire magazine gave it two stars out of five criticizing the film's expository dialogue and lack of character depth, saying it 'flirts dangerously close with one-star ignominy'.

The film domestically grossed an estimated $66,465,204 in the U.S. and $112,800,000 worldwide, easily recovering its $78,000,000 budget.

Lawsuit

The "Cast of Characters" vs. "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" lawsuit involved Larry Cohen and Martin Poll filing a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming the company had intentionally plagiarized a script of theirs entitled "Cast of Characters" in order to create the Sean Connery-starring "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" film in 2003. 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 the Cast of Characters.""Gentlemen lands Fox in $100m lawsuit", Saturday, September 27, 2003. "Calcutta Telegraph".] " [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2003_Sept_25/ai_108157075 Producer and Writer File $100 Million Lawsuit Against 20th Century-Fox] ", September 25, 2003. "Business Wire". [http://www.webcitation.org/5Y9nrwowO Archived] on 2008-05-28.] cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/3141720.stm|title=Studio sued over superhero movie|date=26 September, 2003|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2008-05-16 [http://www.webcitation.org/5XrcV3T8s Archived] on 2008-05-16.]

The lawsuit alleged that Fox had solicited the comics series "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" from Moore as a "smokescreen" for their intent to produce a movie plagiarizing "Cast of Characters".It also claimed that both films shared similar public domain characters, including Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray, characters who did not appear in the comic book series. [Barber, Nicholas, "Notices: Cinema opening this week". "The Independent on Sunday" (London); Oct 26, 2003; p. 39] Although Fox dismissed the lawsuit as "absurd nonsense", the case was ultimately settled out-of-court, a decision which Moore, according to the "New York Times" "took ... as an especially bitter blow, believing that he had been denied the chance to exonerate himself." [cite news|title=The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta'|last=Itzkoff|first=David|date=March 12, 2006|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-05-16|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/movies/12itzk.html]

Tie-ins

A novelization of the movie was written by Kevin J. Anderson and released shortly before the movie. Anderson would later go on to write "The Martian War", as by Gabriel Mesta, a book with several similarities to "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II".

The soundtrack album was also released, although not in the United States.

Notes

References

*
*

External links

* [http://www.foxhome.com/lxg/ Official movie website]
* [http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/317/317027p1.html Article at FilmForce about the film]
* [http://www.comics2film.com/index.php?a=project&j=34 Comics2Film entry]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20001214100900/http://www.corona.bc.ca/films/directorscut/001006 Archived early review of the "LXG" script]
* [http://movies.ign.com/articles/358/358223p1.html Stax's review at IGN of a revised version of the script]


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