ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  stephan norrington

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  110 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 july 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox


ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $78,000,000
lxg - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at

buy the dvd from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at

in an alternate victorian age world, a group of super heroes team up on a secret mission.

when this screenplay first emerged in 1993, jim carrey was attached.


picture from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

picture from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

picture from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


two out of four possible stars

Combining a standard combination of miniature work, computer generated images, and pyrotechnics, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen fails to show the viewer any new "tricks" in the special effects arena. And though the wry humor and quips from Sean Connery seem like gifts, it's a crowded screen with so many. But whereas the recent "X-Men" sequel did much to keep the audience entertained with the emotional problems of the cast while rolling out the plot in a timely fashion, LXG (as it is known promotionally) steps on the gas only to smash on the breaks a few minutes later in several sequences in the film.

It's so evident in this film when the plot all but halts when the characters reveal their inner-most turmoil. A properly functioning action film should embrace both the action and the reason of its characters in a simultaneously presented form, but LXG can't do both at the same time. It's one or the other. Stuff is getting blown up or the characters are having a heart to heart. And never the two shall meet. Smack dab in the middle of the film, where the pace and energy needs to build exponentially in order to keep the audience's attention, the film slows to a crawl for an extended traveling sequence.

During this trip to Venice aboard Captain Nemo's submarine, the "action" portion of the film is dropped and forgotten. The half dozen oddly chosen "super heroes" like Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo, and Dorian Gray (all a bunch of baddies in the literary world) wander about the ship making theatrical inroads into their psychological health (or lack thereof) all without an ounce of real excitement. But then when the film bounces over into action territory once again when the crew reaches Venice, the explosion sequence becomes numbing after only a short while.

Billed as the most "original" big-budget film of the summer, Gentlemen certainly has an interesting story to grapple with, but far too often, the intellectual insights usually present in the comic book are absent without leave. With the scores of films being produced currently that count comic books as their source material, it's easy to see which ones will fly like Spider-Man and which ones will sink like a stone only minutes after the opening credits. Gentlemen takes its hits and punches but doesn't always get back up fast enough. With no real stand-out performances, one must rely on the tired super-hero "ironic dialogue display" for entertainment far too often.

Ironic dialogue displays include "witty" banter that makes light of whatever super power the character might have. So as not to spoil any of these treasures (that was an ironic use of that word) that might surprise you when/if you see this film, I'll give an example from another film. There is a scene in Spider-Man involving Spidey and his Aunt where she exclaims over her worry that he's exerting himself too much and says, "you're not Superman, you know!" This "ironic" use of language was a hilarious moment in Spider-Man, but now it seems as if this type of language is a prerequisite for the existence of any super hero on screen.

Rather than create real intelligence or insight into the hero's mind, Gentlemen relies on simple emotional concepts that might have been sufficient in a film whose sole purpose was its special effects (think of the dreadful Hulk, it didn't work there either), but that makes the monotony of the action sequences in this film seem all the more tedious. And that word can probably be applied to the entire production. The characters, their emotions, and their super powers seem used and abused and it's hard to find anything fresh about the production.

While the time-period is an interesting choice making for interesting sets (the set designer should be congratulated on the detail of the Victorian sets), the characters who inhabit those sets just don't pop off the screen with enough power. The casting of Stewart Townsend as "Dorian Gray," an immortal, seems an odd choice (almost like type-casting) considering this role is so like his performance in Queen of the Damned. All that's missing from his character in this film is a shoddy French accent, but the mannerisms are all the same.

And interestingly enough, Jason Flemyng, who plays the dual roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, plays the tortured giant Hyde with much more emotion and finesse than the similar character of "The Hulk" played by Eric Bana in his outing in the title role. But though each of the actors seems to have been cast properly in their roles, none make that much of an impression during the film. And that concept extends to the entire film as most of it is sufficient for mindless action movie viewing, but in this crowded summer, it's certainly not at the top of the heap.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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