The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Good concept

Poorly executed film, altered the story too much and flattened the characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 11, 2003

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


The League is assembled!

A new threat known as the Fantom is threatening the world, and M (Richard Roxburgh) must assemble a team of heroes.  With Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) at the lead, the League is built with a vampire attack survivor named Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), an invisible man named Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), a mad scientist with a dark side named Henry Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), an immortal named Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), and an American detective named Tom Sawyer (Shane West).  The League must stop the Fantom before it is too late and uncover his secrets…along with a traitor in their ranks.



Directed by Stephen Norrington, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (sometimes just called LXG) was based on the 1999 comic book series by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.  The movie was met with negative reviews and faced stiff box-office competition from the surprise hit Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl.  The movie also faced a plagiarism lawsuit with Larry Cohen and Martin Poll claiming it stole from their story Cast of Characters (it was settled out of court).


So romantic…Tom Sawyer, my heart will go on!

As a lit major, I loved Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  It was a fun blend of steampunk and classic literary heroes.  When I heard that it was coming to a film, I already had concerns but was really worried when they started to change everything.  Some changes were ok, but most of the changes to the film did not help it.

The plot for the movie is pretty  muddled.  The first comic book series involved a plot by Fu Manchu (who is copyrighted and wasn’t able to be mentioned in the series either) and led into the War of the Worlds.  It is much tighter and more concise.  Here, you have the Fantom (an ode to the Phantom of the Opera) plotting a world war.  It is much more bland and less interesting.  The story does revert a little back to the original story with M and Moriarty by the end.


CGI battle!!!

The movie also flattens out most of the characters.  Both Mina and Quatermain are neutered for this film.  Connery’s Quatermain tries to add depth with his dead son but just doesn’t play as well as the opium addict Quatermain.  Mina loses all dimension and just becomes “Vampire Girl” here in the film.  Jekyll and Hyde are strong, and could have done with some more dimension.  The Invisible Man was fun, but once again the pales in comparison to the sadistic comic version.  The two new characters are probably the best characters in the film.  Tom Sawyer (who did become a detective in Twain’s later books) has a nice relationship with Quatermain, and Dorian Gray also adds a nice dimension to the movie…I just wish the other characters were as strong.


I’m having a bad hair day

The movie also struggles a bit visually.  I think a lot of the effects (including the bulky Hyde) look rather cheesy instead of “extraordinary”.  With a rich steampunk style, the movie could have been very flashy.  I could have seen something like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as the artistic basis…instead, they went for an average, standard action film.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a letdown.  It was, however, one of those movies that did get a worse rap than it really was.  It wasn’t the worse film ever made, but it was extremely average.  The movie also had lasting ramifications.  Sean Connery’s problems on the set led him to officially retire after the making of the film, and director Stephen Norrington hasn’t made a film since.  With the rising success of superhero franchises League of Extraordinary Gentlemen might have a second chance.  A TV series by FOX is being made with the pilot planned for broadcast regardless if the series is picked up.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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