The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

From the graphic novels of the same title by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Just found out from IMDB that Alan Moore is responsible for From Hell…this man will have a lot to answer for when Ma’at weighs his soul in the underworld…

A bunch of literary characters are gathered together in 1899 to stop an evil plan that will end up causing a world war…never mind that the phrase ‘world war’ (used many times during the movie) is itself anachronistic…World War I was known as the Great War until World War II happened…

Sigh. This was so bad that when Railroad David called in the middle of it, as is his wont, I looked at Mr. Otter and said, tell him it’s good and he should rent it. We cackled evilly, and Mr. Otter proceeded to do just that…but then relented. We just couldn’t go through with it. Not even in retaliation for making us watch the Austin Powers movie…even Sean Connery* (serious honey) is awful in this one.

OK, kids, here we go. Make sure your seat belts are fastened, keep your hands and arms inside at all times, and if you feel ill, for goodness sakes use the bags, ok? that’s what they’re there for…

  1. There are no automatic portable machine guns in 1899.
  2. Ditto tanks, which are from trench warfare in WWI
    • And don’t tell me that they have a bunch of secret advanced scientists coming up with this stuff, it doesn’t work for me.
  3. Allan Quartermain died in the eponymous book that was published in 1887. He was in his late 60s in that one, so even if he hadn’t died, he would have been in his late 70s in 1899…
    • Quartermain had a nice house in London and did not live in Africa, he just went there when he had a guide/hunting job.
    • All the books about him take place in Zulu/Boer territory, NOT Kenya.
    • His son was a doctor and died of smallpox.
  4. Tom Sawyer was a young teenager in the early 1840s…do the math on that and he’d have been in his late 60s as well…the league of geriatric gentlemen…
  5. I was going to rant that Captain Nemo was not an East Indian named Prince Dakkar…and then checked Mysterious Island, which I read far too long ago, and found that indeed he was. OK, my bad…but still, he was (for a guy who went around sinking ships) extremely nonviolent, and wanted nothing to do with other people…why on earth would he hook up with this bunch of wackos?
  6. And his sub. Oh man. Not only unbelieveably large, and even bigger inside than outside, but there is NO WAY it would have gone into the canals in Venice, they’re not very deep at all.
  7. And the car. Sure, they had steam engines and some versions of motorcars then…but AERODYNAMICS AND AUTO BODY STYLING hadn’t been invented.
    • And the horses on the streets (and other pedestrians, for that matter) weren’t freaking out from this car driving by? Be serious. Cars terrified horses at the time, and a lot of people as well. They were seriously scary.
    • Not to mention that people who had never seen a car before were not only driving it, but in a manner worthy of an Indy 500 pro driver…never even stalled out in the turns? and it wasn’t an automatic, they hadn’t been invented yet either. How well did you do the first time you drove a stick shift, even having been instructed in theory and operation?
  8. Carnivale in Venice leads up to Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday…last I heard, Easter is a spring holiday. Why on earth did they move this EXTREMELY FAMOUS CELEBRATION to COMPLETELY THE WRONG MONTH??? JULY? give me a break.
  9. And of COURSE the bad guy is MORIARTY, the most hackneyed and overused villain in the history of literature. Would have at least been more interesting if it had actually been Holmes having had second thoughts about the good guy thing when nearly killed at Reichenbach Falls and masquerading as Moriarty so as to preserve his other identity…but no, that would have been inventive and interesting, can’t do it.
  10. And that whole ‘ ‘league of gentlemen’ but we’re letting a woman in because she’s useful and besides we don’t want to be branded as sexist now do we?’ crap. Why call it that if it’s not? Our word for this kind of thing, chez otter: STOO-PID. Don’t try to overlay modern sensibilities on Victorians, they didn’t have the same priorities we do..

OK, that’s enough, I’ll stop frothing at the mouth. Basically, it’s a pastiche of a bunch of literary characters thrown together with no actual knowledge of when they existed or what they were really like…the only two who were even faintly interesting were Dorian Grey and Tom Sawyer, but even they didn’t engage the viewer any more than the plot…its momentum was maintained by throwing in more explosions every time it slowed down, whether or not it made sense to do so…so far, this is the first movie to get BOTH the Reality Police and the Historical No-Brainer at once…I guess that’s some kind of achievement…

But wait! you say. As a librarian, isn’t Otter thrilled to have all these literary characters brought to the consciousness of a couple of generations’ worth of moviegoers? Isn’t this going to be the same kind of boost for the works of Haggard, Wells, Stoker, Verne, Twain, Stevenson, Wilde and Doyle that Peter Jackson’s wonderful movies have been for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Answer: no. Not on your life, no way, huh-uh, I don’t THINK so, nope.

Firstly, most of the people who saw this movie are not likely to have any idea who these literary characters are (ask any teenager to name the most famous of the Allan Quartermain books or tell you who Captain Nemo is if you doubt me…). Secondly, even if you made a list of the books this movie was taken from, the movie is so different from the books that the reader’s reaction is likely to be…huh? what’s this? this has no explosions or instant gratification or scantily clad vampire women, you mean I have to READ THIS? All these HARD WORDS? With my eyes? use my BRAIN? forget it!

And finally, this movie is so sucky and awful, I can’t imagine anyone being intrigued enough by it to care to go any further.

So please. Just this once, believe me. Take my word for it, this is one to miss. Reread all those wonderful books instead…that’s what I’m gonna do, to take the bad taste out of my brain…

*Favorite quote by a clueless actor: Around the time this movie came out, I remember reading a quote of Connery’s…I think it was in People magazine (yes, Otter reads People, how else can I stay in touch with the pulse of America???) and it was something to the effect that he turned down Gandalf in the Peter Jackson movie, and turned down Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movie, and they both turned out to be big hits, so he was darned well wasn’t going to turn down the Allan Quartermain role in this movie, nosireebob!

Way to go, Sean. We’re all proud of you. Three for three.

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