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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Movie Review

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"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Despite Sean Connery and some impressive 19th century gloom, this big-screen translation of Alan Moore's culty comic-book series falls to earth with an incoherent splat.

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By Charles Taylor

July 11, 2003 | In the opening scene of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," a tank plows through the elegant Victorian interiors of the Bank of England. In short order, we see the destruction of an inn in Kenya, an enormous book-lined London sitting room, and the center of Venice, with the Basilica San Marco among the buildings reduced to rubble. This a destructo-thon for those with a taste for Old World elegance.

There's no reason why "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman" has to be as bad as it is, considering the inspired pop premise of its source, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's graphic novel. The two installments that have appeared in book form so far are a sort of cold daydream of popular literature. Set at the end of the 19th century, the comics tell the story of a group of heroes assembled by British intelligence to fight various threats to the empire. The ingenious element is that all of these adventurers are characters from popular fiction of the era. There's the aged Allen Quatermain (the adventurer from H. Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines"); Mina Harker, nйe Murray (from "Dracula"); H.G. Wells' the Invisible Man; Dr. Henry Jekyll and his alter ego Edward Hyde (who takes the form of a grotesque behemoth); and Captain Nemo (from Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea").

Their contact with the British government is an ancestor of James Bond and, as in the Bond books and movies, the head of British intelligence is M, and his initial is a hint at his own fictional identity. Moore and O'Neill use these characters to play a sophisticated version of the fantasies kids indulge in about whether Superman could defeat Spider-Man. The graphic novels are written and drawn in a style that mingles the formality of Victorian literature with contemporary raunch and bloodthirstiness. When Hyde goes on a rampage we get to see him ripping bad guys quite literally in two, or chomping on their limbs. The Invisible



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