The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Premise:

     Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) is called away from Africa to join a band of famous Victorian Era novel characters to face a threat that could destroy their world.

Why you should watch it:

     Hear me out. 

     This movie is so bizarre. I don’t know how it exists. It is based on a comic book with this absurd premise of an alternate reality in which the characters of Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Tom Sawyer, and so on exist in the same universe. These are all great characters and it’s a fun idea to have them interact, but then, the most obscure character in the bunch is viewed as the leader. All the other characters are iconic with interesting quirks but who knows much about Quartermain in comparison? King Solomon’s Mines has a small fraction of reviewers than the other books received. Why was this choice made? Furthermore, the audience for this movie not only has to like watching silly action films, but they are expected to have a pretty good understanding of 19th century British and American literature. It is such a niche film. Who would think to mash all these things together?

     And yet, it kind of works.

     This movie provides a genuinely fun experience. The lines and puns are exactly what you’d hope for in a film that solely exists for the references. It is extremely cheesy and predictable (in a satisfying sort of way), wrapped up in an early 2000s campy package. The effects and sound design is hilarious in the best way possible. My first viewing, I watched it on my own out of morbid curiosity and I found it fascinating, but rewatching it with someone else who had the aforementioned interest requirements made for an entertaining experience filled with laughs the whole way through. 

     I don’t mean to totally trash the film. Despite being silly and not aging well, I think it has some genuinely well executed moments. The transitions between scenes–whether cut or played through–were very good which helps when bumping around to many different characters. Granted, it helps to already know most of these characters from their original stories, but time is spent effectively to keep up the momentum and have a captivating cast. The writing is enjoyable because it pays homage to beloved characters while dishing out some satisfying lines and moments. 

     If you are in the center of an odd Venn diagram of people who love action movies, comic books, late 19th century literature, and campy humor, this movie would be a great one to consider viewing. 

Parent’s Guide:

     There are many action sequences with hand to hand combat, guns, swords, and explosions. These fights aren’t typically graphic but there are many on screen deaths. There are some immortal characters who are seen taking a lot of deadly shots and stabs but they regenerate quickly. There is a scene of a man aging quickly until he deteriorates into dust. Another man’s charred flesh can be seen for a time. There’s also a lot of mild curse words that pop up (damn, hell, bloody, etc.), and there is one brief scene of two characters kissing passionately. The main issue is that the abilities of these characters might be frightening to a child, like a vampire attacking or Dr. Jekyll turning into the gruesome Mr. Hyde. It’s all in good fun, but it can be seen as scary for those too young to see through the poor effects. 

Rated PG-13

Where to watch:

Available to stream on Amazon Prime

Available to rent for $2.99 on Microsoft and Redbox, and for $3.99 on Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube, Fandango Now, Vudu, and Directv

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