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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also promoted as LXG, is a 2003 superhero film loosely based on the first volume of the comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. It was released on July 11, 2003, in the United States, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, and Richard Roxburgh.
It is an action film with prominent pastiche and crossover themes set in the late 19th century, featuring an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period, who act as Victorian Era superheroes. It draws on the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Ian Fleming, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux, and Mark Twain, albeit all adapted for the film.
LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY MOVIEEdit
In 1899, men dressed as German soldiers attacked the Bank of England and stole Leonardo da Vinci’s layouts of Venice’s foundations. Shortly after, led by their leader the “Fantom”, men dressed as British officers kidnapped German scientists and destroyed a factory, causing tension between the United Kingdom and Germany which could lead to an international war, with both attacks marked by highly advanced weaponry (for the time) such as tanks and machine guns. Sanderson Reed of the British Empire ventures to Kenya, visiting a gentlemen’s club to recruit world-renowned hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain. Quatermain, retired and mourning the loss of his son after his last adventure, has no interest in serving the British Empire further. Armed men attempt to assassinate Quatermain, forcing him to agree to work with Reed.
In London, Quatermain meets “M”, Reed’s employer, who explains that the Fantom plans to destroy Venice to prevent a meeting between the leaders of the world, his ultimate goal being to start a world war and arms race to profit from sale of his weapons. To combat the Fantom, a team of unique individuals known as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is being formed – consisting of Quatermain himself, Captain Nemo, chemist Mina Harker, and invisible thief Rodney Skinner. M sends the group to recruit their fifth member, immortal Dorian Gray, who remains youthful while a currently missing portrait of himself ages. Dorian once was infatuated with Mina, but refuses to join the team. The Fantom and his assassins attack, but thanks to the presence of U.S. Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer, the assassins are defeated although the Fantom escapes. Mina is revealed to be a vampire, a result of her past encounter with Count Dracula. Dorian and Sawyer join the team and set off in Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, to recruit their final member, Mr. Hyde.
After capturing Hyde in Paris, Quatermain negotiates with him into joining the team by offering amnesty for his past crimes. Hyde agrees, transforming into his harmless self, Dr. Jekyll. On the way to Venice, it eventually becomes clear that there is a traitor on board when a camera’s flash powder is found in the ship’s wheelhouse and one of Dr. Jekyll’s transformation formulas goes missing. Skinner is accused of being the saboteur, but he disappears.
Upon the League's arrival in Venice, bombs planted beneath the city begin to destroy buildings in a domino effect. Nemo concludes they can stop the chain reaction by destroying a building out of sequence using one of the Nautilus’ missiles. Quatermain, Sawyer, Mina and Dorian take Nemo’s automobile to outrun the chain reaction with Dorian and Mina leaping out to fight the Fantom’s men. Quatermain spots the Fantom and confronts him, revealing him to be M. Sawyer manages to signal for the missile to be launched and what's left of Venice is saved. Dorian returns to the ship and kills Nemo’s first mate Ishmael, revealing he is the traitor. The league learns of M and Dorian’s treachery, who escape in an exploration pod. A phonograph record made by M is found, M explaining his true goal was to gather physical elements of the team (Skinner's invisible skin, Jekyll's Hyde formula, Mina's vampire blood, and Nemo's technology, while he only needed Quatermain to capture Hyde) to make superhuman formulas to sell to the highest paying countries, with Dorian revealing bombs are hidden on the submarine. The bombs detonate, damaging the sub, but Hyde drains the flooding water from the Nautilus’ engine rooms. Skinner, who stowed away on Dorian’s pod, messages the group to follow his lead.
The Nautilus travels up the Amur River to northern Mongolia where the league reunites with Skinner. Skinner reveals M runs a factory where weaponized versions of the Nautilus are being constructed along with M's other weapons. The kidnapped scientists are forced to make "invisible spies, an army of Hydes, vampiric assassins." In order that they do so, M has held the scientists' families as hostages. The league break into the factory and split up. Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families. Skinner sets bombs to destroy the factory. Quatermain and Sawyer go after M, who is revealed to be Professor James Moriarty. Mina confronts Dorian and kills him by exposing his portrait to him. Nemo and Hyde manage to free the scientists and their families, but are confronted by Dante and a few of Moriarty's troops, Nemo and Hyde are able to dispatch the soldiers, but Dante gets a hold of a large flask of Hyde formula, he drinks the whole thing, transforming him into an over-muscled, rage-filled abomination that gives Hyde and Nemo trouble in beating him in a direct fight. Quatermain fights Moriarty who points out Sawyer has been taken captive by Sanderson Reed, who has been turned invisible. Quatermain shoots Reed, but is then stabbed by Moriarty who escapes out of a window with the collection of formulas. Sawyer manages to use Quatermain’s teachings to shoot Moriarty dead from afar, the formulas sinking into the icy waters below. Quatermain dies from his injuries, telling Sawyer that the new century is now his just as the old one was Quatermain's.
Quatermain is buried in Kenya beside his son, but the other league members recall his story of how a witch doctor, whose village he had once saved, blessed him, saying as long as he was in Africa, Africa would never allow him to die. After Sawyer, Mina, Nemo, Skinner and Dr. Jekyll depart, the witch doctor appears and performs a ritual. A bolt of lightning strikes Quatermain’s grave, leaving the result ambiguous.
- Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain
- Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo
- Peta Wilson as Mina Harker
- Tony Curran as Rodney Skinner
- Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray
- Shane West as Tom Sawyer
- Jason Flemyng as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Edward Hyde
- Richard Roxburgh as The Fantom / "M" / Professor James Moriarty
- Max Ryan as Dante
- Tom Goodman-Hill as Sanderson Reed
- David Hemmings as Nigel
- Terry O'Neill as Ishmael
MONITOR'S NOTES: Behind-The-Scenes Eva DraperEdit
Intriguingly, there was a character cut from the release version of the film that was not removed from the promotional materials, and still appears in one of the trailers (“Trailer B”). Eva Draper, played by Winter Ave Zoli, is the daughter of the German scientist (named “Draper” and played by Rudolf Pellar) who shouts, “Are you crazy?” at The Fantom when he shoots down Zeppelins during the film’s opening. xxxShe originally appeared twice in the movie. Her first scene was completely excised and no further details are available; her second scene actually remains in the finished film, however she has been digitally replaced by another character. The scene in question occurs at the film’s climax, where she attacks Quatermain and Sawyer in a moment that leads to Sawyer’s “Eyes open” rebuttal line. xxx“This sequence was originally shot with a young blonde woman coming in and hitting Shane West over the head and interfering with this apprehension of M,” said LXG producer Trevor Albert, on the DVD commentary. “We realised, because we’d cut out another little bit of the movie, it made no sense… [Through] the miracle of digital effects we basically totally removed the character and put another character in, which made it less complicated. We were afraid that having the girl introduced in that sequence would’ve confused the audience, and as I say we had removed a sequence where we sort of indicated who she was earlier.” xxxIn removing Eva, the filmmakers actually integrated a brief fight scene between Sawyer and the replacement character by rotoscoping footage of him from another scene, which completely took Shane West (the actor portraying Sawyer) by surprise when he saw the finished film. “There was a girl that was supposed to be the daughter of one of the kidnapped scientists,” said West, “and it just did not make sense throwing her into this and not having some sort of backstory, so they decided to cut her out. They replaced her successfully with some sort of soldier who’s creeping up behind me as Sean and I walk into this scene. And somehow, even though I never made the move, I butt him in the head with the butt of my rifle, and somehow I’m able to knock him out when it’s – I mean, it was just amazing. I didn’t know – I’d forgotten. I was sitting there with my eyes, my mouth was open wide, and Trevor [Albert, LXG producer]was just laughing, and I was like, ‘What happened to the girl? And how did I kick some guy’s butt when I never really did that?’” xxxDespite her appearance in the trailer, Winter Ave Zoli remains uncredited for her excised role, which is standard practice for characters omitted from the release prints of films.
MONITOR'S NOTES: Behind-The-Scenes SequalsEdit
According to IMDb, all of the main actors save Townsend signed for a three-movie deal. The possible sequels were to have resurrected Quatermain (as hinted by the movie's ending); introduced Campion Bond, possibly played by Roger Moore; and, according to Shane West, have placed Tom Sawyer as the head of the League. However, given Connery's retirement from acting and the critical and relative financial panning of the movie, any sequels are unlikely.