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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
(2003 Film)

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About This Film

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003):  This is a superhero movie in the truest sense.  It's quite unique, because popular fictional characters from the 19th century are all put together in one story.  The characters are positively unique and engaging, many of them being retooled from their original literary appearances.  The year is 1899, and a mysterious villain called "The Phantom" attempts to start a World War and nearly succeeds.  A team of unique individuals is called together to fight this fantastic force.  The Phantom has incredible weaponry, including early versions of tanks, rocket launchers, and machine guns.  If you know your history you'll know that these items weren't invented until many years later in the 20th century.  This is supposed to give you an impression that these things have been around longer, in various forms, than anyone ever expected.  It's very clever.  Then we have Captain Nemo's impressive submarine and a little invention he calls the Automobile.  Cool!  The way these vehicles are designed is impressive within itself.

    Each one of the major characters deserves recognition.  Here is a rundown of the ingenious portrayals of these classic characters, recreated and made even more special for this movie.

The Heroes

Allan Quatermain Adventurer and uncanny marksman.  Played by Sean Connery.  I've always admired Sean as an actor and feel that as time has gone on, he just keeps getting better and better!  It's really unusual for an actor to be able to get such diverse parts as he (or she) gets older, but he's so good that parts just seem to come up.  He's come a long way since the James Bond films.

    Quatermain is a bit old, we assume 60s or 70s.  He is an unusually good shot with a gun.  Plus he has managed to survive all these dangerous adventures he's had over the years.  A medicine man in Africa once blessed him with eternal life, saying that Africa would never let him die.  He is recruited as the leader of this team and was reluctant to do so.  His spirit has been crushed by the death of his son some years ago.  He is teamed with a young American named Tom Sawyer who reminds him of his son and perhaps as a younger version of himself.  It's a bit unsettling for him, but the two become close nonetheless.

First Appearance of Allan Quatermain:

Captain Nemo:  Former pirate, now an explorer.  Played by Naseeruddin Shah.  This character is so cool, and a large part of that has to do with the actor who plays him.  How come this Captain Nemo is so much more interesting than the Captain Nemo from the classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" film?  He has a much more flamboyant wardrobe for one thing.  Plus, it is really because of him that the League can do much world-saving at all.  Without his incredible submarine Nautilus or his Automobile, none of them would have been able to get very far.  More so than that, I like Nemo's personality.  He is a somewhat reformed pirate and has a sociable demeanor, but make him mad and you'll feel every inch of sharp, cold steel.  He's a swordsman, and we often see him tear up the bad guys with it.  "I follow a different path." is probably his best one-liner in the film.  This comes about when the enemies make note of how they have guns and he doesn't.  Shah is an amazing actor for this character and comes from India.  He has made a ton of films in India, but I hope he can land even more roles in American films someday.

    At first, leader Allan Quatermain and Captain Nemo have an icy reception, but they fast become friends.  They are more or less co-leaders of the team.  Nemo's Nautilus has great importance because it's the League's major vehicle and he's the Captain.  He doesn't allow any monkey-business on his ship.

First Appearance of Captain Nemo:  He first appeared in the novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne in 1873.  Some sources say 1870.  Jules Verne was French, and lived from 1828-1905.

Mina Harker:  Scientist and vampiress.  Played by Peta Wilson.  She looks good, but more than that she has a sexy personality.  Mina was turned into a vampire years ago by Count Dracula.  She has lived for these many years.  No one knows that she is a vampire until the team is almost completely put together...except for M.  She goes from prim and proper to wildly dressed, redheaded vampire.  At the beginning of the film we almost anticipate a romance between Mina and Allan, later we see a relationship rekindled between Mina and Dorian Gray, but more strongly we see Mina and Tom Sawyer fall in love.  He really isn't her type at first, "cute, and young", but he grows on her.  We actually see that she becomes concerned for his safety later in the film.

    Peta plays this role very well and I would like to see a sequel made so she can play her again.

Peta Wilson

First Appearance of Mina Harker:  She first appeared in the novel "Dracula" by Bram Stoker in 1897.  Her creator was Irish, and lived from 1847-1912.  The story was set in 19th century Transylvania, Romania.

Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde:  Scientist or monster.  Played by Jason Flemyng.  How many times have we seen or heard something about Jekyll & Hyde?  And how many times does it bore us senseless because it only amounts to some guy whipping on makeup and making growling noises like Frankenstein?  This is not the case here.  Far from it.  This is, without a doubt, the best portrayal of the characters Jekyll & Hyde in any form of media.  Jekyll is a brilliant scientist, but very uneasy and nervous.  When he becomes Hyde, it is not a makeup job.  Thanks to special effects, we see a computer-generated Hyde that is as big, mean, and nasty-looking as the Incredible Hulk!  What's even scarier is that Hyde is so eloquent.  He doesn't really growl.  Everything is well-prosed.  He speaks even more proper than Jekyll, but he's very much unstable.  Hyde has a temper.  Dr. Jekyll learns to control Hyde more and more in the film, which is good to see, and Hyde learns to use his power for good.  Before, these two personalities hated each other, and towards the end of the film they build an alliance.  Jekyll also loses some of his nervousness as he starts to get his life together among all the crazy happenings.  I like Jason Flemyng as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He should play these characters again, perhaps in a spinoff from this film.  Visually, Hyde is the movie's most impressive character.

First Appearance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:  He first appeared in the novel "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886.  The story is set in London, England.  Robert Louis Stevenson was English and lived from 1850-1894.

The Invisible Man aka Rodney Skinner:  Powers of invisibility and professional thief.  Played by Tony Curran.  I love his cocky attitude.  It's also a neat aesthetic to have him paint his face with white make-up so we can see his expressions.  He's definitely one of the lower elements, dressed in his leather trenchcoat.  Rodney is nowhere near as refined as any of the other characters and not really a gentleman.  He more or less has to prove himself to the entire team, because nobody trusts him.  When it's really Dorian Gray who turns out to be the traitor, not Rodney Skinner, our invisible man has to save the day.  It's a nice touch how the team does a complete turnaround of his character.  He is trustworthy, after all.

    Tony gives the Invisible Man that bawdy attitude which is always funny.

Tony Curran

First Appearance of The Invisible Man:  The character of Rodney Skinner as the Invisible Man was created for this film.  The writers play off the fact that the original Invisible Man aka Hawley Griffin died and that this character stole his formula and became the next Invisible Man.  Skinner was the name of a landlord in the novel "The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells in 1897.  This is where the name, not the character, was derived for this film.  The story is set in London, England and in rural southern England.  H.G. Wells was English and lived from 1866-1946.

Tom Sawyer:
  Young adventurer, fearless, good marksman.  Played by Shane West.  The grown-up, trouble-making friend of Huckleberry Finn doesn't have any super abilities like the rest of the League.  He's a good marksman, but nowhere near the level of Allan Quatermain's ability.  Allan teaches him, though, and he gets better.  He is probably more fearless than any of the other members and surely a bit cocky.  He's young, a U.S. Marshal who pretty much falls into the League after trailing them for awhile.  Basically, he's the token young guy of the group.  He falls in love with Mina Harker, a vampiress, and has some life experiences under father-like Quatermain's tutelage.  When Allan dies at the end of the film, he passes the torch onto Tom Sawyer, who he sees as a much younger version of himself destined for a life of high adventure.  Shane West is actually one of the very few "young guy" actors from this decade that I think is a really good actor.

First Appearance of Tom Sawyer:  He first appeared in the novel "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain in 1876.  Tom's creator was American and lived from 1835-1910.  The story was set in St. Petersburg, Missouri in 1845.  It's not specified that the year was 1845, but many consider it so.  It's definitely set in the 1840s.  In 1899, when "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was set, Tom Sawyer would've been much older.  Take it with a grain of sand.  A twenty-something Tom Sawyer makes for a much cooler story.

The Villains

M, The Phantom, Moriarty:  Criminal mastermind.  Played by Richard Roxburgh.  All three of these characters is the same person:  Professor Moriarty, psychotic criminal mastermind and nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.  It is believed that Moriarty is dead.  He assumes the role of "M," the man in charge of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".  In fact, he made up the League just to set up our heroes; the League never really existed.  He also donned the disguise of "The Phantom", an ugly character with silver mask covering scarred face, long black hair, and whom we are lead to believe is German.  As the Phantom, he plotted to start a World War so he could get rich selling his weapons and, of course, have great power as a world leader.  We later learn that he is Professor Moriarty, the enemy of famed British detective Sherlock Holmes, who is still very much alive.  As M, we first think he is one of the good guys.  We find out he isn't.  Roxburgh does a good job playing all of these characters.  They're all just so darned evil!

Richard Roxburgh

First Appearance of Professor Moriarty:

Dorian Gray:  Immortal, expert swordsman.  Played by Stuart Townsend.  Long ago he made a deal with the devil for immortality.  He could live forever just so long as he never saw his own portrait.  His portrait aged while he didn't.  One look at the hideous painting would kill him.  He is an expert swordsman and very, very cocky.  In fact, he's more cocky than Tom Sawyer or the Invisible Man.  I know he's supposed to like women, as he has a fondness for Mina Harker, but he comes off very effeminent.  It makes for an interesting character; he just isn't too manly.  Townsend does a good job of making this character catty, but cool at the same time.  It's an interesting portrayal.  This character, like M, is also someone we think is a hero at first, but who turns out to be a traitor.

Stuart Townsend

First Appearance of Dorian Gray:  He first appeared in the novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.  This was Oscar Wilde's only novel, and the story originally appeared as a serial in an American magazine in 1890.  By 1891, the stories were compiled into a novel.  The story is set in London, England in 1890.  Dorian's creator, Oscar Wilde, was English and lived from 1854-1900.