The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, also known as LXG, is a 2003 superhero film, loosely based on the first volume of the comic book series of the same name. It was released on July 11, 2003 in the United States, was distributed by 20th Century Fox, 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 adventure film set late in the late 19th Century, featuring an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period, who act as Victorian Era superheroes. The film adaptation's plot and general atmosphere, however, is very far from the original comic book. The characters draw from creations by H. R. Haggard, Bram Stoker, Iam Fleming, H. G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Robert Lewis Stevenson, among many others.
The film was intended to spawn a franchise based on further titles in the original comic book series if the first film was financially successful. It was however critically panned, and a lack of enthusiasm for a sequel resulted in the film franchise idea being dropped.
In 1899, an attack on the Bank of England in London is committed by a group of men who appear to be German soldiers using advanced explosives and automatic weapons, and even the first ever tank. This is followed by an attack on a German Zeppelin factory in Berlin by the same men, this time dressed as British soldiers, that leads Europe to the brink of war. An emissary of the British government, Sanderson Reed, arrives in a gentlemen's club in British East Africa, hoping to recruit the legendary, but now aged, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) to investigate the situation. Though Quatermain's sense of patriotism has waned, he wishes to protect his beloved Africa from war and agrees, especially after his lodge is attacked and destroyed by a band of assassins.
In London, Quatermain meets with the mysterious "M", who explains his plan to assemble a modern version of a group of talented individuals known as the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", which aids the world in times of need, in this case to combat the threat of the "Fantom", who is the true mastermind of the current crisis, and ensure world peace, by stopping him from destroying Venice. Quatermain is introduced to the Indian Captain Nemo, Commander of the world's only submersible vessel Nautilus; invisible gentleman thief Rodney Skinner, who works for the government in hopes of an antidote for the invisibility serum he stole; and Mina Harker, a vampire and well-regarded chemical scientist. The group also recruits the mysterious immortal Dorian Gray, Dr. Henry Jekyll (who can transform into the superhumanly strong Edward Hyde under the effects of a special elixir), and American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer; in Hyde's case, he has to be hunted down by Quatermain and Sawyer before Jekyll offers his services for a reprieve of his crimes as Hyde.
With the team complete, the group takes off on Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, and set off for Venice. The group worry there is a traitor in their midst when flash powder is found in the wheel room of the Nautilus, and a vial of Jekyll's transformation serum is determined to be missing. Naturally, all think that the invisible thief, Skinner, is the culprit, but nothing can be done about it since Skinner is nowhere to be found.
Though the group reaches Venice in time, a series of bombs that has been planted under the city start to detonate shortly after, toppling buildings in a domino effect. The team decides that knocking one of the buildings out of the sequence is the only way to stop the chain of explosions. Nemo has a missile that can be fired from the Nautilus at the building in question, but only if a beacon can be set in place. Since Nemo can track his "automobile," allowing it to serve as the beacon, Sawyer drives the car past the chain of explosions, as Gray and Mina disembark to fight the Fantom's henchmen. Quatermain, meanwhile, notices and gives chase to the Fantom on foot. During the chase, the Fantom is unmasked and revealed to be M, who then escapes. At the same time, Sawyer crashes the car into the target building, while firing a flare, which signals Nemo to launch his missile. The building is destroyed, the chain of explosions stops, and Venice is saved.
The League regroups at the Nautilus, where Quatermain reveals that M is behind everything. Nemo's first mate, Ishmael, also reveals that Gray, not Skinner, is the traitor, as he had been mortally shot by Gray, who escapes in an exploration pod. Nemo sets the Nautilus in pursuit, but a record is found from M and Gray, revealing that the League was a ruse so that M could steal physical elements from each of the League members, so as to construct an army of super-powered soldiers: Captain Nemo's science and technology, Jekyll's formula, Mina's blood, and a sample of Skinner's invisible skin; Quatermain was merely used to capture Hyde. M seeks to profit by starting a world war and selling armaments and weaponry based on the powers of the League to the combatant countries. As the record is played, it also releases a second, high-frequency signal which sets off three bombs in the ship, but Hyde is able to stop the ship from sinking.
Following a signal from Skinner, who had stowed away on Gray's vessel before he escaped, the Nautilus follows to the Asiatic Arctic, and the League travels to a cave overlooking an industrial fortress. Skinner meets with the group (who then apologizes to him for falsely condemning him as the traitor) there, and tells them that M has a number of scientists and their families held as hostages and slaves in his munitions factory, where the new weapons are being constructed. Splitting up, the League infiltrates the factory. Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families, Sawyer and Quatermain go after M, Mina goes in search of Gray, and Skinner sets off to plant some explosives to destroy the factory.
Nemo and Hyde run into M's second-in-command, Dante, who drinks a very large dose of Jekyll's formula and transforms into a gigantic, hulking monster to combat Hyde. Mina fights a stalemate battle with Gray; little is accomplished as they are both immortal, until she confronts him with the enchanted portrait of himself. When he sets eyes upon the painting, he ages rapidly, dies, and decays. Quatermain confronts M in his lair and reveals his deduction that M is none other than the supposedly dead Professor James Moriarty, nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. As the explosives go off, Nemo and Jekyll manage to escape the building through a small hole in the wall, while Dante, being far too large to fit, is crushed to death by falling debris. Quatermain, about to kill Moriarty, sees Sawyer being held at knifepoint and chooses to save Sawyer at the cost of being stabbed himself. Sawyer is forced to use the marksmanship skills that Quatermain had taught him, and manages to kill a fleeing Moriarty before he can leave in his stolen submersible vessel. Quatermain dies soon after, telling Sawyer that the new century belongs to him now.
The League assembles in Africa to bury Quatermain. As the group departs, a tribal witch doctor takes handfuls of dirt from Quatermain's grave and begins a ritual chant. We are reminded of a witch doctor's pronouncement, recounted by Quatermain at the beginning of the movie, that Africa would not let Quatermain die. The earth shakes violently, making the rifle that Sawyer had left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes Quatermain's grave right before the screen cuts to black.
|Sean Connery||Allan Quatermain|
|Naseeruddin Shah||Captain Nemo|
|Peta Wilson||Mina Harker|
|Tony Curran||Rodney Skinner|
|Stuart Townsend||Dorian Gray|
|Shane West||Tom Sawyer|
|Jason Flemyng||Dr. Henry Jekyll / Edward Hyde|
|Richard Roxburgh||The Fantom / "M" / Professor James Moriarty|
|Tom Goodman-Hill||Sanderson Reed|
|Rudolf Pellar||Karl Draper|
|Robert Willox||Constable Dunning|
The original film included a character named Eva Draper (played by Winter Ave Zoli), who was the daughter of German scientist Karl Draper. She was cut from the film but remained in the promotional material. She appeared in two scenes. The first scene was cut from the film, while in the second she was digitally replaced by another character. A brief fight scene featuring Sawyer and the replacement character was rotoscoped into the movie, which took West by surprise.
Connery had many disputes with the director. Norrington did not attend the opening party. When asked where the director could be, Connery said, "Check the local asylum." Norrington reportedly did not like the studio supervision and was "uncomfortable" with large crews.
For the script, the character "The Invisible Man" was changed to "An Invisible Man" since Fox was unable to obtain the rights to that character. A Fu Manchu character was also dropped from the script. At Fox's request, the character of Tom Sawyer was added to the film so it could appeal to American audiences and give the movie some "youth appeal." Producer Don Murphy, who described the request as a "stupid studio note," later stated that the move to add Sawyer was "brilliant."
The studio put pressure on the filmmakers so it could be released in the summer. Some people at Fox wanted it to be released in the fall, but the Los Angeles Times reported that Fox already had Master and Commander lined up for the fall. The production ran into some trouble when a special effects set did not pan out as intended, forcing the filmmakers to have to quickly look for another effects shop.
Connery was paid $17 million USD for his role in the film. This left the filmmakers without much money to attract other big-name stars for the ensemble cast.
In an interview with The Times, O’Neill said he believed that the film failed because it was not respectful to the source material. He did not recognize the characters when reading the screenplay. He also said that Norrington and Connery did not get along. Finally, O'Neill said that the comic book version of Allan Quatermain was a lot better than the movie version.
The Cast of Characters vs. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen lawsuit involved Larry Cohen and Martin Poll filing a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming the company had intentionally plagiarized a script of theirs entitled Cast of Characters in order to create this film. According to the BBC, the lawsuit alleged "that Mr Cohen and Mr Poll pitched the idea to Fox several times between 1993 and 1996, under the name the Cast of Characters."
The lawsuit alleged that Fox had solicited the comics series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from Moore as a "smokescreen" for their intent to produce a movie plagiarizing Cast of Characters. It also claimed that both films shared similar public domain characters, including Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray, characters who did not appear in the comic book series. Although Fox dismissed the lawsuit as "absurd nonsense", the case was ultimately settled out-of-court, a decision which Moore, according to the New York Times "took ... as an especially bitter blow, believing that he had been denied the chance to exonerate himself."
Critical reaction to the film was generally negative, garnering a 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 166 reviews and a score of 30 out of 100 on Metacritic based on thirty-six reviews. Empire magazine gave it two stars out of five whilst criticizing the film's expository dialogue and lack of character depth, saying it 'flirts dangerously close with one-star ignominy'.
Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill also criticized and rejected the film. O'Neill stated that the characters were unrecognizable to their comic book counterparts, particularly referring to Mina Murray's radical status as a vampire, and ultimately concluded that the film failed because of its failure to follow the source material. Alan Moore initially agreed not to see the film (to date he has not watched any film adaptation of his works) but to wish it well while profiting from it, though following LXG he would cut his ties to Hollywood altogether, refusing credit and royalties for the subsequent film adaptations of Constantine, V for Vendetta and Watchmen.
- Allan Quatermain
- Henry Jekyll
- Mina Harker
- Dorian Gray
- Tom Sawyer
- Rodney Skinner
- James Moriarty
- Sanderson Reed
- Edgar Shreave
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Jack the Ripper
- Valkyrie Zeppelin Works
- St Mark's Basilica
- The Britannia Club
- James Moriarty's fortness
- United Kingdom
- Bank of England
- Dorian Gray's house
- Mina's scarf
- Hyde formula
- Dorian Gray's portrait
DVD Sales & Rentals
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen earned a total of $48,640,000 in rentals with $14,810,000 from Video rentals and $33,830,000 from DVD Rentals. DVD sales meanwhile gathered revenue of $36,400,000. 
A novelization of the movie was written by Kevin J. Anderson and released shortly before the movie.
The soundtrack album was also released internationally but not in the United States.
- "Movies; Hungary plans huge studio, luring film world :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles, Calif.] 4 Jun 2004,E.13. Los Angeles Times.
- Bill Desowitz. "Movies; Bonds, James Bonds; Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan: 007s who've saved the world in her majesty's service :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. 17 Nov. 2002,E.6. Los Angeles Times.
- STUART CAMERON. "HAS SEAN MADE HIS LAST MOVIE? ; Mystery as 007 legend quits film role :[SCOTS Edition]. " The Daily Mirror [London (UK)] 30 Sep. 2004,9.
- John Horn. "Heroic effort?; Audiences are the last hurdle for a beleaguered 'League.' :[HOME EDITION]. " Los Angeles Times. 14 Jul 2003,E.1. Los Angeles Times
- Interview with The Times http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article5767132.ece
- "Gentlemen lands Fox in $100m lawsuit", Saturday, September 27, 2003. Calcutta Telegraph.
- "Producer and Writer File $100 Million Lawsuit Against 20th Century-Fox", September 25, 2003. Business Wire. Archived on 2008-05-28.
- Template:Cite web Archived on 2008-05-16.
- Barber, Nicholas, "Notices: Cinema opening this week". The Independent on Sunday (London); Oct 26, 2003; p. 39
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