Movies on the Brain: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Watched: 12/9/03

I’m not completely sure what to expect of this movie. On the one hand, I enjoy the occasional mindless action/adventure spectacle. On the other, I tend to be a snob when it comes to taking well-known characters from other sources and completely butchering their established personalities. Pieces I’ve read on this movie lead me to believe this fits in both of those categories, so I’m a little wary starting this one up.

Thank goodness for Fox DVDs. I can skip right over all the FBI warnings by hitting the “Next” button on my DVD player. Every time I see these I think of Jay Leno’s old bit about the FBI waiting outside the window – “We don’t move until he hits ‘Record’”. This may have been the last funny thing Jay Leno said and that was 18 to 20 years ago.

00:01 – Gotta love how the 20th Century Fox morphs to become the top of the factory in the opening shot. Only problem is I think this is the same factory design used in Leonard Part 6. RIP Gloria Foster.

00:03 – Of course the bad guys are Germans. Can you imagine how dry the well of stock bad cultures would be if Germans had the lobbying power of other ethnicities? Without whole groups that can be labeled as “bad”, all villains in books/films/television shows would have to be Blofeld types where you never really see their true identities. Speaking of Blofeld, “Who loves you baby?”

00:04 – Apparently the evil mastermind is Destro. I didn’t think much of the new G.I. Joe: Spy Troops cartoon movie, but being a geek I had to check it out. Watching the original cartoons on DVD is much better and not just because of nostalgia. They actually hold up pretty well. I admit they’re corny as hell, but…Ok, now I’ve lost it.

00:05 – Wide shot of the African plains. How did I ever think The Gods Must Be Crazy? was funny? Dude walking around worshipping a Coke bottle? Was this made before product placement in movies became the big thing? Did anyone like New Coke better than Classic? Would they admit it?

00:06 – RIP David Hemmings. I definitely need to re-watch Last Orders, which is a fantastic little movie.

00:08 – Two uses of the word “regal” inside of 60 seconds. May be a new record.

00:09 – I would have loved to see the film portray Allan Quartermain as the opium addict he apparently was in the comic. I now have to cop to never having read the League of… comic book. Two demerits for me.

00:13 – Third time and date stamp in the movie. Apparently we’re going to have these every time more than 15 minutes pass in the movie. May as well keep a little clock or calendar in the corner of the screen. Are the network logos that all TV networks now put on their shows the most annoying thing since Yahoo Serious? I tend to think yes.

00:14 – Did anyone really have the huge kinds of libraries that are always depicted in movies? I can believe monasteries and museums, but we always see them in ordinary people’s houses. It’s like set designers use this as a cheap way to establish “Upper Class Victorian”.

00:19 – Ishmael has just been introduced as Captain Nemo’s first mate. I can’t think of Ishmael without thinking of that Far Side cartoon where Herman Melville has crossed out rejected opening sentences. I really want that new Far Side hardbound collection. I’m a geek.

00:20 – East London, 1899 – Slightly past supper time but not yet time for dessert.

00:23 – Sean Connery says he was blessed by a witch doctor and I’m thinking, well sure after you went to the rainforest and cured cancer that was the least he could do.

00:26 – Did we need a cocky American character? I hate feeling insulted by movies or their makers and being told that inclusion of Tom Sawyer was the only way American audiences would connect with the story does just that.

00:27 – Mina uses a mirror? Come on. In Dracula it was established vampires could move about in daytime but he still couldn’t see his reflection. At least stay true to the rules of the universe you’re drawing from.

00:33 – Paris, 1899 – 1:19 A.M. and all’s well.

00:35 – Peta Wilson does her best Sean Connery voice. Sorry, but the award for Best Sean Connery Impersonation Within A Movie still goes to Alec Baldwin in Hunt for Red October. “Remember Ryan, some things in here don’t react too well to bullets”.

00:39 – I love shots of people standing on the outside of boats where you can see the perfectly still water next to the dry dock the actors are standing on. Isn’t this why movies have special effects budgets? For the most egregious example of this, please see the first Hot Shots!

00:42 – Was this movie just put together out of remnants of other Sean Connery movies? We have a submarine (Hunt for Red October). We have a character named M (Bond series). We have the assembling of a team (Untouchables). Fighting Germans (Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade). I’m now waiting for the writers to work in some equivalent to Finding Forrester. “You the man now, dawg”.

00:44 – Just about 45 minutes in and we’re almost out of exposition land.

00:47 – Kali, the same deity from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom makes an appearance. I hope this means someone is going to get his or her heart ripped out. Less then an hour into this movie and I kind of hope that someone is me.

00:50 – Best vampire story? Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the book, not Coppola’s movie) is the obvious choice. I also want to say “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. I read the first few parts of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles in college and found them interesting. The last few were just fucking weird, though. Every other page was devoted to some form of man-love and very little time was spent expanding the vampire mythology she had developed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

00:51 – Finally figured out who Mr. Hyde reminds me of – Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. Great. Now I’m going to visualizing him saying things like “So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here”.

00:52 – Another location stamp. Venice. What? No year? How will I ever know how much time has passed? My God I’m lost! Please movie take me by the hand!

00:55 – It has been at least two or three years since I went to a fireworks display. We’ll probably start going again when our kids are older. You need to see that through a child’s eyes.

00:58 – Good thing Mr. Hyde wasn’t driving Capt. Nemo’s car. Would have driven it right into the back of a manure truck.

1:02 – Seymour Skinner on the “Simpson’s” is, in my opinion an under-appreciated character. He has had loads of development but I bet he isn’t in most fans’ top 10 lists.

1:05 – Can I admit that I fell asleep during The Abyss? At the theater no less. I don’t even remember being particularly tired, but that movie just put me out. I appreciate it more now but at the time I thought it was the most boring thing ever filmed.

1:10 – I keep waiting for Sean Connery to lead the crew of the Nautilus in the Russian national anthem. Couldn’t they have cast Sam Neill as an extra who just happens to bump into Connery in a hallway? I don’t ask for much.

1:15 – The visual device of using a line moving on a map to show the movement of characters really should have been retired after the Indiana Jones trilogy. How is it I don’t own that DVD box set yet? Where are my priorities? Oh yeah – wife and children. Still…

1:22 – I don’t think Lucas used this much CGI in Attack of the Clones. Eyes starting to blur. Pixar could have done this movie.

1:30 – The prospect of nuclear war has never been the same for me since seeing Fail Safe. I’m not talking about the errant pilot or President bombing New York. I’m talking about Walter Matthau saying convicts and file clerks will survive because concrete and stacks of paper, respectively, will act as insulators. The thought of Snake from the “Simpson’s” and Peter Gibbons fighting it out to rebuild humanity should give us all a moments pause.

1:34 – Ask most people what Alan Rickman’s best line as a villain was and they will probably quote Die Hard. Right up there, though is a line from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. When asked why he wants Robin’s heart carved out with a spoon he simply replies “Because it’s DULL, you twit, it’ll hurt more”. That also gets the award for Best Line in An Otherwise Horrible Movie.

1:38 – Just shoot the fucker. You don’t need to aim for thirty seconds when he’s three yards in front of you! As a side note, all movies about making movies should be required to use the line “Let’s shoot this fucker”. This should be in the Constitution. I’m not even kidding.

Parting thoughts – A disappointment. Took a premise, which at the same is very literary as well as very comic bookish and turned it into a cliché-ridden quip fest. Not a horrible movie, but not one I’m going to rush into seeing again simply because I don’t think I’d be able to stand it.