The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen DVD Review

Cover Art & Menu: 5/10
Boring, blah, uninspired, uninteresting, and every other word that rings of dull, that would be how I describe this cover and menu design. The cover has the lead characters lined up nicely while the menu is a looped video of clips from the movie with a small non-descript group of links at the bottom. The lack of effort on this menu is really too bad since the movie is actually pretty good. I hope that graphic designers who work on DVD’s in the future will try to give some thought to how they should be tying the design of the DVD in with the experience of watching the movie.

Extras & Features: 7/10

  • First commentary by Jackie West, Steve Johnson, John Sullivan, Ian Hunter & Matthew Gratzner and second Commentary by Trevor Albert, Peta Wilson, Jason Flemying, Tony Curran and Shane West – Commentaries are a wonderful thing. I love to hear any extra info that is offered up in the discussion. Steve Johnson, with his perpetually blocked sinuses, talks about the origins of the story and how he took some liberties with the characters and their individual legends. Some of the performers talk about what it’s like to work with Sean Connery, mostly intimidation and fear, but ultimately they all seem to enjoy it after the initial shock of working with the Scottish icon.
  • Making-Of Featurette – This is a good docu-feature, but it’s way to brief. For all that this movie brings to the screen, I would love to have tons more background information about the characters, their legends and how they all came to be who they are. I would love to have had an extra docu-feature that focused on the authors of each novel in which the extraordinary folks became celebrated  fictional history figures. As for the positives of this Making-Of Featurette, it does show the huge undertaking of making Hyde a real life creature rather than CGI. It also shows how they used miniatures to create most of the special effects that are quite stunning. These two things redeem this bonus material somewhat, but it’s still just not enough to feed my hunger for more more more more behind the scenes stuff.
  • 12 Deleted Scenes – A few extended version of scenes that are in the movie don’t really do much for me. I appreciate the effort, but in the end, these are not very valuable to fill in any gaps in the finished product. They didn’t polish the scenes so the special effects are not there to finish off the look of each deleted scene.

Movie: 8/10
I’m not a reader of history novels, heck I’m not much of a reader at all. Admittedly I should have read all those assigned books back in college, but I didn’t. So, what do I do, I watch movies to fill in the gaps. Did you roll your eyes at the last comment? I don’t blame you. I will make an effort to read more, I promise. However, in the meantime I shall continue my education on such literary matters by watching flicks like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Tom Sawyer makes an appearance, as the token American legend. Allen Quartermain, the adventurer and treasure hunter is the leader of the pack. Mina Harker, wife of the ill-fated Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, takes her place as the sexy scientist/vampire. Captain Nemo, creator and chief of the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a strong figure of a man. He does not draw a gun but rather uses martial arts and sword wielding skills to fight his foes. I’m not clear about Nemo’s past, but it is eluded to that he has been a pirate and maybe not done some very nice things before he meets up with the League. Never mind a tainted past though, all of our heroes have flaws, some bigger than others.

Dr. Jekyll lurks in the darkness of his mind as his alter ego Mr. Hyde terrorizes the rooftops of Paris only to be reluctantly captured and drawn into the league. A Mr. Hyde that is different from what we conventionally think of when we imagine the dual personalities of the scientist. His bulk, almost hulkish (but without the crappy CGI and green skin) makes his physical presence so much more powerful than simply adding some evil eye brows and ugly teeth to the actor. They worked very hard to develop a full body suit that would look believable, and I truly think it works extremely well. I like the Dr. Jekyll story, I always have. The idea that a meek mannered man has to concoct a formula to let out the beast within because he is too afraid to express himself as himself. It’s a classic self loathing story that appeals to me for some reason. I would say I’m biased and that I enjoyed seeing Jekyll as part of this motley crew.

What is conventional anyway? I think of the invisible man as a tortured soul who wanders around with a bitter cynical attitude, angry at the world for what he has become. Why do I think that? Who knows. I like the invisible man in this movie, he’s a smart ass. He’s quick with a one liner (which I normally despise) and ends up being somewhat comical. I liked his persona to a degree only because it was not what I expected and surprises in movies are usually a very good thing these days. There are too many conventional characters, too much expected dialogue and not enough originality.

What menace is big enough, dangerous enough, threatening enough to bring these talented folks together? That is for you to find out you watch the film, but I will say it’s one of those bigger than life, conquer the world kind of things. Conquering the world, or at least dominating it one way or another is not a new way for the bad guys to get their rocks off, but when you pull elements from these amazing historic novels you get something exciting, interesting, and more innovative twists to any diabolical plans that are drummed up by the darker characters of our literary past.

I really liked this movie. I know it has it’s flaws, so what. The special effects were excellent. The characters are wonderful and brought to us through somewhat basic, but convincing performances by the cast. I especially enjoyed Captain Nemo and his calm demeanor, not to mention his fantastic Nautilus. Now THAT is a submarine! Even as it’s squeezing through the canals of Venice I’m convinced that it’s 100% real, bigger than life. I’m a sucker for big machinery.

Look for adventure, look for fun, look for some exciting scenes, and expect a lot of obscure references, this movie has all that and more. I’m a bit biased I suppose. I have to admit that I think the whole concept is brilliant. To take these Victorian “hero” types and put them together is just such a great idea. I vow to read more, learn more and to study up more on the classics. Not because a movie brought them to my attention, but because of their amazing stories. A man who is eternally youthful whose vices and age only affect a painting of him, now that’s a cool story. As his portrait image decays and becomes more and more horrific, he remains young, never suffering the effects of his actions or of the passing years. Dorian Grey is the man in the story and in the movie they have taken it to another level making him immortal, impervious to harm, very cool.

Value: 6/10
Take the time to rent this one but I don’t recommend buying the DVD. I was disappointed with the extras and there are the occasional artifact’s. The blockies that happen on some DVD’s can be the result of specs required by the studio, so the author is not responsible. I have been informed that because of a lack luster response to the movie in the US the studio probably opted to do the DVD as inexpensively as possible. The people who did the DVD did a great job with what they had to work with. It’s a great flick to have fun with, but unless they bring out a special edition for the US (like they have done in other countries), I would say make a trip to Blockbuster or surf to Netflix instead of adding this release to your collection just yet.

Overall Score 7/10