Cinerama: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Mike Derderian

Lately, I haven’t been myself; the novice writer within me has been suffering from my own follies and blunders that are thankfully tolerated by my editor who often chides me in the most delicate way for being late in delivering whatever my mind has installed for you my dear readers.

To me inspiration is like a ship in the sea that slides on the turbulent surface of my brain cells, driven by brain storms that blows at its sails driving it towards the shores of safety. Sometimes, my ship stands in the middle of nowhere stranded as if I’m being punished for killing an Albatross.

My ship this week was navigated successfully through the treacherous sea with the help of my best friends, whom I went out with to the cinema a few nights ago.

Even though everyone of us is different from the other, while each has his own interpretation of life, this has never stood as an obstacle to our friendship that goes back to school days. Right after we all watched the movie together I realized that we are the league of extraordinary gentlemen.

What would happen if someone decided to take all the fictional classic characters that we read of and place them all together in one book, or in this case in a 2003 film production? Well the end result would be “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”

Imagine Jules Vern’s captain Nemo, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll/Mr Edward Hyde, Henry Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain, Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Herbert George wells’s invisible man and Bram Stoker’s Mina Harker, an all cast of literary characters found in one film combating evil.

To tell you the truth as I entered the theatre, I didn’t know what to expect until lights went out separating us from reality for two hours minus ten minutes. Through computer-generated graphics (CGI), we were allowed to travel back in time to the nineteenth century England, mainly London with its dark alleys and streets.

Stephan Norrington, through his imaginative direction managed to create a spectacular film, which had a dark comic book style presentation of the characters and this came as a result of it’s being based on a book written and drawn by Alan Moore and Kevin O’neill.

Casting Sean Connery as the undying Allan Quatermain whom we all read about in Haggard’s “King Solomn’s mines,” was an excellent choice for through Connery’s charismatic persona, we are truly convinced that he is the never aging great white hunter with a sharp eye and an excellent rifle.

Being in the lead rule Connery helped the rest of the cast like Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemying and Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo blend in easily with their characters.

The film is packed with colorful characters like Mina Harker (Wilson) one of the main characters taken from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In parallel to her dark and sensual character we have the sophisticated immortal Dorian Gray portrayed by Townsend. As for the evil antagonist the Phantom I won’t tell you from which classical book he was borrowed for then I would ruin the finale, however, remember the first impression is always wrong.

Last but not least we have two unique characters. One is the invisible man Skinner (Curran)— a character that formed the comic highlights in this work of fiction. The second is the vulnerable scientist Dr Jekyll (Flemyng), who has a destructive pop out character called Mr Hyde.

Through CGI visual effects the audience was able to see and almost feel the painful metamorphosis that Dr Jeckyll undergoes as he turns into the colossal Mr Hyde, whenever, he drinks his chemical potion, not to mention the way Skinner was designed and made animate.

A popular techniques used in film making nowadays is the use of anachronism on purpose—which is placing something in the wrong period of time. In this film we are introduced to amazing technologies that would never have existed back in that period of time.

Inventions that would only exist in the minds of a visionary writer called Jules Vern, the man who truly was ahead of his time. Most of Vern’s writings revolved around scientific inventions like in his novel “20,000 leagues under the sea” from which captain Nemo and his submarine “The Nautilus” were brought back into life.

On of the most exciting adrenaline pumping scenes in this film is when the LXG try to save Venice from the evil phantom who came up with a diabolic scheme to sink the aquatic city by planting thousands of bombs under it’s infra structure.

A brilliantly devised sequences that will make you wish if you’re right there in the middle the whole thing fighting against heavily armored men alongside the extraordinary gentlemen and a woman, especially in the car scene where we see Quatermain (Connery), Sawyer (West) and Harker driving in Nemo’s phantasmagoric invention through the crumbling buildings of Venice that are sinking into the ground while the evil men of the phantom fire highly advanced machine guns right at them.

Their objective is to reach a designated point where they can stop the chain of explosions by one of Nemo’s high tech missiles. Will they succeed or perish?

No fancy endings this time, just a plain fact that you should see it, which is why I tried not give away the film since it’s still warm out of the oven, so I’ll leave the whole pie for you to taste and if you want to see this extraordinary film just go to the theater, bon appétit

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