Monday, December 29, 2003

The extraordinariness of it all

Last night we watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The website is basic and can't decide whether it's Allan Quatermain or Quartermain, Dorian Gray or Grey. I hate that.

The movie was off to a great start, built on a fabulous premise, but somewhere along the way it got confusing, then boring.

Of course, now I must search out the graphic novel by Alan Moore upon which the film was based. I hate being one of those people who come upon books via blockbusters. I want to have known the book first. In this case, I did lay eyes and hands on the book some two years, courtesy of J-F's uncle, and I was intrigued, but I never followed through.

As such, I don't know whether my problems with the material generate with the moviemakers or whether they lie with the source text.

Allan Quatermain. I'm not familiar with this legend of a man. He seems a fitting leader.

Captain Nemo. I guess I'll have to read Verne to know if Nemo had kung fu in addition to science.

The Invisible Man. The movie features not the Invisible Man, as it seems the book does, but rather some thug who stole the formula. If Griffin was good enough for Moore's story, then why not for the movie?

Mina Harker. Since when is she a chemist? And why isn't her behaviour typical of vampire mythology? (She is out and about in daylight, and I believe she checks herself in a mirror.) And why do all the movie and book reviews spell her name "Minna" (did Moore do that?)?

Dorian Gray. Weird choice for a "hero." Weird. He says he's there amend for his wrongful ways. Not believable motivation. As for the later revealed real motivation, it simply doesn't make any sense. The guy's immortal — if someone has something he wants, he could walk right up and take it.

Tom Sawyer. Not among the league in the source text. Not a good idea to include him in the film. Necessary to embrace some Americanism? He sure don't talk like I thought he would. An' if I was the government, I wouldn't be lookin' to enlist the likes of 'im. Yet, according to the movie's official website, "the American government hunted him down... Tom's mission: to infiltrate the League." Huh. I watched the whole movie, and I didn't know that.

Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. Why is he in Paris? Quatermain when hunting him down makes reference to the string of as yet unexplained murders in the Rue Morgue. But those of us who have actually read Edgar Allan Poe know the culprit there to be an orangutan. (Apparently Dupin has a role in Moore's work, but I don't know in what context.)

As for our villain:

He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson.
He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city.
He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker.
He has a brain of the first order.
He sits motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them.
He does little himself.
He only plans.
But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized.


Sadly, little of this character actually shines through on film.

The first "incident" of the movie involves the theft of blueprints of Venice, an aid in boobytrapping a secret conference of world leaders. However, my understanding is that this secret conference was only called in response to the series of incidents set off by the circumstances surrounding the theft of the blueprints. Hmmm. Too, I'd think the conference attendees would be made aware of the threat to their meeting location and maybe reschedule. (From all I can deduce, the main plot point of the graphic novel is confined to London. I suppose the Venice setting showcased the Nautilus in ways London never could.)

Still, a nice literary jigsaw puzzle of a premise. Not at all ordinary.
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