A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie contains strong violence, a great deal of peril, and deaths enough for a more restrictive rating. Nameless characters are killed in every manner of way, from the traditional (flame-throwers, guns and explosions) to the supernatural, including the unwanted attentions of a vampire. There are some sexual references as well as sexuality between characters.
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What's the story?
Based on the comic book/graphic novel series by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN is about a team of iconic adventurers from 19th century English literature who are members of a "League" imbued with the task of protecting England. In this movie, Mysterious "M" (thought by the comic book characters to be Sherlock Holmes' older brother, Mycroft Holmes) recruits individuals with special abilities to protect England from a master criminal. These individuals are harvested from the writings of a rich crop of authors from H.G. Wells' "Invisible Man" to Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Where vampire hunter Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) is the leader of this band of "gentlemen" in the graphic novel, great white hunter, Allen Quartermain (Sean Connery) is given the task in the movie. The group--once assembled--track the mysterious "Phantom", a man who looks like a cross between Genghis Khan and the Phantom of the Opera, to stop him before he can realize his goal of starting a global war.
Is it any good?
This film takes the graphic novel as a start, drains it of its quirky, prim Victorian tone, turns the characters more Hollywood, and leaves the audience on their own to find something to like. Director Stephen Norrington, best known for his vampire movie Blade, and writer James Dale Robinson throw in unnecessary tweaks and additions. The dark ambiance and low-lit sets rob the colorful comic book settings of everything but their two-dimensionality, and multi-layered action style--splicing scenes into a visual barrage of images—turn fight scenes with many protagonists into an unimpressive jumble. Pat little biographical descriptions clog the flow of the story and talk down to the audience. All of these additions leave a potentially extraordinary film drowned in a cloying soup of mediocrity.
On the bright side, the movie has potential and originality, with familiar legends placed together in an interesting situation. The rich, imaginative fantasy that the idea of this movie represents is ambitious and intriguing. It is a pity that the story does not realize even a fair share of what it could be, but it is entertaining and each of the characters deserves a second look, which is an extraordinary quality for any action movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: July 11, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: December 16, 2003
- Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Sean Connery
- Director: Stephen Norrington
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of fantasy violence, language and innuendo
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.