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'Intellectually insulting 'League' anything but extraordinary

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' -- PG-13

I will be the first to admit that a good movie does not need to be intellectually stimulating, but then again, one should not expect to see a show like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and emerge more on the stupid side than before the movie started.

In the months before the dawn of the 20th Century, the world is facing a massive war, brought upon by terrorist attacks by a masked villain/arms dealer named the Fantom (not a typo). To combat this, a functionary in the British Empire called M (Richard Roxburgh) has assembled a team of individuals culled from Victorian Literature to head off the Fantom's plans.

The roster reads: Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery), expert hunter/adventurer; invisible thief Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran); inventor Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah); vampire Mina Harker (Peta Wilson); unstable Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde (Jason Flemyng); immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend); and American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West).

In a fantastical series of explosions, chases and drawn-out scenes of tedium, the so-called "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" travels from Paris to Venice, to an industrial complex in Mongolia, in hope of averting war. Coming into the movie, I was familiar with all of the characters (except for Quatermain) through their original medium (not the graphic novel from which this was adapted), and, to be succinct, I was appalled by the butchery of these great literary figures that was committed within the movie.

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The biggest atrocities come in the characters of Dorian Gray (who, in Wilde's work, was not immortal, just morally corrupt and youthful) and Mr. Hyde (more of a psychological transformation, according to Stevenson, and to be sure, Hyde did not miraculously grow to the size of a small house).

Perhaps I could be more forgiving if logic had not been tossed out the window. In the first half of the movie, one can see: an automobile race through the streets of Venice (and there really are not major streets in that fair city), a five-story submarine negotiate the Venetian canals (which are certainly not deep enough for the Nautilus), the same submarine, which, on the outside appears to be blade-thin, but, according to the film, is large enough to approximate a cruise liner on the inside.

I could go on and on, but then I'd get too worked up. Perhaps as a concession, I can say that the acting is decent, but looking back, I can safely assume that this was one of Connery's last appearances as the lead in an action film -- the dude is getting old and it shows.

I can put up with most movies, but when one that is mediocre to begin with assumes the temerity to insult my intelligence, that is unforgivable. Director Stephen Norrington should be severely chastised for this effort (or lack thereof). For being insulting and seat-twistingly bad, this movie gets a big fat zero.

Andrew Howard is a graduate at Rochester Lourdes High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail to teenbeat@postbulletin.com.

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