Shane West and Sean Connery star in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, directed by Stephen Norrington for 20th Century Fox.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003, Stephen Norrington)

There’s no doubt Stephen Norrington’s a lousy director but he’s not atrocious enough someone should retire from acting because he or she had to work with him–and Sean Connery didn’t even get the worst scenes in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s a stunt casting of Connery and, when compared to the source material–it’s no surprise, but he’s really against good character work. He refused to let them write the character as anything other than an aged Indiana Jones.

The scenes with him and Shane West–West isn’t bad, but he’s not charismatic enough for the role; he’s sturdy and unexciting–play like a May-September bromance. In fact, when West shows romantic interest in Peta Wilson, it’s almost strange, because his character is so asexual.

Besides the two of them, Tony Curran and Jason Flemyng, the acting’s pretty atrocious in the film. Wilson’s awful, Stuart Townsend seems to be doing a (really bad) Johnny Depp impression, Naseeruddin Shah–and it’s not clear if it’s intentional–totally lacks personality.

The special effects range from bad video game quality–the car chase through Venice is awful and almost comical, it must have looked hilarious on a big screen–to tolerable. For whatever reason, the film has more success with Flemyng’s Dr. Hyde than, say, Ang Lee’s Hulk had with its CG creation.

And while Norrington is British, it feels like he doesn’t really get the possibilities of the concept. Worst, I suppose, are James Robinson’s one liners. They bomb.



Directed by Stephen Norrington; screenplay by James Robinson, based on the comic book by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill; director of photography, Dan Laustsen; edited by Paul Rubell; music by Trevor Jones; production designer, Carol Spier; produced by Don Murphy and Trevor Albert; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Sean Connery (Allan Quatermain), Naseeruddin Shah (Captain Nemo), Peta Wilson (Mina Harker), Tony Curran (Rodney Skinner), Stuart Townsend (Dorian Gray), Shane West (Tom Sawyer), Jason Flemyng (Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde), Richard Roxburgh (M) and Tom Goodman-Hill (Sanderson Reed).


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