am 26. Juni 2017
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN [2003 / 2007] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] An Exciting Special-Effects All Action Extravaganza!
Steve Norrington's film, based on the graphic novels of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, brings together several literary characters from the Victorian era to prevent “The Fantom” threat to launch global Armageddon. It is 1899 the legendary Hunter/Adventurer Allan Quatermain [Sean Connery] is summoned from Africa by the British Government to head a team of men with extraordinary abilities. The team includes Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde [Jason Flemyng], Dorian Gray [Stuart Townsend], Captain Nemo [Naseeruddin Shah], vampire Mina Harker [Peta Wilson], Tom Sawyer [Shane West] and invisible man Rodney Skinner [Tony Curran] to form The League. Their assignment is to track down the infamous “The Fantom,” but the catch is that they only have 9 hours before he plans to sabotage the peace conference in Vienna. Now, they must join forces to save the world!
FILM FACT: Principal photography took place in Hungary, Malta, and the Czech Republic. Sean Connery was paid $17 million Dollars for his role, which left the filmmakers little money to attract other big-name stars for the ensemble cast. The production ran into trouble when a special effects set did not pan out as intended, forcing the filmmakers to have to quickly look for another effects shop. It was intended to spawn a film franchise based on further titles in the original comic book series but there was little enthusiasm for a sequel. The film marked Sean Connery's last on-screen film appearance before his retirement.
Cast: Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Max Ryan, Tom Goodman-Hill, David Hemmings, Terry O'Neill, Rudolf Pellar, Robert Willox, Robert Orr, Michael McGuffie, Joel Kirby, Marek Vasut, Ewart James Walters, Michal Grün, Robert Vahey, Sylvester Morand, Mariano Titanti, Huggy Leaver, Pavel Bezdek, Stanislav Adamickij, James Babson, San Shella, Ellen Savaria, Riz Meedin, Sartaj Garewal, Neran Persaud, Andrew Rajan, Daniel Brown, Aftab Sachak, Guy Singh, Harmage Singh Kalirai, Brian Caspe, Robert Goodman, Rene Hajek, Semere-Ab Etmet Yohannes and Winter Ave Zoli (uncredited)
Director: Stephen Norrington
Producers: Bruce Devan, Don Murphy, Mark Gordon, Michael Nelson, Rick Benattar, Sean Connery and Trevor Albert
Screenplay: James Dale Robinson (screenplay), Alan Moore (comic books) and Kevin O'Neill (comic books)
Composer: Trevor Jones
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen (Director of Photography)
Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by DeLuxe]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HT Master Audio and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Finish, Norwegian, Swedish and English
Running Time: 110 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’  film finds a secret group of super-powered characters from Victorian literature who brought together in saving the world under the banner of Rule Britannia. ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ is certainly has a pitch that grabs your attention, and throttles it into submission, at least via the screenplay by James Dale Robinson. The premise scores points for ingenuity, where in a parallel universe, 19th century Britain harbours a shadowy group of superheroes torn from the pages of Victorian literature.
‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ film gives us wacky ideas that do not get any wackier than the one behind the scenario of ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.’ Originally from a graphic novel co-written by Alan Moore, where we get a Victorian counter-factual adventure, or make that counter-fictional adventure that is set in 1899; and here we have an evil kingpin called Professor James Moriarty or “M” [The Fantom] that stars Richard Roxburgh and is stirring up trouble, so a sort of A-Team of super good-guys are assembled to muster up and to defeat him.
Executive producer Sean Connery plays Allan Quatermain, and there is Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula, Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde, Mark Twain's grown-up Tom Sawyer, Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray and Rodney Skinner, a new "serialized" character from H.G. Wells's novel “The Invisible Man” where the original presumably being the only one not yet quite out of copyright. Vampiress Mina Harker is allowed to swoop around biting people, though apparently without turning them into vampires too; Edward Hyde is a bizarrely bulbous and non-scary Hulk, to distinguish him from the essentially similar Dorian Gray who is given the extra superpower of indestructibility.
Positive elements: Each of the flawed personalities in this so-called ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ film needs some kind of personal redemption, where they mostly find it through teamwork and self-sacrifice. Captain Nemo refers to his pirate days and high-seas larceny as "old wrongs." Allan Quatermain confesses to vanity, pride and a history of costly mistakes, and saving his life at a very personal risk. To save the submarine and its crew, Dr. Henry Jekyll willingly enters what could be a watery grave. Bad guys' greed and lust for power ends in their destruction, both at personal and corporate levels. At a time before civil rights and racial equality, Allan Quatermain makes it a point to say of his dangerous lifestyle, "I've lost friends-white men and black." Dr. Henry Jekyll's internal struggle demonstrates the virtue of and need for self-control and when he realises that his transformation serum has been stolen by the enemy, he will do whatever it takes to keep society from reaping the whirlwind, and comments "I will not let my evil infect the world."
Spiritual content: An African witch doctor performs a ritual over a grave, and it is implied that the person will be resurrected. Captain Nemo kneels before a statue of Kali, the Indian god of death, where Mina asks if it's wise to go into battle with a man who "worships death." Allan Quatermain says that a witch doctor blessed him once and told him that Africa would never let him die.
Sexual content: The smouldering sensuality inherent to vampire lore surrounds Mina Harker and her identity is first revealed when she turns on an attacker and feasts on his neck, wiping blood from her mouth and licking her lips in ecstasy. In spite of witnessing this display, the men in the group vie for her affection. Dorian Gray has a sexual history with Mina Harker and then they kiss before eventually squaring off in a battle of immortals. Their vicious engagement is set in a bedroom, which leads to some very modern innuendo. The Invisible Man Rodney Skinner touches Mina Harker inappropriately and jokes about frostbitten body parts and the fact that he is naked.
Violent content: The action violence is so incessant that it's numbing. It's impossible to detail all of it. Machine-gunfire, explosions, knife fights, fist fights, sword fights and more. Men are stabbed or shot at close range, some have their necks snapped and one hero takes a dagger in the back. Allan Quatermain impales a man on a mounted rhino's horn and it goes in his back and comes out of his chest. When Dorian Gray is riddled with bullets, his wounds heal automatically, but other victims aren't so lucky. The bodies really pile up, especially where a man is engulfed by a blowtorch, Edward Hyde tosses men around like rag dolls, and is contorted painfully as he's transformed back to Dr. Henry Jekyll. A policeman is run down by a tank. A man holding a knife to Mina Harker's throat has the tables turned on him when she goes for his throat, killing him and sucking his blood. The City of Venice endures widespread destruction and a man is quickly reduced to an emaciated skeleton. Then we have a duel between Dorian Gray and Mina Harker where each are stabbing each other with swords. When a villain gulps down Dr. Henry Jekyll's formula, he turns into an über over the top Edward Hyde who creates a swath of destruction, to the point of trying to stab people with a giant icicle before being crushed to death. All in all this part of the film you will experience an amazing battle of gargantuan proportions, which really shows off the special effects really well as well having all your speakers get a good workout to great effect.
I really enjoyed most of the film, especially Sean Connery's introduction in Kenya. Also superb is Naseeruddin Shah wisely underplays his role as Captain Nemo, although it's somewhat disconcerting to see an otherwise reserved character occasionally break into over the top moves. Jason Flemyng shines as both Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde and the latter's make-up worked better than I thought. Stuart Townsend is appropriately the snide and cruel Dorian Gray, while Tony Curran tries his best to be a totally belligerent rogue called Rodney Skinner, and one character I did not think worked that well at all, who I thought was a totally atrocious actor who had a really stupid London accent that I thought was totally false and as I far as I am concerned I felt Tony Curran could not act his way out of a paper bag.
Yet for some of its flaws, the comic book fan in me couldn't help but be thrilled to finally see ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ film brought to life. The film boasts handsome production values and impressive special effects, and I was relieved that it was treated seriously, with a slight tongue in cheek scenario. I also understood that Tom Sawyer was supposed to be a surrogate son for Allan Quatermain but they have presumably only known each other for three days and that hardly gives them enough time to develop such a cherished bond? ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ film was for my money not at all a total disaster as a lot of critics lambasted it when released in the cinema and to some it may not be extraordinary, but as far as I am concerned it is what I really hoped it would be and much more, which was a very entertaining Victorian super-hero comic book film that I have loved ever since I saw it in the cinema. Also on the bright side, the extraordinary film has a lot of potential and originality, with familiar legends placed together in an interesting situation. The rich, imaginative fantasy that the idea this film represents is ambitious and intriguing. It is very entertaining and only 90% of the characters deserves a second look, which is of course an extraordinary quality for any action film, that I know has a great fan following and I am one of them, so well done to all who was involved with this film. Of course at the end of the film it sort of gives a hint that there might be a chance of a sequel and that Allan Quatermain would rise from his grave and set out to do battle with more evil empires out there with The League, but I suppose it was such a massive box office failure, the executives decided too much money had been spent on this particular film and felt they could not risk another failure, oh well we can all dream can’t we.
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN MUSIC TRACK LIST
SONS OF AFRICA [Score Vocal Performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo]
PROMENADE BY THE SEA [Score Lyrics written by Victoria Seale]
LARGO AL QUADRUPEDE (From La Traviata) (uncredited) [By Giuseppe Verdi]
Blu-ray Video Quality – 20th Century Fox brings us this film in a brilliant 1080p encoded colourful image, especially with an equally impressive 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The image throughout the film is usually quite solid, but unfortunately very inconsistent picture quality. Especially close-up and daylight shots offer a good sharpness value. Usually quite good contrast ratio which falls only in some scenes. Despite many gloomy filming images, give us a usually quite natural colour reproduction throughout the film. So all in all a good effort all round. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 20th Century Fox brings us this film with just a 5.1 DTS-HT Master Audio experience. But for some unknown reason with the Title it is very loud, but overall the sound throughout the film is a very clear. In general, the sound design is characterized by a generally very aggressive audio mixture, which makes practically all channels available and also gives all of your speakers a good workout. In addition to a substantial portion of bass which is virtually in every action sequence throughout the film and uses the subwoofer best of all and there are countless brilliant surround sound effects that contribute to a partly almost brutal surround feeling. In the many film shooting experiences and other fighting sound effects, as well as the variety of really different sound mix on offer, are well suited to this film and I found it a very enjoyable experience. The motto here was probably simple: The louder, the better and I agree with that mantra! There is nothing to complain with the dialogue, and definitely remain consistently and very well understandable and have been all well balanced with the rest of the material throughout the film, so once again a good effort all round.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
First Audio Commentary by Producers Don Murphy and Trevor Albert, and Actors Shane West, Jason Flemyng and Tony Curran: First up to introduce themselves is Don Murphy who informs us that he is the producer of the film and the second film he has ever been involved, as the first one was ‘From Hell.’ Next up to introduce themselves is Jason Flemyng who also informs us that Tony Curran is sitting next to him viewing the DVD of the film. Next up to introduce themselves is Trevor Albert and of course informs us that he was the other producer of the film, and also praises the composer Trevor Jones for his excellent sterling work towards the music score throughout the film. They inform us that one of the scenes at the start of the film had to be cancelled for two weeks because of a high tide that flooded the film studio. When we see the first shot of Kenya in Africa, we are informed it was actually filmed in Prague and the Mount Kilimanjaro was actually a matte painting. When we first see the London scenes, again this was filmed in Prague and 90% of the street scenes were computer generated CGI imagery. When Sean Connery is inside the main building and about to meet “M” [aka Moriarty] the evil protagonist, well of course “M” is homage to the James Bond films. At this point, finally, Shane West introduces himself and points out his first appearance in the film in the soaking rain as the super charged car passes in front of him. When we enter the scene in the massive library, we are informed that it was originally an old Sugar Beet Factory in Prague that was in operation in the Second World War and when you see Dorian Gray in the chair, they point out that behind him hidden away was a pile of rotting sugar beet and someone had to keep throwing stuff on it to take away the rotting smell. When Jason Flemyng speaks about his appearance as Edward Hyde, he tells us that he wore a very heavy bulky body suit and make-up took up to eight hours. When you see the actors walking around the Nautilus submarine, we are informed that took several months to build the interiors, but were all destroyed during the worst flooding in the Czech Republic had in 300 years and the Nautilus interior had been built on an old shipyard site and again the whole place got flooded up to the ceiling and had to stop filming for almost three weeks and of course the Nautilus interior and to be rebuilt from scratch. When we are in Venice, they wanted to actually film in the City of Venice, but because as you will have seen all the building are destroyed by the bombs, and of course the authorities in Venice gave a big NO, so in the end they had to build the sets in Prague and some were miniatures, but some of the buildings were full size. When we get near to the end of the film where Sean Connery has been killed and he shipped back to Kenya to where he is buried, well that scene was actually filmed in Calabasas in California and the commentators mulled over whether Sean Connery would be brought back to life or would there be a follow up film, but of course we now know this never happened. So as the credits roll up the screen, all commentators ask us if we enjoyed the film and all of their comments. Well most of the commentators were very interesting, but in certain parts of the film we get a lot of silence and also a lot of the comments were of stuff that was pretty boring, but despite this, I did enjoy most of this particular audio commentary, but unfortunately I had to crank the sound up quite a few notches to hear the audio commentary properly.
Second Audio Commentary by Costume Designer Jacqueline West, Visual Effects Supervisor John E. Sullivan, Make-Up Effects Supervisor Steve Johnson and Miniatures Creator Matthew Gratzner: First up to introduce themselves is Matthew Gratzner who informs us that he was the Visual Effects Supervisor at New Deal Studios that is a 21st Century Creative Studio, that are based in Los Angeles, California and was contracted for some of the miniature effects shots in the film. Next up to introduce themselves is John Sullivan who was the final Supervision Visual Effects Supervisor for this film and was brought in seven weeks into this film to get it completed in the time frame available. Next up to introduce themselves is Jacqueline West who was of course the Costume Designer for the film, and was very surprised to be called in for this comic book film and was also at the same time intrigued, especially with history of the past colliding with the future seemed very interesting to Jacqueline. We find out that with the computer generated images throughout the film were done by the combined efforts of DIGISCOPE and PIXEL MAGIC, and the Britannica Club was a miniature that was a composite image for the film. When Jacqueline West started doing the designing of the clothing, especially for the bullet proof armour, which was copied from designs at the Imperial War Museum, which was the main one where Jacqueline visited in London and the director Stephen Norrington rejected the design at first, because he felt the armour was too heavy, but later on was adjusted to suit the actors wearing it. As to “The Fantom” clothing design, Jacqueline based it on the UK Black Shirt uniform worn by the men under the leadership of Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet was an English politician who rose to fame in the 1920s as a Member of Parliament and fell to disgrace in 1930s as leader of the British Union of Fascists and again Jacqueline wanted “The Fantom” clothing design to be a combination of Liberace and Rasputin. Jacqueline also goes into great detail about the clothing designs for Sean Connery, and because of being a great admirer of this Scottish actor, designed his clothing based on a book entitled “White Hunter” that was about the legendary Scottish "White Hunter" John Alexander Hunter (1887 – 1963) who use to take Victorian Royalty on Safari expeditions and gave the book to Sean which he really appreciated receiving it. By the way, when you see the leather wrist strap on Sean’s wrist, this was to cover up a tattoo for some unknown reason that was never explained. But when it came to the clothing design of Captain Nemo [Naseeruddin Shah], Jacqueline is supposed to of based the clothing design on a famous Prince in India, who was supposed to be a revolutionary at the time and so wanted Captain nemo to look very regal looking, and the metal parts on the clothing was hand tooled silver, and the complete outfit was hand made in India. Because of at the time of filming, the United Kingdom was suffering from the BSE [Bovine spongiform encephalopathy] scandal and the leather coat for the Invisible Man had to be imported from Italy, as no leather was available at the time in the UK, and the design of the coat was based on a Victorian overcoat. With Dorian Gray clothing, Jacqueline wanted to reflect his character with Grey Pin Stripped suit that the Gangsters would wear in 1920s America. With the actress Peta Wilson, Jacqueline wanted to reflect a true Victorian woman of great style and the director thought the design was perfect. Next to introduce themselves was Steve Johnson who designed all the prosthetics for the film and of course it is the first time in the film we get to Steve’s work when we see Edward Hyde appear. When you see the super charged car shoot out of the submarine Nautilus, and when you see it being driven around Venice, this was a radio controlled model with small models of the actors in it, but of course when you see a close up of the car, you see that actual actors in the car. When you get to hear certain commentators talk most of the time in very technical jargon and how certain scenes were done and I found this sort of information pretty boring, as I did not find this mumbo jumbo information rather numb minding and I do not why these people get so excited by what they describe, as to be honest it would only interest people who are involved in this side of the film industry who find this in-depth information interesting. When near the end of the film with the Kenya setting, where Allan Quatermain is buried, it is again mentioned they thought there might be a follow up film, but again we know this never came to fruition, which is a shame, even though it was the last film that Sean Connery appeared in. As the credits roll up the screen, all the commentators comments on all the work they did over a 16 week period and all became close friends, then sadly all had to part company and go their separate ways forever, which they were all sad about, as they worked extremely hard, but also had a lots of fun times as well. All of them felt the whole film really worked and they also felt there were not one duff special effects, as all turned out really well, and says a lot about this particular film, especially as they all had to work under a very tight budget constraints, and they felt everyone did an exceptional professional job, and they feel the work speaks for itself, which I totally agree 100%. But again one slight criticism, unfortunately I had to crank the sound up quite a few notches to hear the audio commentary properly.
Special Feature: Trivia Track: With this new extra feature to this Blu-ray disc, and with this feature activated, Trivia information will appear at various points during the film. You get to view the wording information in a border area that over times appears in different positions on the screen. And another bonus is that you get to watch the film in 5.1 DTS-HT Master Audio. What you get to read is totally fascinating and really gives you so much insight into the background into making of the film. So please give it a try and see if you find the information read of some interst.
Special Feature: Search Content: With this personalised “Search Content,” the film can be searched for certain keywords from A to Z. The keywords are arranged in alphabetical order and always point to the respective time in the film, which can then be precisely controlled.
Special Feature: Personal Scene Selection: In addition, there is the “personal scene selection” to bookmark up to 12 scenes that you would like you to like to refer to later on and especially where the respective favourite scenes can be compiled, stored and then played. So what you have to do is press the ENTER button on your remote control to select a scene. Then you see a selection of numbers which you have to press for that particular scene you want to view.
Special Feature: LXG: Shooting Gallery: With this interactive simple game that is not really very exciting and offers only the possibility to shoot the bad guys in the library scene and if one meets a League member, however you gain points. It is slightly awkward and wholly lacking in any entertainment value or purpose, but it is sort of fun while it lasts for about a minute in total.
Trailer: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Trailer  [1080p] [2.35:1] [1:05] This is the Original Theatrical trailer for the film ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.’ It is a brilliant presentation, especially when the announcer informs us, “There Powers Are Legendary;” “Their Origins Are Unknown;” “There Methods Are Extreme;” “This Summer The Bad Will Fight For Good” and “Prepare For The Extraordinary This Summer.”
Finally, with ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ film, we have a bunch of quasi-heroic Victorian literary characters that we have been thrust into a very busy, very violent action film and forced to adopt all the postmodern traits needed for that context. I cannot help but wonder what Oscar Wilde, H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Bram Stoker, Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson would think of someone turning their beloved creations into reality for this film and of course it did not spawn a sequel, which is understandable. ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ was not the total disaster as most critics proclaimed that the film was, more so compared to the utter embarrassing disastrous films such as ‘Scooby Doo,’ ‘Wild Wild West,’ ‘The Avengers’ and especially ‘Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle,’ which must be among that summer's worst atrocious entry on the cinema circuit. Whereas the film ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’ may not be extraordinary that it was hoped to be, whereas in my opinion it was a very entertaining Victorian super-hero film of style and substance and well worth viewing and is definitely a very tongue in cheek in its approach to the showcasing the Super Hero in this extravaganza rollercoaster film, who definitely gets a stamp of approval from me. I also feel this is a definite companion to this Blu-ray disc, because of the ‘VAN HELSING’  film which includes a character you see in ‘THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’  film, and of course includes the Australian actor Richard Roxburgh, who played Count Dracula in the 2004 film and of course plays two evil characters in both of these films with great dedication. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso