comic book limited seriesThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, who is also famous for Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. It was released on July 11, 2003, in the United States, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, and Richard Roxburgh.
It is an action adventure film set in the late 19th century, featuring an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period, who act as Victorian Era superheroes. It draws on the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard, Ian Fleming, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux, and Mark Twain, albeit all adapted for the film. The plot and general atmosphere are very far from those of the original comic book.
The film was intended to spawn a film franchise based on further titles in the original comic book series. Although financially successful, it was critically panned, and there was little enthusiasm for a sequel.
In an alternate version of 1899, the Bank of England in London is attacked by a group of men who appear to be German soldiers using advanced explosives, automatic weapons, and an armored tank. Next is an attack on a Zeppelin factory in Berlin, by the same men, this time dressed as British soldiers. The British and German Empires are ready to declare war, which many believe will spread throughout Europe. An emissary of the British government, Sanderson Reed (Tom Goodman-Hill), arrives in a gentlemen's club in British East Africa, to recruit the legendary, but now aged and world-weary, hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) to investigate.
Because his adventures had cost the lives of many friends and lovers, two wives, and his beloved only child (a son, who died in his arms), Quatermain's enthusiasm for the British Empire and European wars has waned and he refuses. The words are hardly out of his mouth when men with automatic rifles burst into the club with attempts to assassinate Quatermain. The automatic rifles cause astonishment, as nobody known yet had invented a machinegun which was as small and light as a rifle. Soon the club is blown up, bringing the threat of war to his beloved Africa, and he agrees.
In London, Quatermain meets with the mysterious "M" (Richard Roxburgh), who explains his plan to assemble a modern version of a group of talented individuals known as the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", who have aided the world in times of need. In this case, they will combat the threat of the "Fantom", the true mastermind of the current crisis. M says they can ensure world peace, by stopping him from destroying Venice, where a peace conference is to take place. Quatermain is introduced to:
- The Indian pirate and technology genius Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), who commands the world's only submarine, the Nautilus, with Ishmael, the narrator in Moby Dick, as his first mate.
- An invisible thief by the name of Rodney Skinner (Tony Curran), who works for the government in the hope of finding an antidote for the invisibility serum he stole and drank.
- Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), a well-regarded chemist and widow of Jonathan Harker, later revealed to have some vampire-type abilities (but without a vampire's aversion to daylight) with connections to Count Dracula; she can summon up a swarm of bats.
When the group visits the mysterious immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend), the Fantom and his men attack. They fend off his forces with the help of American Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer (Shane West), who was on an investigation of his own and now joins them, but the Fantom escapes. The League then sets off to capture Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jason Flemyng); his evil form Edward Hyde, a misshapen giant, is found to be terrorizing Paris. He is hunted down and captured by Quatermain and Sawyer before Jekyll offers his services for reprieve for his crimes as Hyde in London.
With the League complete, they take off on the Nautilus for Venice. They begin to suspect there is a traitor in their midst when flash powder from a camera is found in the wheelhouse and a vial of Jekyll's transformation serum is found to be missing. Naturally, all think Skinner is the culprit; but, being invisible, Skinner cannot be found.
Though the League reaches Venice in time, the bombs planted under the city start to detonate, toppling buildings in a domino effect. The League decides that knocking one of the buildings out of the sequence is the only way to stop the mass collapse. Nemo has a missile that can be fired from the Nautilus at the building in question, but only if a beacon can be set in place. Since Nemo can track his "automobile," allowing it to serve as the beacon, Sawyer drives the car past the chain of explosions, as Dorian Gray and Mina Harker disembark to fight the Fantom's henchmen ambushing them. Quatermain, meanwhile, sees the Fantom and gives chase on foot. During the chase, The Fantom is unmasked and revealed to be M, who then escapes. At the same time, Sawyer crashes the car into the target building while firing a flare, which signals Nemo to launch his missile. The building is destroyed, the chain of explosions stops, and Venice is saved.
The League regroups at the Nautilus, where Quatermain reveals that M is behind everything. Nemo's first mate, Ishmael, although fatally shot by Gray, is able to reveal that Gray, not Skinner, is the traitor. Gray escapes in an exploration pod (a mini-sub), and Nemo sets the Nautilus in pursuit. A phonograph record made by M and Gray is found, revealing that the mission to Venice and the League itself were merely a ruse to enable M to take physical elements (Mina's vampire blood, Rodney's invisible skin, Jekyll's potion, and a photograph of Nemo's technological specs) from each of the supernatural members. He plans to construct an army of soldiers and weapons based on their powers; Quatermain was used only to capture Hyde. M's goal is to amass enormous wealth by starting wars and selling armaments and weaponry to the combatant countries. As the record plays, it releases an ultrasonic signal that sets off three bombs set by Gray before his departure. However, Dr. Jekyll transforms into Hyde and prevents the ship from sinking.
Following a signal from Skinner, who had stowed away on the exploration pod when Gray escaped, the Nautilus follows it to the Asiatic Arctic, where the League finds a cave overlooking an industrial fortress. Skinner appears and tells them that M is holding a number of scientists and their families as hostages and slaves in the fortress, his munitions factory. Splitting up, the League infiltrates the factory: Nemo and Hyde free the scientists and their families; Sawyer and Quatermain go after M; Skinner goes off to plant explosives; and Mina searches for her former lover, Gray.
Nemo and Hyde run into M's second-in-command, Dante (Max Ryan), who drinks a very large dose of Jekyll's formula and transforms into a gigantic monster to combat Hyde. Mina fights to a stalemate with Gray, as they are both immortal, until she confronts him with his enchanted portrait. When he sets eyes upon the painting, he ages rapidly, dies, and decays to dust. Quatermain, along with Sawyer, confronts M in his lair and reveals his deduction that M is none other than the supposedly dead nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, Professor James Moriarty.
As Skinner's explosives go off, Nemo and Jekyll escape the fortress through a small hole blasted into the wall, while Dante is crushed to death. Quatermain and Sawyer follow Moriarty, and Sawyer is attacked by Moriarty's men. Skinner saves Sawyer but is badly burnt, though he survives. Meanwhile, as Quatermain is about to kill Moriarty, he sees Sawyer being held at knifepoint and chooses to save Sawyer at the cost of being stabbed himself. Sawyer, using Quatermain's rifle "Mathilda" and the marksmanship skills Quatermain taught him, fatally shoots Moriarty who is fleeing across the ice toward his stolen submersible vessel. As Quatermain dies, he tells Sawyer that the new century belongs to him.
The surviving League members assemble in Africa to bury Quatermain, next to his son. As they depart, a tribal witch doctor (Semere-Ab Etmet Yohannes) takes handfuls of dirt from the grave and begins a ritual chant. We are reminded of a witch doctor's blessing and pronouncement, recounted at the beginning of the movie, that Africa would not let Quatermain die. As the witch doctor chants, the earth shakes, making the rifle Sawyer left on the grave shake. Lightning strikes the rifle and Quatermain's grave, and the screen cuts to black.
- Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain
- Naseerudin Shah as Captain Nemo
- Peta Wilson as Mina Harker
- Tony Curran as Rodney Skinner
- Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray
- Shane West as Tom Sawyer
- Jason Flemyng as Dr. Henry Jekyll/ Edward Hyde
- Richard Roxburgh as M
- Max Ryan as Dante
- Tom Goodman-Hill as Sanderson Reed
- David Hemmings as Nigel
- Terry O'Neill as Ishmael
- Rudolph Pellar as Draper
- Robert Willox as Constable Dunning
- Robert Orr as Running Officer
- Ewart James Walters as Toby
- Robert Vahey as Elderley Hunter
- Mariano Titani as Edgar Shreave
- Huggy Leaver as Hanson Cab Driver
- Neran Persaud as Crewman Patel
- Harmage Singh Kalirai as Chewman Chandra
- Bank Of England
- Asiatic Artic
- Immortal Portrait Of Dorian Gray