Oh boy, this was the one. This was the film I was waiting all summer for. Any regular reader of FullyRamblomatic should know that I took out a permanent lease on the edge of my seat when I knew that my favouritest comic book in the whole wide world was becoming a film. But do you know, this is the umpteenth film I've seen in a cinema this year and there still weren't any damn trailers for - oh wait.

Little inside joke for the regular FR readers, there.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an intriguing premise on its own. British Intelligence brings together a group of gifted people from various pieces of Victorian classic and pulp literature in order to combine their efforts toward the greater good. On the way, there're about eleventy billion other references to literature of that period. I tell ye this, the comic probably did more to send readers to Victorian literature than any English lesson. And here's the film.

First let me clarify that I went into this film certain I was going to dislike it. Right from when I started looking into details on the film I knew I was going to dislike it, because they made some pretty drastic changes from the book, and as I have previously mentioned, it was my favouritest book in the whole wide world. So my review will be biased, but it really was an 'orrible shame. Especially since they found a way to bugger up every single damn character.

Let's go through them and find out how! That'll be a fun game, won't it, children!

1. Allan Quatermain

Original Book: King Solomon's Mines (H. Ryder Haggard)

In The Comic: Having faked his own death, Allan turned his back on adventuring and spent most of the time afterwards doped up to the friggin' eyeballs until being dragged screaming from his opium bed and forced into the League. He's a rather haunted adventurer who gets easily cross, as you'd expect.

In The Film: He's Sean Connery! Whoopee! The presence of The Sean has a tendency to taint a film, I find, because he is never his character; he's always just The Sean. Arnie had the same problem, probably why he began single-handedly snapping faith in democracy in half across his musclebound thigh. It's a shame, 'cos Allan's a pretty good character in his own right. In this film, he's found in a sort of retirement home in Kenya, presumably 'cos the opium stuff would have tainted his heroic image. They threw in some dippy backstory about him being haunted by guilt after he took his son on an adventure and the lad died. I can live with them ripping up the comic, but that's entreating on the original books, you tossers!

Also, they keep spelling it 'Quartermain'. Tossers.

2. Mina Murray/Harker

Original Book: Dracula (Bram Stoker), The Most Boring Book In The World

In The Comic: The leader of the League, a tough and prim suffragete, standing proud in her own right in a world of men. She divorced her sappy husband Jonathan Harker and took her old name back, 'cos he was a twat. She's probably the best female comic book character ever (my girlfriend certainly thinks so!). This is because she actually HAS character, rather than just being a convenient love interest and tantalising pair of boobies all rolled into one. She is also very, very human.

In The Film: A convenient love interest and tantalising pair of boobies all rolled into one. Oh, and she's a vampire. Hollywood, you've let me down in the past, but now you're putting the boot in. "Hey! Lets make her a vampire! That'd be cool!" I hear those studio execs cry as they masturbate furiously. They call her 'Mrs Mina Harker', as her husband died, 'cos he was a twat. What they did to Mina is the main reason my girlfriend is not watching the film.

I suppose alarm bells rang for me when I first saw the trailer on TV, and for about one sixth of a second the focus was on Mina's cleavage. Her head wasn't visible. It was just a full-frontal close up of her upper torso, for absolutely no reason. I seem to remember saying once that the best way to improve the film 'Street Fighter' would have been to replace the action with a close-up of some breasts, but I didn't think anyone would ever actually DO it. This is doubly notable because, as I recall, Mina didn't even wear anything throughout the film that exposed her cleavage.

3. Captain Nemo

Original Book: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Jules Verne), The Second Most Boring Book In The World

In The Comic: A gigantic bearded Hindu built like a brick shithouse, towering and fearsome as the tallest member of the League, owner and operator of the Nautilus and a very big black beard. Strangely enough, he always refused to do any actual physical work for the League, disguising himself as a servant on one occasion and obstinately refusing to pull his weight ever again. Very much a case of letting the awkward kid join your club because he has all the best toys.

In The Film: He's TINY. He's a tiny little man in a very fake-looking beard in ornate naval gear that makes him look like a small child who got lost in the costume department. Also, he does Kung-Fu. Hear me now as I sigh. Haahhhhhh.

4. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Original Book: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) (duh)

In The Comic: Messy, nervous, ugly little Dr. Jekyll turns into gigantic, ape-like Edward Hyde whenever he becomes overstressed. I'm still waiting for him to say something along the lines of "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry".

In The Film: They gave him SIDEBURNS. Oh, christ, the rest of it I can forgive, but SIDEBURNS! AGH! In all seriousness, they do cock him up by saying he has to take the potion to become Hyde, then after a while the potion runs out and he turns back. First of all, this isn't how it went in the comic. Second of all, in the original book, when he took the potion he became Hyde indefinitely until taking it again, and by the end of the book was changing without the potion. CHRIST, Mr. Director Man, it would've taken all of an AFTERNOON to read all these books, and how long did you have to make your shitty film? Bloody damn buggering arse!

Oh, and despite being the evil side of Jekyll's personality, Hyde does very little in the way of evil.

5. The Invisible Man

Original Book: The Invisible Man (HG Wells)

In The Comic: 'Hawley Griffin'. Having survived the events of HG Wells' novel, Griffin is insane and hiding in a girl's school, playing 'pick and mix vaginas'. He joins the League after being promised a cure, and it soon becomes clear that he's a giggling sociopath with no regard for humanity, resorting to unnecessary murder on two occasions. This doesn't distract, however, from the fact that he's the COOLEST FUCKING GUY in the ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD.

In The Film: 'Rodney Skinner', a loveable cockney sparrer, gentleman thief, a bit of a character, a rough diamond with a heart of gold, me old china. He stole Griffin's invisibility process in order to become the ultimate thief. I suppose he was rather fun, but he FUCKING WELL WASN'T HAWLEY GRIFFIN ARGH ARGH GROWL GROWL BITE BITE. This was down to copyright issues with HG Wells' estate, so I can't really blame the filmmakers, but one wonders how the comic got away with him. So he's not THE invisible man, as advertised, he's just AN invisible man. Griffin will always be THE invisible man for me.

I tried conditioning myself to hear 'Griffin' whenever I heard the name 'Skinner', but that didn't work out right. I'd end up hearing the character as 'Rodley Skiffin' or even 'Horny Grinner'. Though on reflection, the latter name does fit Griffin to a T.

6. Dorian Gray

Original book: The Picture Of Dorian Gray (Oscar 'I Swear To Christ I Love My Wife' Wilde)

In The Comic: Conspicuous in his absence.

In The Film: I honestly don't know why he was in the film, except [INCOMING SPOILER! HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS!] to provide a villain figure to betray them all [ALL CLEAR]. So he wasn't in the comic, so they couldn't bugger that up. However, in the film Mina managed to destroy him just by showing him his portrait, when in the original book he had to slash the painting up before getting around to the whole death thing.

7. Tom Sawyer

Original Book: That one by Mark Twain.

In The Comic: Nope.

In The Film: I don't know why Hollywood feels they have to throw in Americans to make Americans interested in chiefly British films. Americans LOVE British shit. They love our television, they loved The Full Monty, and even they hate it when Americans start fiddling about with our formulas. He's some special agent or something. They give him some father-son relationship with The Sean, and he's apparently able to operate the world's first automobile as soon as he gets in. I think Dorian Gray put it best: "We don't need you."

Moving on.

They take one or two plot points from the comic, then hurl everything else through the nearest plate glass window, to strike the pavement below at great speed and get run over by about fourteen vans. [MORE SPOILERS COMING! AWOOGA-WOO!] The bloke leading them turns out to be Professor Moriarty, also filling the role of chief villain [DANGER HAS PASSED, ALL IS WELL], but besides that it's all new. There's some plot to spark off a World War, and some hackneyed stuff about a plan to clone the superpowered members of the League. It all comes down to familiar action film territory, especially when they have to break into Moriarty's secret base, defeat his hordes of henchmen and blow the place to smithereens.

So, lots of reasons for me to hate the film, but not necessarily reasons for others to hate it. I suppose you might like it if you never read the comic, and if you're into mindless popcorn action flicks. I'm glad to say the spirit of the original intention (a tribute/satire on Victorian fiction) is there, since there are plenty of nods and cameos to a host of other books from that period, even if they get a bit crowbarred-in at times. Dialogue's extremely dodgy in places, too.

The trouble with having seven protagonists is that you need seven antagonists, seven backstories, seven 'struggles against adversity' and seven resolutions. So some of it gets a bit rushed, quite a few backstories are recounted in a matter of nanoseconds, and towards the end the action switches constantly between about four or five different battles, with Mina fighting Dorian and Quatermain fighting Moriarty and Skinner fighting another invisible man and Hyde fighting another Hyde. It's all done in a very fast-pace, but at least it does get done at all; at least all the characters have character.

In summary, then, I would recommend this film only if you've never read the comic, don't like to think much, and don't think the following questions would nag you at all:

- If the villains were trying to clone super soldiers from Skinner, Hyde and Mina, why weren't they interested in trying to reproduce Dorian Gray's indestructible nature? I guess 'selling your soul to the devil' is too unscientific.

- Why does everyone immediately suspect Skinner when they realised someone has betrayed them? Did they all read the comic, too?

- Where did Hyde get a hilarious oversized top hat to wear? Why didn't he get a hilarious oversized suit while he was at it?

- Why does everyone change into a new outfit whenever the camera's off them? (Although, to be fair, this was prevalent in the comic, too)

- How the hell could anyone analyse an invisible skin sample? Maybe you'd figure it out eventually, but how would you then back-engineer it to reproduce Griffin's invisibility process and create another invisible man just days after the skin sample was acquired?

- Why does Moriarty look about 30 when he's supposed to be as old as the hills by 1899?

- Is Mina the kind of vampire who can go out in broad daylight, then?

- How did Dorian Gray photograph various parts of the Nautilus with a gigantic noisy Victorian camera without alerting anyone?

- How did Hyde's enemy drink Jekyll's formula when he was clearly just pouring it all over his face, none of it going into his mouth at all?

- While we're on the subject, why does drinking tons of formula turn that bloke into a gigantic monster? Jekyll's formula was designed to divide a person's evil side from the rest of him and bring that evil persona out into physical form. It shouldn't matter exactly how much formula you drink, your evil side will always be the same size, right? Maybe it was just because the guy was much more evil than Jekyll, but in that case, why does Hyde cry "No! Not the whole thing!"? Grumble grumble mutter read the bloody book mutter grumble.

- Where does Nemo get those FABulous outfits?

- Where does Skinner keep that little pot of make-up he always smears his entire head in at a moment's notice? Wouldn't carrying it around everywhere compromise his invisibility a tad? And why does he have designer stubble when he's wearing it? Wouldn't the make-up hide that?

- How do Jekyll and Skinner, one semi-naked and the other butt-naked, survive running around icy tundra with no apparent ill effects?

- How does the Nautilus, the biggest ship ever built ever, navigate the canals in Venice, and why doesn't it cause comment?

- Why am I sitting in this place watching this dross when I could be out enjoying the sun, meeting new friends, or gaily humping some flower of girlhood under the swaying boughs of a shady tree?

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