This week featured the opening of two movies I’ve been anticipating for some time: Pirates of the Caribbean and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I attended a Wednesday opening night screening of the former and just returned from an opening night screening of the latter.
The verdict: Pirates is superb and LXG is, well, quite unextraordinary indeed.
Let me pose a question to you…suppose I offered you the following two scenarios for a movie:
#1: A movie to be based on an amusement park ride, which, although starring the excellent Johnny Depp, is a Disney non-cartoon produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
#2: A movie to be based on a
comic book graphic novel, starring Sean Connery. Basic premise is a group of tragic Victorian literary figures who must overcome their flaws to unite and save the world.
Now, based on that information, which movie would you guess to be better? My gut told me the second. My gut was wrong.
LXG is a movie with wonderful possibilities that can’t figure out which possibilities it wants to use. There are moments that show the promise of the premise, but it quickly lapses back into the uninspired, sometimes painful screenplay. The most breathtaking thing about LXG is how it takes good acting and an intriguing premise and pretty much wastes both.
Pirates, on the other hand, takes a limited premise but manages to just about get everything possible out of it. This movie’s worth $7 just to see Depp’s entertaining performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly also do well, but Depp definitely is the one moving this movie. I had only two complaints, both related to plot structure. First, it’s fairly obvious how the action sequence is going to peak…about 10 minutes before it does so. Secondly, because this is a Disney film, the resolution of the love complications is done to achieve the “right result,” but the heart really doesn’t seem to be in it. A little more editing could have achieved a more believable, and satisfying, ending.
Whatever the script problems with Pirates, they pale in comparison to the problems with LXG. It’s as if the LXG screenwriters just couldn’t decide what they really wanted to do with this movie. They throw in a few gratuitous literary references (the best one is when we find out what the villain’s real name is) that are cute enough, but barely scratch the surface of how such references could have been made to truly enhance the story. There’s plenty of action and special effects. There’re scenes of introspection to ponder past evil deeds or missteps. Just when it seems the script is getting somewhere worthwhile with exploring some of these complex characters, WHOOPS! TIME TO BLOW SOMETHING UP!
As I said before, it’s really unfortunate. LXG really did have great potential. But if you’re looking for something fun to see this weekend, then choose the fun well done of Pirates of the Caribbean. Yo ho ho…!
(By the way, when you see Pirates, be sure to watch for the theatrical recreations of some of the panoramas from the rides. They’re there, and they’re quite faithful and fun.)
Pirates of Caribbean (the ride) and Professor James Moriarty are both part of warm childhood memories for Bobby Allison-Gallimore, who maintains a weblog at www.TheRattler.net.