For the final “4-Color to 35-Millimeter” of 2017, I take a gander at two team movies that each failed at the box office. Only one of them actually deserved it. The great superhero movie rewatch examines Mystery Men and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Making Harker a vampire, and also a secondary character—she’s more or less the main character, along with Quartermain, in the comics—is a disservice, and Peta Wilson—who was superb in the title role in the USA TV series La Femme Nikita—is undercooked here to a surprising degree for someone who’s supposed to be a vampire. Re-casting Dorian Gray as a bored immortal doesn’t entirely work, nor does having him be an unrepentant villain (it doesn’t help that Stuart Townsend doesn’t really have the chops to elevate the role beyond the don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful mode that is all the script provides). Tom Sawyer adds nothing to the movie—it was done so there’d be an American, which was pointless, especially since there’s no relationship between Mark Twain’s character and this person.
Worse, because Sawyer and Quartermain are thrown together for most of the movie, we’re denied the much more interesting pairing of Quartermain with Naseeruddin Shah’s regally dignified Nemo. (Their exchange on Nautilus is delightful: “I may have been overly rude, earlier, when I called you a pirate.” “And I may have been overly charitable when I said I wasn’t.” The movie needed more of that, not less.)