Extraordi…what? The ultra-complex ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman’ is a misunderstood masterpiece

“Why would a Wookie-an 8-foot-tall Wookie-want to live on Endor with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!”

-Johnnie Cochran in the “Chef Aid” episode of “South Park”

Some things just don’t make sense. Ranch dressing on pizza. The popularity of that TV show “Boston Public.” The term “head cheese.” Calendar.

And when things don’t make sense, the riffraff (us, me included) become confused and angry, rising up in indignation and fomenting rebellions. Most casually educated people hate to think of themselves as obtuse or incapable of comprehending something.

But who could blame us? We’ve been inculcated with the errant notion that we’re repositories of limitless potential. We’re told “you can do anything,” so when we receive jarring empirical evidence indicating that most of us are largely stupidheads, it eats at our insecurity and undercuts our most fundamental notions of social democracy.

The idea that some of us are embodiments of Nietzsche’s supermen while others are Huxley’s mindless epsilons induces disquiet and ire. We’d rather think that we’re all…well, equal, with the same intelligence and aptitudes. But our society is unequivocally stratified. We all know that the population doesn’t exist on a rigid plane of mediocrity.

No, fortunately for humanity, certain exemplary individuals operate in the most rarefied regions of the intellectual stratosphere, writing the greatest literary works, deriving the most groundbreaking scientific theories and just being better than everyone else.

It is a team of such erudite elites that gave birth to what I can only describe as The Single Most Intelligent Film Ever Made In The History of Man and God. This impossibly perfect piece of art, this exemplar, is none other than “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”

The film follows the adventures of a motley collection of hoodlums and heroes with superhuman abilities and traits. These Extraordinary Gentlemen comprise personas from the literary canon: Tom Sawyer, Alan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dorian Grey, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and a few others. They chase around another literary figure, Mr. Moriarty, and try to prevent his plunging the world into chaos.

I must confess that initially I didn’t understand the movie at all. I thought it was rife with fallacies, inscrutability and convolution. This indicates that at the time, I simply didn’t possess the cranial cavern to rapidly digest the barrage of action, plot and bad CGI. Two days later, even after two inexorable nights of careful contemplation, I still couldn’t grasp what I knew had to be paradoxical understatement and nuance buzzing in the background of ambient explosions.

My delayed-or absent, as the case may be-enlightenment is solely my failing. I can’t blame “The League” because I can’t discern any of director Stephen Norrington, screenwriter James Robinson,or the source writers Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s labyrinthine metaphors and symbolism.

Still, I have a few issues.

First of all, the technology presented in the film, which is set in 1899, remains a source of relentless perplexity. The League has a vehicle. As far as I know, the first cars were rudimentary and slow. Theirs is streamlined and fleet, racing around Europe at Autobahn speeds. It is important to note that even in the “League’s” world, the idea of a modern, 1940s-esque car is quite novel, and theirs is the only one. Yet somehow, Tom Sawyer, with no previous training, can expertly maneuver this thing. Does that mean that he represents an omniscient divine figure? Or is he just naturally talented? Am I to infer anything at all from these anachronistic clashes?

I don’t know, and I wish someone would tell me. Seriously. Please, help me.

Nevertheless, the most staggering block I’ve reached in trying to plumb “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” -I mean, besides the baffling character non-sequiturs-is its inconsistent scale. When we first see the Nautilus, the ship on which the members of the League travel, it appears several times larger than the Titanic. But, minutes later, this same gargantuan vessel perfectly navigates Venice’s narrow channels. What does that mean?

Again, I have no idea. Frankly, none of this makes any sense to me. So…uhh…huh. Perhaps “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s” intellectual magnitude just eclipses my puny mind’s meager abilities. Maybe I’m just not extraordinary enough.

Are you?

This has been Ben Zalkind reminding you that bad movies make you think, even though I can’t.

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