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Section Header
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
(2003)
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Lyrics Co-Written, and Produced by:
Trevor Jones

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Geoffrey Alexander

Co-Orchestrated by:
Mike Townend

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Lyrics Co-Written by:
Victoria Seale
Joseph Shabalala

Label:
Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
July 29th, 2003

Also See:
From Hell
Dark City
Last of the Mohicans

Audio Clips:
5. Nautilus - Sword of the Ocean (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

8. Capturing Mr. Hyde (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

14. May This New Century Be Yours (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

15. Son of Africa (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Availability:
The release was a very early iTunes exlcusive in America. For Mac computer users running OS X, the score could be downloaded for $10 at the Apple iTunes Music Store online. The Varèse Sarabande album with identical music was made available in regular stores outside of the U.S., and can be purchased at regular prices through soundtrack specialty outlets or through the label itself.

Awards:
  None.









The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
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Sales Rank: 319976


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Buy it... if you want to hear Trevor Jones' surprisingly entertaining action score in a much better presentation than what was actually heard in the film's poor mix.

Avoid it... if you demand the prototypical Jones title theme with extremely obvious characteristics, for this score maintains a highly charged, symphonic environment without a very memorable thematic identity.



Jones
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: (Trevor Jones) It is difficult to describe the sheer magnitude of failure committed here by 20th Century Fox. The 2003 venture The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, known mostly as actor Sean Connery's last foray into mainstream action (hairpiece or no), is a knee-slapper for intellectual viewers, a spectacle of stupidity that could serve as the sole source of hundreds of collegiate essays on the topic of logical fallacies. One can't imagine what Venetians must think of it. Loosely based on the characters of comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, Stephen Norrington's film twists its historical characters to such an embarrassing extent that Captain Nemo is now a turban-wearing martial arts expert (the turban was suggested by Jules Verne, but definitely not the Jackie Chan imitations) and Mr. Hyde's wardrobe features the same spandex in his pants as the Hulk, with both angry CGI characters sparing audiences the sight of indecent exposure while the rest of their clothing is torn away. That's a shame, really, because The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (sometimes called LXG for promotional ease) could have used some intentional laughs to accompany the plethora of unintentional ones. The film was universally despised by critics and sparingly tolerated by a few audiences, an irony given that its intelligence was actually a bit greater than the applauded, concurrent debut of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Not only did Fox take a perfectly viable concept for a film and mangle it, but they also managed to screw up the release of composer Trevor Jones' score to the public. For Jones, this disastrous cinematic event was an extreme disappointment, for he had not produced a major score of interest since his impressive work for From Hell. His qualifications for the project were strong, having composed several spectacular action themes (with the still best-selling Last of the Mohicans among them) and varied, dark, and challenging material for other eye-candy thrillers (such as Dark City). Interestingly, Jones didn't score The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for what it was: the ultimate form of eye candy. Instead, he made a concerted effort to provide a straight and serious action score for a film that certainly didn't deserve the effort. The massive orchestral effort, devoid of synthetics, is aided my a resoundingly deep choral accompaniment.

The resulting score couldn't save the film, but it remains a treat for score collectors. Many viewers of the film have long claimed that Jones' score lacks a distinctive title theme. This is partially incorrect; Jones does offer a two-bar, eleven-note brass theme several times in the score, sometimes within great crescendos, but unfortunately this theme was lost in the film due to erratic applications and poor mixing amongst the other sonic elements in the production. It would have taken a theme of the bold caliber of Last of the Mohicans or Cliffhanger to overcome the poor editing of the score in the film. Almost mechanical in its methodical pace, Jones' theme is worthy especially for the like-minded creations of Nemo in the film. It has no swing, sidestep, or interlude, instead choosing to blind-side the listener like a flying brick. There's nothing wrong with that approach, and the theme is quite enjoyable, but it fails to stir up a sense of importance involving the special circumstances that coincide with the joining of these awesome characters. The actual major fault of the score is the lack of any depth to the scoring of individual characters, with only Quartermain (Connery's character) and his African affiliations given a specific motif or sound. Thus, while Jones was attempting to score the League as a whole, the personality of each individual talent in the group is musically neglected. Some will correctly argue that in film as poorly developed as this, it would have been difficult for Jones to achieve such a goal with any significant effect on the picture. But when has Jones stepped away from a challenge in an assignment like this? The characters don't even receive subtle instrumental associations of any value. The technique Jones instead followed wins points for consistency, however, and leads to the greatest asset of the music for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: its sustained action. Jones' adventure music has seldom whooped butt with a full orchestra for continuous excitement in his many assignments to the genre, Dark City an obvious and explosive exception. He can turn a theme and mark a short cue with an orchestral crash along with the best composers, but rhythmically sustained action with the full ensemble (as opposed to the more singular "Elk Hunt" approach in Last of the Mohicans) is something relatively rare in his career. Several cues in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen defy this tendency, however, offering action material of monumental proportions.

The "Nautilus - Sword of the Ocean" cue is worthy of study in and of itself. It is the first major application of the title theme in the context of the film's journey to save the world, and it is among Jones' best career work. As the adventure begins, the submarine (although awkward in its CGI portrayal on screen) is scored with a flourish of seaworthy activity by the orchestra. Percussion rips and strings boil while the brass belt out non-stop statements of the score's primary identity. In the last minute of the cue, the rolling rhythms of the music offer a strikingly similar sound to that heard in Mark Snow's worthy 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea score, a circumstance perhaps intended. After this cue, and well through the scenes in Venice, Jones presents explosive orchestral material for sustained periods, taxing the stamina of the London Symphony Orchestra with the continuous level of robust, snare-driven material. The cue "Capturing Mr. Hyde" is another action highlight of Jones' career, pulling out all of the stops on the frantic strings, bellowing brass, and heart-pounding rhythms. The cue "Dawn of a New Century" serves as a good concert suite-like arrangement with an added choral touch. The immensely broad scope is truly the attraction in these cues; Jones clearly puts the fate of the entire planet on the line in them (including "Storming the Fortress") by creating an expansive soundscape through the employment of extremely diverse layers of sound, especially in the brass section. These action cues are indeed spectacular in parts, though the softer moments of Jones' work are less enticing. What little character development is offered in the film is mirrored by rather tepid, uninteresting meanderings of strings. Cues such as "Mina Harker's Secret" and "Portrait of Dorian Gray" are surprisingly generic in their constructs, though at least Jones maintains a consistently harmonic foundation for these sequences, translating into smooth album listening. Again, the score never establishes strong subthemes or smaller motifs for secondary characters. The African scenes are scored by both Jones and Joseph Shabalala, performed in Swahili by the Ladysmith Black Mambazo male group. These performances are out of context in both the film and on the album, begging questions about its choice for this application. When these African performances are merged with the orchestra, such as in "Son of Africa," the sound begins to form some connections to the remainder of the work. But in the film, they still sound misplaced. The vocal source cue written by Jones for the saloon scene, "Promenade by the Sea," is more appropriate for its Victorian setting in the film, but also makes for a striking change of tone on the album presentation.

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Overall, Jones' score is flawed, but it features twenty minutes (or more) of outstanding action writing for the full orchestral ensemble. The score's frenetic pace propels it from one loud orchestral outburst to the next, and Jones collectors will not want to miss The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on album. But miss it where? The questionable executives who determine the application of music at 20th Century Fox decided to toy around with this score on the market, causing significant fan irritation. Admittedly, Filmtracks doesn't hold such decision-makers at Fox with high regards (since the time the studio threatened Filmtracks with legal action over its Moulin Rouge review), but Fox clearly proved its stupidity with this score's album release. As Billboard initially reported, Jones' score was to be made available for downloading only through Apple's iTunes Music Store. For $9.99, score fans could download the score as of July 3rd, 2003, and Billboard continued by saying that "the soundtrack will be an online only release, not to be issued on any physical medium or associated with any label." Well, with the entry of Varèse Sarabande into the equation, they were wrong. You have to feel sorry for Varèse, because it's easy to get the impression that they were manhandled into this situation by Fox (not to mention the fact that the film failed so badly that it evaporated hopes of high album grosses). With iTunes offering music only to Americans in 2003, Varèse was able to press a normal, identical CD album of Jones' score and sell it overseas and, thankfully, exclusively through their website to anyone. Although this was more expensive for Americans, it did offer non-Apple Mac users (and those who hadn't switched to the Mac OS X yet; recall that iTunes was exclusive to OS X users at the time) an opportunity to get their hands on the score without seeking the inevitable bootlegs. Audiophiles could immediately distinguish a slight diminishing of sound quality on the downloaded version compared to the CD. It was a dumb decision all around, but it was due to no fault of Varèse, which did the best it could given Fox's decision to experiment with the Americans concerning the online release. It was simply too early for this kind of endeavor to work, because not only was the technology too restrictive at the time, mainstream score collectors obviously weren't yet ready for this move. The score has remained in print at Varèse's site throughout the rest of the decade, however, helping alleviate the situation in the long term. As for the score, it comes highly recommended for enthusiasts of Jones' wild orchestral rides, with boisterous, symphonic action that will not disappoint in its highlights. While the entirety of the work has some flaws of its own, the score's poor integration into the film does not do it justice.   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Score as Written for the Film: ***
    Score as Heard in the Film: **
    Score as Heard on Album: ****
    Overall: ***

Bias Check:For Trevor Jones reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.78 (in 18 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.42 (in 24,416 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 3.32 Stars
Smart Average: 3.27 Stars*
***** 527 
**** 636 
*** 678 
** 278 
* 307 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternate review of LXG at Movie Music UK
  Jonathan Broxton -- 9/7/04 (6:24 p.m.)
   League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  Dominique -- 8/26/04 (1:04 a.m.)
   Re: "Blade" Theme in the Movie!
  TheLastSlasherStanding -- 3/12/04 (11:00 a.m.)
   Re: Anger?
  Thomas -- 1/22/04 (2:01 a.m.)
   Comments on film
  Nikki -- 10/22/03 (3:44 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 54:41


• 1. Dawn of a New Century (4:28)
• 2. Kenya - Wait for Me - performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo (3:32)
• 3. Task Requires Heroes (4:09)
• 4. Promenade by the Sea (2:54)
• 5. Nautilus - Sword of the Ocean (3:30)
• 6. The Game is On (2:54)
• 7. Old Tiger (2:56)
• 8. Capturing Mr. Hyde (3:29)
• 9. Mina Harker's Secret (3:18)
• 10. Phantom's Lair (5:30)
• 11. Portrait of Dorian Gray (3:40)
• 12. Treachery (5:29)
• 13. Storming the Fortress (3:55)
• 14. May This New Century Be Yours (2:34)
• 15. Son of Africa - performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo (2:08)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The CD's insert contains extensive credits and several pictures of the characters in the film, but no extra information about the score or film. The downloadable version had no distinct artwork of its own.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are Copyright © 2003, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/7/03 and last updated 3/12/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.