The Avengers (1998)

reviewed by
J.K. Salisbury


Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery

Director: Jeremiah Chechnik

Previews: Virus, Pleasantville, Practical Magic, and that travesty of cinematic justice known as Psycho:The Remake


Ever since I was old enough to appreciate them, the movie preview or "trailer" as it is known, has always held a fascination with me. They tease, they taunt, they tempt, and they try to appeal to something in each moviegoer, to make them come back to the theater to see it. Sometimes (like here) the trailers, are the best part of the movies. I often get angry when I miss them, or there aren't enough, or any, trailers attached to a movie. I have often stated here, some of the faults that I believe are made in the trailers, and even the entire marketing campaign of a movie (maybe at some point, I'll get around to writing my opinion on that in a seperate paper, so I don't have to keep ranting incessantly in my reviews about them). Since I first saw the trailer for The Avengers (last winter, or early Spring, I was hyped. Between this, and The Mask of Zorro, my anticipation for summer action movies was thoroughly piqued, quite early. The preview is appealing, action packed, spoofingly humorous, and generally well made. It is just too bad that that is all there is to this movie. All the best parts are in that preview, and what's left, is a mess

It seems that the makers of this movie, took the trailer, admired it, and then realized they needed a movie to go along with it, so they pasted some other scenes in (very sloppily, and inconsistently) and sent it out into the world. This movie deserved so much better. My expectations (which lowered substantially by the refusal to prescreen, and rumoured lack of support from Connery and Thurman) were still not met. Now, I do have to say that this is still not the worst movie of the summer, that title is deeply entrenched in Big Apple devastation style, by both Godzilla, and Armageddon (with the lizard winning by one big green nose). It was nice to look at, had some good effects. I did like the use and manipulation of the weather as the baddie, (a stab at El Nino maybe?) but saving those things, I cannot recommend this movie to others.

The performances, were cardboard, as was most of the movie. I know it was a spoof, or take off, of the old British series, for which I was not a fan, so I cannot fairly compare. But still, I cannot imagine the series being this staid and dry. Fiennes, and Thurman (both Oscar nominees) sleepwalk through most of this movie, delivering lines with articulate perfection, but still seeming like they're reading off cue cards, or conspicuously placed scripts. Connery (an Oscar winner, and cinematic icon) overacts, and seems not to believe some of the lines he's reading. I couldnt wait to see Connery play the bad guy with his rogueish attitude that he's given his other action roles. I am still waiting. The only truly watchable performance, is the evil Marcel Marceauian act pulled off by British cross-dressing comedian Eddie Izzard, who utters only one line, but exudes badness with that look. Maybe he should've been the bad guy here instead of Connery.

The Avengers had so much leeway, and room to play, but it could just never get started. There were inconsistent scene transitions, pointless plot details introduced, then dismissed. There were just too many unforgivable inconsistencies here to forgive, and yet, like the proverbial traffic accident, you couldnt really take your eyes off it. So much potential, so poor of an execution. Wait for this one on cable. The summer movies are limping home now..is it fall yet, I want Pleasantville, Apt Pupil, and What Dreams May Come. Please ($$)


Want to see more of my reel ramblings?..visit the Nearside at http://www.angelfire.com/ks/nearside

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