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As it turns out, the one group of diabolical masterminds that `The
Avengers' can't outwit is film editors.
Still, despite its well-documented flaws, this movie doesn't quite deserve the peasants-with-pitchforks-and-torches reception that it got from fans of the 1960s British TV series.
For those who come to it with no expectations, well, your expectations won't necessarily be exceeded, but there are some fun bits. The movie version is as mindless as typical Hollywood summer action fare, but no worse.
First, the good news: screenwriter Don MacPherson does draw on a wealth of wacky plot points from the series; like that show, the movie does have stylish fashions and sets; it doesn't take itself too seriously.
But the heart of the show was the rapport between Patrick Macnee, playing suave agent John Steed, and his various leading ladies. In Cathy Gale, the brisk, buxom Honor Blackman created a leather-clad woman warrior who was still a feeling person. With her fashion-model figure and classical theater background, Diana Rigg made Emma Peel the ultimate in intelligence and charm. Voluptuous Linda Thorson was perhaps too young, but she brought a combination of physicality and bubbliness to Tara King.
Macnee provided graceful support to these three very different actresses, and the show arguably reached its height during the black-and-white Diana Rigg season. While Rigg made an arch, androgynous Emma Peel, her chemistry with Macnee produced role models for female-male relations.
It's a difficult formula to emulate, and there may have been worse choices that Ralph Fiennes as the movie Steed. The Rock comes to mind. But while Fiennes is attractive and seems kindly off-screen, on-screen he generates all the warmth and charm of week-old bath water.
And while Macnee did as few stunts as possible _ as even a cursory glance at a TV episode clearly shows _ he at least looked formidable. Fiennes looks like a gust of wind would blow him away _ unfortunate, considering the film's weather-related plot.
In contrast, the athletic Uma Thurman creates her own special effect as Emma Peel. Her dangerous curves seem to defy the laws of physics, filling catsuits in ways that the underendowed Diana Rigg couldn't imagine, much less match.
And Thurman's Emma starts out well, with her early scenes providing much of Rigg's breezy playfulness. Alas, the more time she spends with Fiennes, the more she mimics his mumbling, diffident performance. As the scenes jump around almost at random, Thurman's version of Emma becomes equally fractured.
Sean Connery gives a one-note performance, and one wishes that only dogs could hear him. Of course, the choppy editing doesn't give him a chance at grace notes. The megalomaniacs on TV episodes were often eccentrics in a script filled with eccentrics, with highly personal grievances and plots.
The movie lacks those charming supporting characters, and in this underpopulated movie, Connery is the obvious bad guy right from the start. Still, even if the cast is adrift, there is some genuine feeling between the Steed and Peel characters. It's a pale copy of the Macnee-Rigg pairing, but one suspects there was a better movie here that got derailed on the Hollywood assembly line.
It looked good on the trailers, and with Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and
Sean Connery how could there be anything too wrong with it? Has Ralph
Fiennes ever been in a disappointing movie? Well, if he hasn't before, he
certainly has now.
The dialogue was forced, the plot came out too rapid fire, and it's never really even explained who was who. There were some good special effects, but movies that think special effects can cover up bad plot are just wrong.
This movie was just bad. I'll give a D and I really wish I hadn't wasted even 87 minutes of my time.
I loved it.
The opening credits alone are astonishing, and sets the tone for a vintage movie that still holds up to this day If you are expecting another Tomb Raiser, Entrapment, or Aeon Flux, think again.
The Avengers was a very hip, very surreal spy serial which carries over superbly into the movie.
Sexy, smart, and oh so Britishly prim.
I give it ten pounds, and a shilling for the way they awarded a very transparent cameo.
Avengers, you're needed.
I felt forced to write a comment on this movie, because I had previously found it on the top list of worst movies of all times. I still believe it was a nice try, good actors, good acting and lyrically beautiful! I guess most people who had seen this movie concentrated too much on the plot, which actually doesn't really exist, but the movie is not about a possible interesting plot. The movie Avengers entertain us in a different way, it is more like a theatrical piece on the big screen. I really enjoyed the spoken words in the movie, poems replaced conversations. And all this lingual beauty put in a colorful, amazingly well-made, painting-like cinematography. This movie is like indulging ourselves in the world of beautiful paintings and colors, and literature at the same time. So who cares about any plot?
As a mild fan of the original series, I was looking forward to this film.
Luckily it didn't disappoint. Lying somewhere between Bond and Austin
Powers, The Avengers, for mine, captures the best elements from both.
Stylish to the extreme, The Avengers never lets trivial things like plot and reality get in the way of having a good time. Steed and Peel seem more interested in where the next cup of tea is coming from, than saving the world from a diabolical baddy.
The protagonists are provided wonderfully by Fiennes and Thurman. Not so much like the originals, but rather exaggerated versions of them. With their arch delivery and restrained manner, it isn't so much about what they say, but how they say it. Both cut stunning figures in (and out) of various costumes. Their roving eyes are subtle but unmistakable.
Connery turns up for over-the-top bad guy duties and relishes the chance to act like a complete loon. When uttering such priceless gems as; "one should never fear, being wet", Connery is as strangely disturbing as he is funny.
As previously mentioned, The Avengers is on style overload. This is provided across the board from the polished cinematography to the snazzy music. Check out the marvellous credit sequence, for just a taster.
Trouble only strikes the film, when as Hollywood necessitates, the climatic fight between Fiennes and Connery comes around. In reaching for big spectacle, the result is unfortunately sluggish. The charming closing scenes recover what was lost however, and left me thirsty for more.
The Avengers has certainly proven to be a film that doesn't please everyone. The public and critics alike, unsure how to take it's quirky, low-key nature, have reacted with vitriol. But as the many wise and thoughtful comments on this message board (in amongst the inane) prove, there is an audience for this film. An intelligent audience, that will be enjoying this film long after the majority of vacant, big budget, Hollywood nonsense has been forgotten.
The Avengers is based on the classic 60's TV series of the same name, which
starred Patrick Macnee as well-dressed gentleman secret agent John Steed,
and Diana Rigg as his cool, athletic and deadly partner (Mrs.) Emma Peel.
Fiennes and Thurman take on the roles for this long awaited big-budget
The year is 1999, and the sixties have never ended. When the Prospero Project, which aimed to control the country's weather, is destroyed, all evidence points to the culprit being Dr. Emma Peel, a leading physicist at the institute. The Ministry's top agent, John Steed, is assigned to investigate. Accompanied by Mrs. Peel, they discover a terrible plan concocted by a diabolical mastermind
Firstly, this film is nowhere near as bad as most critics have said it is. It is fairly disjointed, but that is only because Warners' executives ordered frantic last-minute editing to `pace it up'. They obviously didn't understand the basis of the film, as the utter Englishness and strangeness is part and parcel of the whole concept. Fiennes and Thurman are superb as the leads, although the former is a little too young. The script by Don MacPherson (who like the director and producer is a long time fan) is first class, and the direction is outstanding with Checick capturing to perfection the surreal weirdness that the series is famous for. But it is Sean Connery, as loopy meteorologist Sir August DeWynter, who steals the show. He bounds through the film in overdrive, nutty as squirrel droppings, running off with every scene. Connery is obviously having a ball.
The movie is a perfect addition to the series, with all of its strengths and only one small concession to Hollywood (I'm not saying what). It is definitely the best film of the year so far: exciting, funny, suspenseful and highly enjoyable. Just one thing though- don't take it too seriously. When you see our two heroes being chased along country lanes by giant robot wasps, you'll know it's all just a bit of fun.
P.S. I don't care what you send in e-mails, or if you firebomb my house, because this film is brilliant and I'll take you all on, in a group or one by one, to prove it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the worst film ever made with good actors bar none. What were they thinking. They have assembled some of the cream of Hollywood acting talent and managed to get the worst performance of each leading roles career.It is a miracle that Sean Connery, Uma Thurman and Ralph Feinnes were all duped into thinking that this was a Stella project to work on.The direction is poor.The script is dreadful.Thurmans accent is awful.Even the effects are below par.The exec who commissioned this tosh must have lost his job after this was aired. It is so bad that it should have been puled before decent people had the displeasure of watching it. Seriously mad man taking over the world with bad weather, I know it is only fiction but how unberleiverble can you get. This film serves as a fine example that you should never under any circumstances revert back to the past. If I could put a lower score I would have done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 1990's saw a vogue for making motion pictures based on vintage
television shows, 'such as 'The Fugitive', 'Mission: Impossible',
'Sergeant Bilko', 'Lost In Space', 'The Beverly Hillbillies' and 'The
Saint'. Most ( though not all ) were not terribly good, for the simple
reason that their makers were unable to recapture the ingredients which
had made the originals so successful. A movie based on the British spy
show 'The Avengers' was announced as far back as 1987, with Mel Gibson
( also said to have purchased the rights from E.M.I. ) as 'Steed'.
These rumours persisted well into the 1990's, when after the success of
'Basic Instinct', the role of 'Mrs.Emma Peel' was tipped to go to
Sharon Stone. What sort of movie would have resulted with these leads
we can only guess at, but I am glad that it was never made.
Jerry Weintraub, a self-proclaimed fan of the show, hired Don Macpherson to write a script that was true to the style of the original. It centred on a madman who has created a weather control machine, and plans to use it to blackmail the world's governments into paying him for their weather, or else he will condemn them to perpetual winter. It was a witty, imaginative, and outrageous piece of work.
As 'Steed', Ralph Fiennes of 'The English Patient' was cast, with Uma Thurman of 'Pulp Fiction' taking up the role of 'Emma'. Weintraub then pulled off another major casting coup - Sir Sean Connery. The former 'James Bond' was hired to play the villain, necessitating a major rewrite. The character of 'Merryweather' became 'Sir August De Wynter', who lives in a mansion called 'Hallucinogen Hall', and is so fixated by Emma he clones her. In a thrilling opening, the clone gains illegal access to 'The Prospero Project', which she destroys. The real Emma is naturally blamed, and Mother calls on Steed to investigate.
The film had a decent budget, but was not on a level-playing field with say 'Star Wars' or 'Harry Potter'; nevertheless, it boasts stupendous art direction, cinematography by by Roger Pratt, and music by Joel McNeely. Director Jeremiah Chechik skilfully recreated the look and setting of the series - Agatha Christie England - but mixed with a dose of Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil'. There is humour, but not of the 'funny ha-ha' variety; for instance, the scene in the conference room in which Sir August's henchmen are kitted out in teddy bear costumes. This was intended to spoof similar scenes in Bond films such as 'Thunderball'.
Of the supporting cast, Eileen Atkins shone as the gun-toting spinster 'Alice'. Comedian Eddie Izzard played 'Bailey', Sir August's ( mostly mute ) henchman, with Jim Broadbent delightful as Steed's macaroon-munching boss 'Mother'.
'The Avengers' was all set for a major launch as Warner Brothers top summer release, but then disaster struck. It registered poorly with a preview audience in Arizona ( why Arizona, for heaven's sake? ), causing it to be recalled for major edits. We shall probably never know the name of the man who butchered the film, but I suspect his first name may have been 'Sweeney'. He took out major scenes, such as the 'Prospero Project' opening, and Sir August's 'Frankenstein'-like creation of 'Bad Emma'.
Cut down from a two-hour running time to a paltry eighty-five minutes, 'The Avengers' opened ( rather aptly ) in August to a universal drubbing from critics and public alike. The overkill of bad reviews was enough to destroy any chance the film had of becoming a hit.
While the film had its flaws, it certainly did not deserve the opprobrium heaped upon it on its release. Yes, Fiennes and Thurman were not Macnee and Rigg, nor were they intended to be. This was a NEW 'Avengers', intended to be a film for the twenty-first century.
Years after its release, the movie has a fan base, whose main aim is to see the original restored. Its worth remembering that Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' was regarded as a boring flop in 1982, now is thought of as a sci-fi classic. I hope that someday 'The Avengers' can pull off the similar feat of being regarded in a whole new light.
I can't remember the last time I have seen such a horrible movie. Went to see it with my sister and walked out of the theater. First time I've ever done that. It's a shame too, because I'm such a fan of Sean Connery. However, I have a real problem with Uma Thurman. She keeps getting worse and worse in each of her movies. What's up with that. But back to the movie - I never saw the television series so I'm not really qualified to compare the two. But after watching the movie, I have no desire to see the show. I can't understand why it didn't work, but if I ever run into Mr. Connery I'm going to ask for my $6.00 dollars back. It's the least he could do
I am amazed at how well an American film has captured the matter-of-fact
surrealism which the mathematician Dodgson(Lewis Carroll)gave to his
dream-child, Alice, as also it recalls the more knowing, and oh-so-polite
deconstruction wrought by the media-saavy British children of the 60's upon
the distressed remnants of England's Imperial aplomb!
Of course, as Oscar Wilde may not have said, Satire revisited is only a lukewarm cup of tea. But then nostalgia - especially when the satire was so gentle anyway - has its own charms. And there was, anyway, a hefty dose of nostalgia amidst the cool insouciance of the original. Its very modernity was made to seem almost an expression of polite insistence on whatever surreal manifestation of tradition was encountered. It was the utterly unruffled mien of the original which prevailed over all lapses from reason and good taste. So, at its best, in the new cinema version.
This is indeed a brave try by Hollywood to draw us back into that black-and-white psychedelia of swinging sixties British commercial television. The sheer madness of the enterprise almost works - if the money-men hadn't had cold feet at the last minute, we might have been enjoying a really remarkable fantasy film. As it is, we must content ourselves with a merely very amusing piece of whimsy. Even through the plot-holes left by a nervous editor we can see some wonderfully mad logic at work: The Escher-inspired architecture of the baddy's stately home, in which Mrs Peel at one point loses her way, encapsulates this whole dream-trip of a movie.
And for those who don't 'get it', I can only say, Humour is like that: Very dependent on individual taste.
But even allowing for taste, it is a sad reflection on public taste that 'The Avengers' overwhelmingly offends filmgoers who are probably quite prepared to accept the ever more overblown superheroes of a more violent tradition, such as 'Batman' or 'The Hulk'. Of course, these two are clearly representative of that particularly adolescent taste for the extreme and crude for which the contemporary Hollywood production-line largely exists. (There is every sign that Eddie Izzard's character was originally intended to satirize mega-buck entertainment and mega-buck villains as being really just spoiled brats with their expensive toys.) The genteel quirks of the English-inspired concept of 'The Avengers' are - in their essence, and however silly - just too irritatingly grown-up for such hyperactive youth ever to endure sitting still for!
A pity the film was not left alone upon release to find its own friends - like a stray cat, that will carefully choose whom it will exercise it's feline charm upon. And what more feline than Uma Thurman in Mrs. Peel's cat-suit?!
This is certainly not the sort of film to toss into an auditorium full of baying first-run morons.
But I suspect that it is a film with more than one life ...
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