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*** 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 ...
The movie was truly enjoyable - it should of course be taken with a pinch of salt. The blending of futuristic technology with 30s decor is stunning. It reminded me of a comic-strip brought to life - the reason for what may seem like 'overacting'. And I love Sean Connery, even as the villian!
Yes, this movie is "that" bad! I can usually find something
interesting...something funny in every movie...
And the fact that Sean Connery was in this movie, and not even HE was any good just adds to the confusion.
The screenplay is more incoherent than "Freddy Got Fingered"--a horrible movie also, but at least it made me laugh a few times.
The characters are less interesting than those in "From Justin to Kelly"
This movie is almost like a "Plan 9 from Outer Space" but with modern special effects.
This movie wins my personal award for the "most unwatchable." Meaning, although I advise people to watch movies I might consider "bad" for themselves....PLEASE trust me...don't even bother. :)
I can barely remember any of it, it's a memory my mind is trying to repress.
My all-time "worst" movie award goes to Tom Green's "Freddy Got Fingered." But it's such PURE trash, parts of it are actually worth seeing....I don't know why...but it is. Maybe it's just because he acts so stupid it holds your interest. :)
Please do not rent this movie...patiently wait for it to be broadcast, or if you happen to see it on cable, I DARE you to sit through the whole thing w/out a burning desire to either fall asleep or change the channel! 'Cause if you rent it, you'll demand your money back. :-P
On it's own, this movie is a little odd, but not un-enjoyable.
The biggest problem with this movie is that it was advertised as a "Bond-Like" action thriller - which it isn't.
This movie simply failed to satisfy every target audience they had.
Fans of the TV series weren't happy with anyone besides Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee in the staring roles.
Anyone who wasn't a fan of the TV series was miss-lead into thinking they were seeing a "Bond-style" action movie and couldn't figure out what they were given instead.
If you enjoyed the silliness of the TV series (especially the later coloured "Emma Peel" episodes) and aren't so tied to Diana Rigg (Is anyone really all that tied to Patrick Macnee?) then you'll probably enjoy this movie.
Just relax and enjoy - don't ask "WHY" too much.
Whenever the movies The Avengers or Batman and Robin are mentioned the
most likely reactions are telling of someone who has seen and feels
burned by what they saw (until recently myself included). That the two
of these films star Uma Thurman is unfortunate. However, I would argue
that The Avengers isn't all that bad. Having recently viewed some of
the original television series I have come to appreciate what was
attempted with the movie.
This movie's tag-line is 'Saving the world in style' and that's precisely what it does. The Avengers is not a rough-and-tumble James Bond or Mission Impossible type action-adventure but a retro-stylish tongue-in-cheek jaunt through the marvelously preposterous diabolical schemes of an over-the-top madman. The tongue-in-cheek humour grates on most viewers but it is essential to this particular film in that it honours the source material wonderfully.
The casting of Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman is spot on, the overt double entendres between them is light and playful and they handle it with aplomb. The supporting cast is filled with wonderful character actors from Britan and Ireland including the likable Jim Broadbent and the delicious Fiona Shaw. Original TV series star Patrick Macnee makes an inventive cameo appearance.
If the film falls short in any way it is with Sean Connery. He is never presented with enough material to chew upon, and my only guess is that (seeing as it is a relatively short film) some of his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
That said, I think the film delivers precisely what it set out to do. That audiences stayed away and fans balked is a shame as it is a gloriously retro, stylish yet restrained romp. The opening title sequence is superb, the music fits perfectly and scenes such as the climactic inflatable ball river-walkers could have been iconic.
Worth a look, in the right mood. I suggest watching some of the original episodes first. This is no action movie clone... Makes you wish it had been a success to see where they would have gone with a sequel.
Perhaps if one had been British, this movie could have been rated even higher. But the light wry British silliness of the original television series that is so evidently delightful and transferred to the big screen, can only spread its deliciousness so far. What happens on the big screen is a sort of transmogrification into a large scale television episode. This movie is entertaining, but not spectacular in its movie format and comes across as a bit of fun television playfulness.
Like a classic bond film. action & innuendo . Like a Gothamesk Batman
super high tech , but on a 1950s background. I have no idea why people
constantly feel disappoint by re-imagined versions of old classics.
What did you think it is going to be like ? If you loved the originals
and are hoping this will be exactly the same . Don't watch it. But,
that would be a shame. Have an open mind and this is a brilliant film.
I am hoping there is a squall just like this one !
Many big mane actors placed cleverly in the film , congratulations to the casting director. (appart from steed , who was plainly a second choice)
I saw the Avengers movie at the cinema when it first came out and recall being suitably underwhelmed. As a fan of the original series it seemed all wrong in so many ways. Anyway out of curiosity I bought it on DVD to have anther look and it is actually rather good - it seems to have been improved by time. Rather like a cheap bottle of plonk which has surprisingly matured into a rather fine vintage. So what is better now? Firstly the theme of a lunatic madman trying to control the world's weather has a timely resonance it perhaps didn't have 10 years ago. Climate change topicality aside what was enjoyable was the self consciously clipped and pun laden dialogue between Peel and Steed. 10 years ago we all hated both depictions as somehow not being true to the original but what one realises is that this is two people very knowingly playing (with) the parts and dialogue in a way which is a perfect update and seems to really work now The humour and irony are very nicely understated - it pulls off that all but impossible combination of parody and thriller in a way Bond used to do before it went all machismo.. The only real shame is that it is so short. So if you if you saw it before and hated it - perhaps try again you may be pleasantly surprised.
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