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The Avengers (1998)
Mrs. Peel - You're needed - AGAIN!
Warner Bros. fantasies have always had a certain memorable flare. Dating back to films like "Superman" and "Blade Runner", a viewer could always be guaranteed at least a ticket into another world. "The Avengers" would have been that next "big" thing for Warner Bros. had it not been so shoddily edited at the last minute. It should be duly noted, however, that this film had all the signs of a thanksgiving turkey: It's release date, which was moved from late June to the dog days of August. Then the fact that no press screenings have been allowed for critics. No good can come of these prophecies.
"The Avengers", which, at best, is a second rate version of the original "Batman" has all the features of your top blockbuster: A Big name or two, a plethora of explosions, and enough special-effects to put "Godzilla" to shame. The Plot follows the exploits of the legendary secret agents John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) and Emma Peel (Uma Thurman), as they do battle with a maniacal meteorologist (Sean Connery) who has intentions on controlling the world's weather. Simple enough. Or so one would have thought. It would appear that some 25 minutes (!) was excised from the film as a result of poor test screenings. As history has told, no good comes from test screenings. As a result, the film becomes so utterly confusing that the viewer would sooner give up, rather than be insulted by a film that insists on staying one step ahead of you at all times. Only potentially good films are butchered in an attempt to make the film more appealing to youngster's attention spans. But make no mistake about it, this film is certainly not for children. Perhaps the last half hour will provide enough enjoyable action (and it does, believe me!) to distract them, but up until then the film consists of awkward dialogue, inane action (Gigantic teddy bears, anyone?), and an uncomfortable overdose of strangeness.
The cast, at one time, might have been game, but only once in a while does Ralph Fiennes even crack a smile. Thurman has apparently got the English accent down perfectly, but the only problem lies in the fact that she forgets to give a performance worth remembering. And last, but certainly not least, Sean Connery. Sadly, he doesn't even look like he wants to take over the world. Only once, in a mumbled rant, does he evoke some feelings of evil. That being said, "The Avengers" is a technical masterpiece. Providing the viewer with a universe of dazzling sets (that should at least be nominated for an oscar), imaginative visual effects, and beautiful costumes, one almost forgets that England doesn't look like this anymore. Unless of course, you live there. The score, composed by Joel McNeely proves to be one of the coolest scores ever produced. Inducing excitement, tension, and a little smoothness, provided by some nifty jazz notes. All of which the film is unable to do itself. For those who won't enjoy this film, it is mercifully brief. So brief to the point that it's strange. It jumps from a one hour section of the beginning to a half hour of climactic action that the viewer blinks and the movie might just be rolling into the credits. One can only hope for an improvement with a director's cut. Until then, this film should gain cult status before it makes it's way to video. Which I'm sure will be soon.
Out Of Four - **