good back-story, and good acting
An Exercise In Nonsense
Watching it is like watching the spectacle of a class clown at their best: you laugh at their jokes, instigate their defiance, and "ooooh" when they get in trouble.
It's always a great pleasure to see Sean Connery, Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes, but here in this "The Avengers", all three are inappropriate for their respective roles. The story is more than ordinary, it has no salt and pepper, no tension, no suspense, no humor, it's not attractive at all. There is no comparison with the original series with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee. Just a waste of time and money. They were all better staying at home and doing nothing!
"The Avengers" is one of the biggest money-losers of the decade. I've read estimates that it lost $40,000,000...and with a film this clumsily and expensively made, I can certainly understand it. Initial previews went disastrously for the studio and they had the brilliant idea of trimming 26 minutes from the movie. Unfortunately, this made the film choppy and incomprehensible...and audience members stayed away in droves. So why did I decide to watch it? It was simply too infamously bad for me to resist it!The plot is a confusing mess involving a duplicate Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) and a guy who can apparently control the weather (Sean Connery). But the characterization of these and all the people seemed unimportant and everyone in the film lacks depth...and you have no idea WHY they do what they do. Instead the film focuses heavily on overly mannered dialog (to the point of being incredibly annoying), lots of expensive stunts (something never seen in the original TV show) and gadgets (such as giant robotic wasps, an invisible agent as well as a board meeting where EVERYONE is inexplicably dressed like the Grateful Dead bears...also the sorts of thing not seen in the TV show, thank God). Clearly, the folks who made the film had a severe lack of reverence for the source material...which would irritate the die-hard fans. And, the incomprehensibility and constant style over substance would certainly irritate all the rest of us! This is an expensive looking film which just doesn't make much sense, isn't entertaining and substitutes stunts and gadgets for plot. So, is it as bad as its reputation? Perhaps not...but dollar for dollar, you'd be very hard-pressed to find a film that delivers this little for the dollar! It's wastefully bad...and about as much fun as a case of the Shingles.
This big-budget flop is not without its good points, seeing as it contains enough offhand weirdness and odd situations to appeal to most bad movie fans. Although its about as far away from the original television series as you can get, there's this retro '60s thing going on with the film which makes it pretty amusing to watch. Although the fact that the cast members are obviously taking everything as a joke does get on your nerves after a while, I consider this to be an enjoyable failure and I must admit that I pretty much enjoyed some of the individual scenes.You know you're in for a crazy time with the film's opening, which sees Steed walking down an apparently normal English street only to be attacked by a number of surprise assailants. For example, at one moment a whistling milkman smashes two empty bottles together to use them as weapons as he lunges as Steed. This exceptionally odd beginning sets the campy tone for the rest of the film, which is not for all tastes it has to be said.Packed with cheesily overemphasised dialogue, lots of one-liners and innuendos worthy of a Bond movie, THE AVENGERS has the benefit of a huge budget to include lots of nifty (but hardly convincing) computer effects. These include an attack by a swarm of mechanical bees, characters walking in see-through bubbles and the climatic "storm within a building" scene which is sufficiently loud and over-the-top enough to be a crowd-pleasing event. Elsewhere, we have the ever-odd Eddie Izzard as a mute henchman, one of the least threatening ever to grace a cinema (or television) screen, and bad guys dressed up as giant multicoloured teddy bears in order to disguise their identities.Ralph Fiennes (looking a lot like a young version of Peter Cushing) essays the role of the straight-faced John Steed, and is pretty good; Uma Thurman plays the leather-suited Emma Peel: one wonders why she agreed to be in such a fantastic movie again after the failure of BATMAN & ROBIN but I guess she's a glutton for punishment. Sean Connery is the non-threatening chief villain, and has had enough experience with Bond villains in order to know how to play it, but his performance is somewhat weak. Elsewhere, we have Jim Broadbent as the wheelchair-bound Mother, leader of the agents, and a funny turn from Patrick Macnee as an invisible agent (!).The major problem is the obvious cutting that went on with the film after initial test screenings, which undoubtedly make events confusing at times. In my mind this just adds to the weirdness. See it for yourself to find out how.
It's far too easy to view this film with rose tinted glasses that look back at the old TV series, and then feel that this film is not true to them.Or that this was a modern - well 1998 - remake of a 1960s TV series, but brought up to date, but with no relation to the original other than the names of the characters.It wasn't. and it wasn't meant to be.This was Ralph Fiennes playing Patrick MacNee playing John Steed, and Uma Thurman playing Diana Rigg playing Emma Peel.Yes, it had Eddie Izzard, and Shaun Ryder in it, and they were bad, but ignore them, they didn't either make or break the film.My first memory of The Avengers was probably the Linda Thorson / Tara King series, back in 1968 (when I was 5years old) and I have since seen the Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Joanna Lumley episodes... (a bit out of the original order, but I can't help when I was born)And the Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes version is nothing if not true to those characters, the characterisations, and the story lines from those TV series.Those were every bit as far fetched, over the top, silly, bizarre, illogical, strange, weird and farcical as parts of this film version.Except no-one appears to have watched this film version with the same affection as they would watch the original TV series(s).I like it, and I think if you approach it like you would a re-run of one of the earlier TV series, and divorce yourself from reality, put yourself into the idiom of The Avengers, then I think you can enjoy this film, too. Distance yourself from nostalgia, Since Sean Connery was also in this film - which brings the 1960s James Bond films to mind, think of this film more like the original Casino Royale (with David Niven as James Bond, and Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond) rather than the gritty modern Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. It's not a 1998 film - it's just another episode in a weird 1960s TV series.