55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2005
As soon as I saw that Ralph Fiennes' head was too small for his bowler, I knew "The Avengers" was going to be a mess. Terribly miscast as superspy John Steed--Fiennes is charmless in the role that Patrick MacNee so ably brought to life on television--he resembles a child wearing his father's hat (and not too happy about it). Uma Thurman fares little better. While she was terrific in both "Kill Bill" films, she's way out of her league looks-wise and charisma-wise when compared to Diana Rigg's simply scrumptious Emma Peel. And then there's the story, or what passes for it, something about a scene-chewing though not particularly convincing Sean Connery controlling the world's weather. Director Jeremiah Chechik and whoever is willing to take the blame for the script get some of the surface details of "The Avengers" formula right but completely miss the boat with regard to the TV series' wit, style, and sophistication, another (typical) modern misstep of focusing on form and ignoring substance. To be fair, a lot apparently was cut from the film before its release, but it's hard to imagine anything salvaging "The Avengers"--and the DVD is sans deleted scenes, so the point is moot. Eddie Izzard pops up looking like a mod, shrunken Oliver Reed but gets the film's best line, though a brief sight gag featuring "Mother," the spy agency boss, also actually made me chuckle with the film and not at it. At least poor Patrick MacNee was smart enough to make sure his cameo did not require him to actually show up on screen; Diana Rigg was smarter for turning the film down outright. Why anyone bothered to remake "The Avengers" is beyond me, as the show worked fine as it was, and I can't think of any actors today who could embody Steed and Peel as well as the originals.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2003
i think it is almost common knowledge by now that this movie was cut to shreds after poor test screenings. A very good opening sequence was cut along with "backstory" scenes that would have ensured that the film made sense. Therefore this version has curiosity value because it shows exactly what happens to a film when a studio panics and decides that a film will exactly fit 90 minutes regardless of how it will affect the story. The directors cut is in the vaults and should be released on DVD now if only to show the fans what the original story was intended to be.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2004
I loved the original Avengers series. It was a near flawless program; at least until Diana Rigg left. This film bore little resemblance to that wonderful show. The original Avengers never shied away from the occasional flagrant pun or creating wonderful, almost comic book quality characters. However, in this film, the plot meanders. Ralph Fiennes has no comic ability, and the lovely and talented Uma Thurman pretty much sleepwalks through movie. These is no trace of the quirky style that made the Avengers so special. To those of us who have seen the TV series, it comes as little surprise that several of the original program's directors went on to success in the big screen . I doubt that anyone associated with this film will find that it leads to more career opportunities. The chemistry between Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee was always a delight to watch. Sadly in the film, Fienes looks uncomfortable, and Thurman looks bored.
This is a poorly conceived, uninspired waste of film. The television Avengers' unique character is nowhere to be found in this disaster.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2012
In the Nineties it was fashionable for Hollywood to adapt popular television series for the big screen the best being "The Fugitive" and the very worst, in my mind, "Lost In Space". There were high hopes riding on "The Avengers" in the Summer of 1998 with a dream cast of Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and the iconic Sean Connery. Things didn't bode well for the film when the film's release date kept getting pushed back. Things looked even worse when the film wasn't even previewed for the critics and naturally the daggers were drawn when it was seen and the public followed suit. I saw it in the theatre and was disappointed because it didn't meet my expectations. But what were my expectations? Is this a bad film because it isn't the film I thought it should be? I don't know why I revisited "The Avengers" but I'm glad I did. Common criticisms of the film at the time are these. Fiennes as John Steed and Thurman as Emma Peel had no chemistry. Connery as Sir August De Wynter was lackluster as the villain. London, a bustling city, is oddly bereft of people. Eddie Izzard as one of Connery's henchmen has no dialogue which is strange for a man who makes his living as a stand-up comic. For the first two criticisms I'll say the critics are dead wrong. For the second two I'll say that the makers of the film were making an ironic stab at comedy that may have gone over some people's heads. Viewing this film unbiased by the criticisms at the time of it's release I'll say it's chief virtues are not only Fiennes, Thurman, and Connery but also terrific supporting work by Jim Broadbent, Fiona Shaw, and Eileen Atkins. Patrick MacNee also has a decent cameo. The film has decent production values and special effects but they're secondary to some cheeky dialogue notably between Fiennes and Thurman. It's rare that I do a 180 on a film but that's the case here. This film may have its detractors but if you go into it with an open mind you may find delight in "The Avengers".
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2006
Let me just say that I love all the Avengers from Mrs. Gale to Tara King (for the most part) and I do love the actors of The Avengers movie but this movie stinks. It has nothing to do with the original show. First off Mrs. Peel never dealt with Mother. Mrs. Peel also did not have an on screen affair with Steed either. But Hollywood got it's paws on the story and ruined it. If your a fan of the show then you will hate this movie. I even tried to watch it a second time and just turned it off. This after Wal Mart had it for $5.00 on a discount rack. I should have been free.
Nothing in this movie blends with the real show. Nothing! I only wish that the real Avengers fans had a say with the script before they drove the image in the ground. I bet the script writer never really watched the show in the first place.
Stick with the original Avengers of the 60's. It can never be replicated. At least not in this movie.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2005
Being a big fan of Uma Thurman, I picked this up the other day on DVD (much to the dismay of my friends) for only $1 at a local pawn shop. I was curious see if the movie still came across as bad to me as it did when I originally saw it theatrically. Did it??? Please continue reading......
On the surface, The Avengers seemed to have all the required ingredients for a surefire summer blockbuster. You had plenty of star power in the form of Sean Connery, Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes. There was a 60 million dollar budget to spend and the movie was based on a 60's cult british secret agent series of the same name that had a dedicated and pretty sizable cult following. You also had Uma Thurman strutting around in an extremely tight leather body suit. Everything seemed initially in place to deliver an updated 90's theatrical version that could have been a cool/fun alternative to the James Bond films. But what ended up in theaters was the biggest bomb of the summer of 1998 (and of the whole year for that matter) and one of the worst films ever released by a major studio.
In its theatrical form, The Avengers was a jumbled, murky and incoherent mess that made hardly any sense no matter how hard you tried to figure out what exactly was going on. My friends and I saw it for free back in 1998 despite the fact that it had not been screened for critics (always a terrible sign) and left the theater with a very bad headache, wondering what in the hell we had just been subjected to. The worst sin that this movie commited was that besides the bizarre teddy-bear costumes (I'll get back to those later on!) this movie isn't even enjoyable on a so-bad-it's-good level.
The basic plot involves, more or less, an evil madman called Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) who has built a new weather-controlling device. The British government who has been watching his actions for quite some time. They send two of their secret agents, John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) and Emma Peel (Uma Thurman), to investigate what Sir August is up to and to thwart whatever attempts that he is making for world domination.
After the initial introductions to the two secret agents, they begin to check out Sir August's true plans and wherabouts. The movie quickly turns into a series of badly edited action scenes that fall flat every time and a series of scenes that literally make no sense at all in the grand scheme of things.
A perfect example is when John and Emma are traveling in their souped up car near the beginning (complete with a mini-coffee maker/bar), they are suddenly chased by giant remote control robotic bees. They eventually git rid of the pests, but after exiting their car it explodes for literally no reason at all. One of our first glimpses of Sir August involves a sort of meeting with some people to show off his new weather-control device. For some inexplicable reason, everyone is wearing giant multi-colored teddy-bear costumes! It truly must be seen to believed and if the rest of the movie had been as over-the-top and campy as this scene it would have been entertaining on a purely guilty pleasure level. But unfortunately, the rest of the film has the same flat and lifeless feel to it that the opening scenes exhibit.
There's also a completely unexplained subplot involving a clone of Uma Thurman running around that culminates with the real and fake Uma's batteling it out in a poorly choreographed fight in a very slow moving hot air balloon. Actually, that's this movie's biggest problem. Almost everything that happens seems unfinished and unexplained. There are some huge gaps in logic that will surely have any unsuspecting viewer screaming for someone to cut it off.
I read a while back that the original rough-cut of the movie that was test-screened with disasterous results was a little under 2 1/2 hours. Warner Bros. then demanded that the filmmakers cut the film down considerably, which they grudgingly obliged. The producers stated that the revised cut they turned in came in at 101 minutes with credits and they were actually happy with that cut. But Warner Bros. then proceeded to cut an additional 12 minutes from the film and the result was 89 minutes of terrible action scenes and no plot and logic. Do I think that the original cut would be better? It might certainly make considerably more sense, but the movie would still be awful due to some huge problems.
The acting all around is atrocious. Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. Ralph is stoic and just looks bored. Uma goes through the movie in a variety of tight outfits (including the previously mentioned leather body suit), but her efforts at a believable british accent are laughable. She tries her best but it is very evident that she was not comfortable with her role and the script in any way. The rest of the cast just seems embarassed to be in this movie.
The film will probably gain some sort of cult status based purely on Sean Connery's over-the-top yet terrible performance. I thought that his efforts came across as way too forced and I've always wondered if he did this movie just to pay some back-taxes or a sizable poker debt. He's been in some bad movies before, but he's still managed to turn in a solid performance (Medicine Man and Entrapment for instance). But in this movie, he's just awful in every respect.
Special effects are laughable throughout with some particularly hilarious matte and model work during the film's climax involving a hot air balloon traveling at about 5 miles an hour and some awful CGI tornadoes tearing up an equally bad replica of London. The final battle between Ralph and Sean is also very reminiscent of Highlander 2 for some reason (in terms of how bad it is choreographed and edited).
I'm not sure what Warner Bros. was thinking with this one. But then again, they did the exact same thing with 1999's equally terrible Wild Wild West (which at least made back most of its budget). While I haven't seen many of the original 60's episodes that this was based, it initially seemed that this had some great potential to be a fun little secret-agent/spy movie, but the execution was botched from all angles. It is clear that everyone involved was hoping for an alternative to the James Bond franchise, but this movie immediately squashed any chance of that. The marketing campaign seemed to focus on Uma Thurman in that tight leather body suit, but even that isn't enough to recommend sitting through this migraine inducing disaster.
(On the DVD front, I'm surprised that Warner Bros. didn't include the ton of cut footage from the original version as deleted scenes. It would have really helped to shed some light on what went wrong with this movie. Much to my surprise, there is actually a cult following for this film that have been petitioning Warner Bros. for quite some time to release the original 2 1/2 version, or at the very least the second 101 minute producer's cut. It's scary to think that some people actually liked this movie!)
The Avengers is rated PG-13 and contains violence and language.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2007
Sean Connery. Ralph Fiennes. Jim Broadbent. Patrick Macnee. Uma Thurman in a black castsuit. The Avengers. All these elements, mixed together, should equal a summer smash hit. With Patrick Macnee moved to a voice-over, and the style of 'The Avengers' not quite translated onto celluloid properly, the film suffers - but only a bit.
Why critics smacked this film is beyond understanding. It homages several episodes from the original series - where Mrs Peel is trapped on the never-ending staircase, and the whole 'controlling the weather' plot - and maintains the series' level of absurdity without going over the top. Sean Connery in a teddy bear suit? It could have come from an Emma Peel episode.
And yet Ralph Fiennes is a let down. He has no chemistry with Uma Thurman. He tries admirably, but you simply cannot beat Patrick Macnee.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2004
This movie is easily on my top-5 list of the worst films I have ever seen. The painful truth of the matter is that I saw this in the theater. What a horrible memory that is! I am a 33-year-old male, and in my entire life I have never wanted to leave the movie-house as badly as I wanted to while watching this pile of rubbish. I have never walked out on any movie, much to my dismay. I should have left during this one. In fact, I remember at least 4 people leaving the theater, never to return. One scene, in particular, haunts me to this very day. There is a complex conspiracy afoot, and the villains all meet one last time before the crime will unfold. They decide to wear disguises to conceal their identities. They are all dressed in giant, multi-colored Teddy Bear costumes!!! What? Yes, you read it correctly. It is so incredibly stupid that I have a hard time retelling it without my lower intestine reaching up and strangling my brain. (Note: that last obscure referrence is from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") Anyway, this film does not deserve a long review, so I will now sign-off. Rent or buy anything else, anything other than this movie. I hope my warning here will save lives......or at least save people from emotional scarring. Take care.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2004
To understand why The Avengers movie so totally misses the mark, you have to understand why the original Patrick Macnee/Diana Rigg British TV series worked so well. This requires a bit of historical perspective. Britain in the early/mid-1960s was a culture in which long-accepted norms were threatened by powerful social forces. The youth movement was forever redefining attitudes toward authority and government, Britain was birthing a type of music that would soon sweep the world, and, particularly important to The Avengers, the women's rights movement saw many a woman demand more from her future than a lifetime of housewifedom.
When Diana Rigg's character of Emma Peel was first introduced to The Avengers in 1965, the show had already been going for several years. The character of John Steed was well-established as a conservative, stiff upper lipped, tea drinking, bowler hatted, ex-military, prime example of upper crust middle-aged traditional British masculinity. Then along came his new partner Emma Peel: young, irreverent and outspoken, sexually aggressive, dressed in provocative mod fashion AND possessed of four doctorates. Bear in mind, at this time in Britain it was almost unheard of for a woman to be a doctor at all. Not only did Emma Peel defy that convention, she did it times four.
To John Steed, exemplar of the-way-things-are-and-should-be, Emma Peel was the living embodiment of forces threatening to destroy everything he held dear, everything to which he'd devoted his life, his duty, his sacred honor. To Peel, Steed was the sort of hidebound reactionary she'd been fighting against her entire life in order to be the sort of woman, the sort of whole person her sense of individuality demanded. The great thing about the John Steed/Emma Peel Avengers episodes was watching these two very different people, each representing social forces the other had every reason to despise, over time learn to value and respect what the other had to offer, eventually even to love each other. An endless source of debate among Avengers TV fans is whether or not Steed and Peel's relationship ever became sexual or was simply platonic. Whichever opinion you embrace, there can be no doubt the love and respect were there.
The Avengers TV show was profoundly fortunate in its casting of John Steed and Emma Peel. Patrick Macnee perfectly portrayed the somewhat stuffy, exceedingly proper man of action. The heart of a noble knight in a three-piece suit and bowler hat. But as good as Macnee was, Diana Rigg's casting as Emma Peel was the masterstroke. For Emma Peel to accomplish everything she had in life before ever meeting John Steed, she must have been a high-level genius. Fortunately for the show, in real life Diana Rigg has an IQ that looks like a zip code, as well as immense class, polish, sex appeal, a strong will, and the thespic skills of a successful Shakespearean actress. When Diana Rigg played a high-level genius with multiple doctorates it was believable. I can't imagine anyone else who could have portrayed Emma Peel so well.
So that's why the original Steed/Peel episodes of The Avengers rocked. And that's why the movie is a failure, because it has none of that going for it. It could be argued the social milieu within which the TV series existed, that provoked and informed its subtext, no longer exists and so the movie couldn't have used it anyway. Maybe. But I see no evidence the moviemakers were even aware of it. The props are there, the surface accoutrements, Steed's umbrella and bowler hat, Peel's catsuit, but the conflicts and dynamic that drove the original relationship and made it something truly special are nowhere to be found.
The casting in a problem. Ralph Fiennes tries hard but is hideously miscast. He's too young, too contemporary looking, to portray a rock-ribbed conservative like John Steed. Uma Thurman, though I respect her as an actress, was similarly a poor choice to play Emma Peel. From watching Uma Thurman in interviews I get a sense of her as an intelligent, thoughtful human being, but she simply can't convincingly portray a high-level genius like Emma Peel. Thurman's Peel is more coquettish than intellectual. When Diana Rigg says she has four doctorates you buy it. When Uma Thurman says the same thing, you can't.
There are other reasons to dislike this movie, but none as important as those just discussed. A great television show does not necessarily translate to a great movie when those making the latter fail to understand what made the former great, and the two leading roles are horribly miscast. If you want to enjoy The Avengers, check out the Patrick Macnee/Diana Rigg originals, and give this turkey a pass.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 1998
At last available to own - the only movie of 98 which I went to see twice at the cinema. Ignore the bad reviews - this is NOT the worst film you are going to see this year. Yes, ok the plot doesn't make a great deal of sense and why all the British casts' accents are worse than Uma's I will never know but this is definitely the bravest movie I have seen for a long time beautifully transferred onto DVD. Great costumes, great cars, great cast and a title sequence to die for all add up to a viewing experience not to be missed. It's a pity that we didn't get the missing scenes put back into the film (which would really have helped it to make more sense) and a pity that only one of the theatrical trailers is included (but if you watch this you'll get quite a lot of the cut footage anyway !) but all the other features are top rate (and so darned funky too). Crack open a bottle of champagne, sit back and enjoy a witty, entertaining, FUN movie which never insults the intelligence of it's audience. And Hollywood when are you going to learn that you shouldn't always listen to the preview audiences - we mere mortals do actually have brains and would like to see the film the director intended. More tea for me please, Mother - but go easy on the Macaroons !!