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The 100




Avengers, The
(1998)
Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 7.5 Beans

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VHS - DVD
t's always a crapshoot to go to the theatre on opening day for a new flick. You just really never know if it's going to be any good. I usually wait until I hear and read some things before I go to make sure that I'm not going to waste cash on a flaming wreck of a film.

Well, I went to see "The Avengers", and I hope now that I have learned this valuable lesson for the last time. There is something heartbreaking about watching a movie that starts off pretty good and then quickly disintegrates right before your eyes. It's been quite a while since I've seen a more confused, garbled attempt at entertainment.

Based on the hit 60's TV show, "The Avengers" follows John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) and Dr. Emma Peel (Uma Thurman), two agents from the governmental association known as the Ministry, run by Mother (Jim Broadbent) and Father (Fiona Shaw). Apparantly, the weather grid known as the Prospero Project has gone down and has been taken over by rich, nutty Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) who plans to take over London (or all of the UK, I'm not sure) by destroying it with weather.

This is all of the plot I could comprehend and pass on to you. It's never clear why, exactly, de Wynter, wants to do this, or how. By the film's conclusion, Steed and Peel find de Wynter and his weather contraption in their secret hideout (it's on an island in London I think, which is hard to imagine, but it's never really explained) and the action looks likes it was edited together with a cuisinart. Nothing flows together or makes much sense.

The director of this was Jeremiah Chechik ("Diabolique"). Now I defended Chechik when I reviewed "Diabolique", believing that his clashes with Sharon Stone were the root of that film's problems. With "The Avengers" he has no excuse at all. A lot of energy was used up trying to maintain a hip and retro look to the film that wears thin about ten minutes into it, and after about thirty minutes you realize that's all "The Avengers" has to offer.

The performances by Fiennes, Thurman, and Connery are adequate, but the ridiculously simple-minded script undercuts them at every given opportunity. Connery, at one point, holds some sort of business meeting at a place called Wonderland Weather, where all of the board members are dressed up like giant day-glo teddy bears. Fiennes and Thurman are involved in a chase scene with large mechanical wasps with machine guns shooting at their car (I won't even get into how bad the computer animation here is). There is even a subplot involving cloning Emma Peel that's given about one line of explanation and then disregarded. I don't know who to blame for the complete botch job, that even the cataclysmic weather sequences where London is beseiged with blizzards and twisters, is reduced to.

A few hours after watching this misbegotten failure I read an article where a critic mentioned that "The Avengers" was not being shown in advance for critics (which is a sign that the studio knows it has a turkey on its hands and it wants enough suckers-like me-to go see it before they hear how terrible it is), and that it originally was to be released in June and was, unexplainably, pushed back till now.

It's always a good idea to be a well-informed movie-goer, and to look before you leap. Sometimes, there will be only a creative and intellectual abyss for you to land in.


Other reviews for this movie:

David Conner
Michael Miller
Scott Murdock




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