90 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, August 14, 1998
Directed by Randa Haines
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Shaw & Eddie Izzard
Cameo (voice only): Patrick Macnee
This film is on the Worst of 1998 list.
Weather control plot betrays idiocy in 'The Avengers'
I remember in the early 1980s there was a nefarious millionaire on the soap opera "General Hospital" who tried to take over the world's weather. He turned summer into winter in fictitious Port Charles while Luke and Laura, the show's heroic couple de jour, found adventure trying to put an end to his evil plan.
While this was hardly the advent of the Maniac With a Weather Machine plot, I would hope that this sort of simpleton scenario would restrict itself to comic books and forgotten drive-in movies.
No such luck. This week Warner Bros. sneaked into theaters an unfortunate $60-million-plus bomb -- the feature film version of the classic, classy and campy, oh-so-British '60s spy series "The Avengers" -- and it features, you guessed it, a nefarious Scottish lord who holds the world ransom with a weather machine.
The baddie billionaire (inflation, you know) is played with irritating aplomb by Sean Connery, but don't let his good reputation fool you. This kind of plot betrays a certain contagious idiocy at the screenplay level, and "The Avengers" is one big, endemic mess, made worse by chainsaw editing that leaves any sense of flow or tangible storytelling on the cutting room floor.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechick, the hand behind the contemptible remake of "Diabolique," this picture is so busy being slick, stylish and surreal it doesn't even try to make sense.
A series of unintelligible, cartoon-quality capture-and-escape sequences in which gentleman spy John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) and sexy scientist sidekick Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) battle giant robotic attack bugs and meet invisible men, this disaster doesn't even have a plot until the last 20 minutes when Connery demands all the world's governments chip in billions or he'll fire up his machine and muck with global weather systems.
Yes, Uma Thurman looks pretty hot in her Emma Peel cat suit. Yes, Ralph Fiennes looks damn dapper in the waistcoat and bowler. But if that's all your in it for, you can look at the movie posters for free, so what else does the picture have to offer?
The answer is zip. Looks is all "The Avengers" has going for it and production designer Stuart Craig's striking neo-retro vision isn't nearly enough to overcome paltry performances from the horribly miscast Fiennes and Thruman, who fail to even lend credence to their scripted sexual tension.