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Awesome: 0.63%
Worth A Look: 5.06%
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10 reviews, 98 user ratings

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Avengers, The (1998)
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by Jack Sommersby

"Awkward 'Avengers'"
2 stars

Not as bad as you've probably heard. In fact, if a younger Michael Caine had starred in it and a more suitable director had been assigned, the material might've really taken off.

The critically-savaged The Avengers certainly has more than its share of flaws and isn't recommendable, but it's not a movie anybody needs to be ashamed of. In a day and age of mega-budgeted superhero extravaganzas, it was quite risky for the moviemakers to take a low-key 1960s TV series and make a fairly low-key Hollywood rendition of it. Shot by shot, scene by scene, the movie has been meticulously thought-out -- it's not some slapdash production spilling forth with uncouthness at each and every turn, which is a merit in that it's professionally assured but ultimately detrimental in that it's too overcontrolled to fully break out of second gear when it needs to in the final sections. The director is Jeremiah Chechik, who brought some agility to his debut National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and some sustained eeriness to the not-bad Diabolique remake; here, working in another altogether different genre, his improved visual sense is in tune with the loopy material, but his staging and execution is almost always stuck in limbo, trying for various effects yet stopping just short of achieving them. Take the very first scene where we're introduced to the hero, British super-agent John Steed (Ralph Fiennes): leaving his house in a quaint neighborhood in the morning, he strolls down the street and proceeds to calmly knock off some adversaries disguised as kindly neighbors and milkmen and policemen along the way; the tone should be breezily light like in a similar opening scene in the Steve Martin comedy Roxanne (which involved the taking down of two bullies with the use of a mere tennis racket), but it's labored instead, and already we suspect that throughout the intent isn't going to match up with the desired result. Steed reports for duty and is partnered up with the attractive female operative Emma Peel (Uma Thurman), and we get scenes of friendly friction between these two who believe they're superior to the other -- punchy playfulness, if you will. But there isn't a spark of chemistry because these crucial lead roles have been unfortunately cast with two of the least spontaneous thespians imaginable. Fiennes is too cerebral and doesn't have the necessary charisma and derring-do; he's reticent and held-in, and seems to be standing in for the real star to show up on the set. And Thurman, lacking much in the way of instinct and imagination, fails to make a distinctive impression. Paired together, they strive for a witty rapport that never coalesces and an eccentric naturalism that makes you aware of the effort.

So with a clunker of a hero and heroine, The Avengers desperately needs a standout villain and a powerhouse performance behind it. But the evil genius Sir August De Wynter, who's developed a meteorological breakthrough that enables him to manipulate the world's climate and wants to blackmail the world governments into paying him millions or else he'll unleash inhuman cold and heat, is just as uninteresting, and Connery, sleepwalking rather than forcefully punctuating, is equally underwhelming. There's potential where De Wynter has a group of scientists in a room seated at a table in colorful bear costumes so their identities aren't compromised (he's offering them the chance to be complicit in his dastardly plan), but Connery doesn't inject any relish into his dialogue, and Chechik stops short of giving the scene the zany outrageousness that would put it over. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance ("De Wynter can turn everything so cold we'll have to go to Hell just to warm up") we should be swept up in it all like we are during some of the James Bond adventures, but there's not a whisper of immediacy to the proceedings, and all we can think about are the numerous chalk marks the movie isn't hitting. The director does rise to the occasion in a standout action sequence where the heroes try to outrun a swarm of machine-gunning mechanical bees, with acute editing and superb special effects giving it a brief you-are-there vitality, but even here Chechik miscalculates by bringing it to a halt right when we're primed for more. And the final confrontation involving Steed and De Wynter fencing on a narrow platform while huge storm waves crash around them hasn't been engineered with much aplomb. Thankfully, there's the production designer Stuart Craig and the cinematographer Roger Pratt coming through with wondrous sets and exquisite lighting that give us something to latch onto when our attention starts to falter. And John McNeely's spirited music score has a liveliness far more animated than the dullards populating the film frame. The Avengers isn't an all-out disgrace of the odious order of the wretched Batman Forever, and it contains a fair share of committed intelligence. Overall, though, it's impersonal and unaffecting, with the audience exerting more in the way of effort trying to stay involved in it than the moviemakers have spent supplying bursts of creative titillation to sustain our involvement. It's only the bears and the bees that stay with us.

Reportedly, after a poor test screening in Phoenix the running time was drastically cut from two hours to this ninety-minute theatrical version. So maybe a director's cut on DVD will be made available sometime.

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originally posted: 05/10/12 16:28:18
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User Comments

4/26/16 Ken Steaming pile of smelly dog shit! 1 stars
2/20/14 Justin R. Stupid, stupid film!!! 1 stars
1/22/13 dr.lao Good only for playing MST3K, the Home Game 1 stars
7/20/12 Sean Harrison It's a shame that Sean Connery's name was attached to this. 2 stars
10/05/11 torturedsoul What a sad world where huge sums of money are spent on such rubbish 1 stars
7/12/09 danny boy Sean Connery in a bear suit. 1 stars
11/12/08 The Dork Knight gaaaaahhh! absolute crap!! 1 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 1 stars
8/13/08 Brenda could not finish it . was horrible dull! 1 stars
7/25/08 The Dork Knight Avoid. 1 stars
7/05/08 dan halberg The teddy bear scene was funny. Otherwise crap 1 stars
10/28/07 J. Shaw You have to take it for what it is - junk food. If you look at it that way, it's kinda fun! 4 stars
4/09/07 JM Synth Fantastic set design, occassional spark of imagination, but a poor film overall 2 stars
4/14/06 mr.mike didn't think it was that bad 4 stars
11/23/05 Narcs This movie was waste of my money.. what a waste of time and taste. 1 stars
9/07/05 paki_munda how awful was this 1 stars
8/12/05 ES Mr. Connery you've been so graious by selling out in the past, please once more= ok 1 stars
6/21/05 Roland Berry Don't watch this film if you are a fan of the TV series. 1 stars
3/21/05 craig varney total crap doesn't even compare to the tv show 1 stars
11/17/04 Jews for Hitler Jesus wept.... 1 stars
10/20/04 C.J. Hey! How come I always have to defend this movie? 4 stars
9/18/04 CharWar Parts of it were fun - costumes interesting - hated the bears 4 stars
6/11/04 DJ ERIC 88 i actually enjoyed this movie and was suprised people hated it! 4 stars
6/11/04 John horrendous - totally inept and terrible casting except for Connery 1 stars
4/17/04 Pete Holy 1 stars
4/05/04 Mr X This movie thinks there is a Hollywood conspiracy to purposely dumb down America 1 stars
3/24/04 Whatevr Its a good thing they don't test this movie on animals 1 stars
2/26/04 DM What the fuck happened? 1 stars
8/17/03 Lord Chu It physically hurt me. I am legally within my rights to sue the filmmakers for assault. 1 stars
6/03/03 Charles Tatum Bad in so many ways 1 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Mind-bogglingly bad. Dull, boring, blank, incoherent. Blah. Ick. Duh. 1 stars
2/10/03 Ubu the Ripper After starring in this yawnfest Thurman and Feines should take a cut in pay. 1 stars
1/10/03 Paul Coleman Hideous, embarrassing GARBAGE. Catherine Zeta Jones would have made a better Mrs. Peel. 1 stars
12/28/02 Colin Selby what a hopeless mess 1 stars
12/09/02 gromm I couldn't watch more than 5 minutes of this movie. And the accents are fake. 1 stars
10/13/02 KMG it was difficult to understand what the fuck this movie was about 1 stars
9/04/02 Chancey Thunderpants Oh my... this was terrible. Disastrous attempt at filmmaking, acting, everything. 1 stars
6/17/02 Bart I sooo wanted this to work. Disappointing. 2 stars
6/02/02 Dark Barøn Yeah. 1 stars
3/01/02 Alan Smithee You know you're in trouble when Uma in a leather body suit can't make you watch a movie! 1 stars
8/12/01 Catherine I know movies can suck but... 1 stars
7/14/01 officer 412/l they spend months hyping this film trying to make us believe it was unmissable. was it fuck 1 stars
6/07/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I almost cried. Swear to God. 1 stars
5/29/01 Thrillhouse Don't waste your money on this movie. Oh, and the movie is laughably stupid. 1 stars
5/26/01 Connoisseur this was the worst movie i've ever seen dudes 1 stars
4/25/01 Spetters Connery, thurman and fiennes make bloody fools of themselves! FUCKING PAINFUL!!!!! 1 stars
4/15/01 Rampage Bums in teddy bear suits!? What the hell?! This movie is un-friggin'-believable! 1 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Uma is awful. Come back Diana!!! 1 stars
2/19/01 T. Sharif The Avengers will help you get your zzzzz....... 1 stars
2/05/01 Mister Char i hope uma thurman dies of a slow cancer. 1 stars
1/12/01 Avenger Girl What a miscarriage of justice to a great legendary TV show 2 stars
12/07/00 Cristopher Revilla Someone should grab that teddybear suit and shove it up the diretors ass, or Uma's!!! 1 stars
10/05/00 Ralph Fiennes Alright alright I'm sorry! I only did it to perve at Uma in leather 1 stars
9/11/00 Ground Zero There are movies that suck so bad, but this movie is one of 'em 1 stars
9/07/00 Stuntman stupid, sloppy and really, really pathetic acting 1 stars
7/28/00 Jinx Worst film I've seen in the last 10 years. Moronic. Unclever. Disjointed. BAD ACTING. 1 stars
7/22/00 Digitalus Swarms of bugs, teddy bears... oh God. Come up with cheap 1-liners and a really bad cast 1 stars
7/09/00 Andrew Freeman Uma is hot...but those Teddies pushed me over the edge (masturbating) 2 stars
6/26/00 Ulatekk Guys in Teddy Bear suits? What the fuck??? I walked out after 15 min. 1 stars
5/30/00 danilo there are movies that are so bad they're good. But this movie is so bad it's just bad 1 stars
4/26/00 Pansy Vile and stupid movie. God it sucked! 1 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers What? Where? When? Why? How? Some of the many questions you'll think during this film. 1 stars
3/07/00 Richard Wright A complete mess. One liners aren't funny,actors are poorly cast and film is boring to boot. 1 stars
3/01/00 Ionicera The only thing saving this movie from absolute zero it deserves is the Fiennes sauna scene. 2 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan Release the series on video now, and burn until the last copy of this horrid travesty. 1 stars
10/03/99 Joe Schmoe Like ChefMichelle said, pure crap 1 stars
9/19/99 Admiral Crunch rude/Charney, your comments confirm you're a dimwit, Uma and Feines needs to do some Pepsi 1 stars
5/09/99 Ah Dooey Can I give it 0 stars? F**king shit. 1 stars
4/15/99 Mr. Kramitall Umm, Lulu, your biological clock is showing. Oh, and the movie goddam sucks! 1 stars
4/01/99 The Incredible Sulk Righto with the review, Oz. Sexist, offensive, vile, stupid and pathetic. 0 stars. 1 stars
3/26/99 Technorama Was there a great movie? All I saw was a bunch of stupid "jokes" and FX. It just sucked. 1 stars
3/17/99 Madcap "How real do you feel Mrs. Peel?" "Why, rather plastic, thanks for asking" 2 stars
3/13/99 Viral Messiah Hollywood should be sued for this putrid piece of crap. 1 stars
3/12/99 Lulu I loved it. It was different from most. Dissapointing to the series however 5 stars
1/24/99 donkey_dew Not bad, not too bad at all. 4 stars
1/07/99 Jo Mama my girlfriend wanted to see this shit...we broke up shortly after 1 stars
12/10/98 Skip Danner One of the worst films of all time. My god; who was in charge here? 1 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink Worst movie of 1998, it was even worse than Batman & Robin 1 stars
10/28/98 Bad Kosh Thiis movie drove me nuts. I died laughing at that crock of crap. 1 stars
10/19/98 Dark Horizons I was incredibly disappointed by this movie. 2 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo God awful. Ralph Fiennes can't do camp. Nor can Uma. Or Sean. 1 stars
10/16/98 Finley Pure crap. 1 stars
10/07/98 Korny Island See "shitty" in the dictionary. Why go camp with the straightest actor ever? 1 stars
10/01/98 Specter Funny satire on the whole; Uma looks great in tight leather. 3 stars
9/28/98 Marty in St.Louis The villian wants to control the weather? Is this Connery or "the Brain"? 1 stars
9/22/98 CHRIS "Motherfukin" Paulychronopolus This movie couldnt blow me! 1 stars
9/20/98 AL I thought this movie was really good, and funny! 4 stars
9/20/98 Allen Galland Boring 2 stars
9/16/98 Joe Mama This movie was a piece of shit. 1 stars
9/14/98 Mark Nelson Fair 3 stars
9/13/98 Acappellanowords Godawful!! Gave me bad "Hudson Hawk" flashbacks! 1 stars
9/10/98 Mike It was funny as hell. Don't go with too high expectations. But, coulda been worse. 4 stars
9/05/98 Kid Pee-Pee It's official. I hate Uma and Ralph can't act. 1 stars
9/05/98 Mike Lancaster Sean Connery will be wearing a Barney suit next! Is $$ worth this kind of embarrassment? 1 stars
8/28/98 The 13 Inch Grey Penis. Seriously, if Sean Connery is still the sexiest man in the world after this, I'll convulse. 1 stars
8/22/98 Mister Whoopee Not even Uma in leather can make this shit float. 2 stars
8/16/98 Ryan_A One of the worst movies I've seen this year. 1 stars
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  14-Aug-1998 (PG)
  DVD: 03-Feb-2004


  05-Nov-1998 (PG)

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