Reviewed by David Conner
Rating: 9 Beans
espite all the wretched advance publicity, I really wanted to like this movie. I enjoyed the original TV show, and the trailer made it look like it might be a worthy successor.
Unfortunately, itís almost as bad as the advance buzz suggested. The total incomprehensibility of the plot, the ubiquitous one-liners and forced "witty" dialogue that isnít, and the sheer tedium of the movie brought back painful memories of last yearís "Batman and Robin," an even worse movie. Indeed, the villainís plot is nearly identical, but at least Mr. Freeze had a vaguely comprehensible motive!
The movie isnít a complete and total failure; it *looks* very nice. The set design and costuming are generally top-notch. In addition, Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman *look* great as Steed and Peel. This all makes for a dandy trailer (and the subtraction of one Bean), but unfortunately little else.
Just about everything else in the movie fails miserably. On the acting front, Fiennes and Thurman turn out to be badly miscast, and have a catastrophic lack of chemistry. This makes the would-be witty banter between the two simply tedious. The idea of casting Sean Connery as a Bond-type villain sounds great on paper, but far too little is done with this concept. Connery is surprisingly underused, and his character is saddled with terrible dialogue (again resembling Mr. Freezeís painfully bad dialogue in "Batman and Robin"). Moreover, the character makes absolutely no sense in terms of motivation or background, so Connery has almost nothing to work with. Heís also given what has to be the most embarrassing moment of a distinguished career, delivering the standard Bond villainís "purge the unreliables from the evil organization" speech while all participants are dressed in bear suits. One can only imagine what was going through Conneryís mind while filming this scene. I know the scene was supposed to be funny, but itís just painfully silly. All I could think of was, "I really hope Sean got a huge paycheck for this, and that he opted for lots of cash up front instead of a percentage."
The script is wretched, with no narrative continuity whatsoever. Or if there ever was any, it has been edited into total incoherence. I never really understood who was doing what to whom, where they were doing it, or why. The script also makes some unfortunate choices about the characters. The Steed/Peel relationship is too overtly romantic, and Mrs. Peelís character is too overtly defined. One of the things that was so charming about her character on TV was her aura of mystery. As I recall, the viewers were never told much of anything about her background, save that she was "a talented amateur." And how! She was beautiful, charming, artistic, a genius, and could really kick ass. Defining her background hurts her character here.
The whole movie has a sort of dreary, somber tone (unintentional, I think) that works completely against the source material. One telling symptom of this is that we never hear the wonderfully jaunty "Avengers Theme" until the very end of the movie. If only weíd heard it earlier, in a movie that fit its tone. Instead, "The Avengers" is just a Bad Movie of the worst sort -- tedious and painful to watch, with little entertainment value of any sort.
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