Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Avengers, The Movie

"The Avengers" movie came out in 1998, so it's a little late to say anything about it now. At the time, it looked like a simple attempt to profit off the original TV show, so I avoided going to watch it at the theaters. But, I received a copy of the DVD as a birthday present at the same time as I got the A&E box set. I figured that I might as well check it out and then comment on it here.

First, is the movie as good as the TV series? I don't think so. Would I have liked it if I'd never seen the original show? Probably moderately, if I saw it on TV for free. I wouldn't want to pay to see it on the big screen.

The Avengers movie is to the TV series what the Tom Cruise movie was to the Peter Graves Mission: Impossible show - the only commonality is the character names, and Steed's bowler hat. Where Patrick Macnee was a suave, sophisticated, womanizing loose-cannon investigative agent, Ralph Fiennes played John Steed as a woman-phobic, by-the-book spy who supposedly still lives with his mother. Dianna Rigg played Emma Peel as a widow still loyal to her husband's memory, a brilliant scientist with an industrial background, a skilled cat burglar and a martial artists expert. Uma Thurman turned the character into a sword-fighting research project director unable to deal with a thug with a knife. Uma spends the entire film fending off people that just want to make sexual innuendo at her.

Ralph and Uma completely lack chemistry, standing stiffly next to each other, clumsily trying to imitate the banter that made the Steed-Peel pair so appealing in the original show. When they finally do kiss at the end, it's as if they're trying to make the audience forget that Uma's husband is still living in England. Instead of being a widow, Emma is apparently separated from her spouse, at best. There doesn't seem to have been a reason for having her be married in the movie, other than to keep the name "Mrs." Peel.

Then there's the entire concept of Emma's clone being evil. Given the nature of the "Avengers" universe, where the unexpected is routine and spies are everywhere, the idea that someone could be masquerading as Emma never crosses anyone's mind. Without even looking into her background, she's assumed to be guilty of espionage. And stupid espionage at that - going into a secured facility known to have security cameras without covering her face up. Steed makes a big deal of giving her a new pair of boots, suspecting her to be a bad guy, claiming that they'll be really useful, and the only mod on them is a tracking bug to verify that she's evil? Please.

One thing that did surprise me was that Patrick Macnee made a cameo in the movie. He's the invisible records keeper that had been a camouflage expert whose tricks end up becoming permanent on him. I was wondering why he made a point of standing in front of the projector at the end of the scene, but he is kind of recognizable then. His voice is completely different in the scene, which may be a mark of his having done voice over work. I didn't make the connection until I saw his name in the closing credits.

The backgrounds are gorgeous, and they made me want to visit England again some time. And there was one redeeming feature in the movie - Alice, the machinegun toting granny who shows up in the middle is pure original Avengers. Her I liked. "Would you please be so kind as to hit the ground, if it's not too much trouble? [Fires submachine gun, kills bad guy] I hope he was a baddie." So, I didn't mind watching the movie. I just don't consider it to be part of "The Avengers" universe.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


mmDerdekea said...


Just a couple of comments regarding your descriptions of the TV show characters of Steed and Mrs. Peel. Steed was a little bit of a "loose cannon", perhaps during the Keel/Mrs. Gale series, but certainly by the time he was with Mrs. Peel, and with Tara, and in The New Avengers, you could not use that adjective to accurately describe him anymore. As for Emma Peel, she was by no means "loyal to her husband's memory", unless by that you mean being loyal she hung out with Steed all hours of the day and night, traveled with him to France, and had a nice sex life with him. Sure, when her husband came back in "Forget Me Knot", she returned to him, but trust me, she hadn't thought about him one second during her time with Steed! Also, she was not a cat burglar, either, so not sure where you came up with that descriptive. Otherwise, I think your analysis of the movie was very good, except you forgot to say it was AWFUL. Fiennes' interpretation of Steed was pathetic, the story was terrible and the editing was pitifully bad.


TSOTE said...

The cat burglar comment comes from her ability to break into any office or house, often on the second floor, and rifle the papers for clues. Same thing as what Steed and Cathy Gale would do. (Naturally, I'm not using "cat burglar" to imply that she was a thief.)

I think she hid behind the "Mrs." title. It was part of her identity and a way to distance herself from any of the men she met. Whenever she introduced herself, it was as "Mrs." Peel. As for having sex with Steed, that's open for interpretation. It certainly looked that way, but the only time the two openly showed affection for each other was when there was that brain swap, and then it was someone else using their bodies.

Ok, I'll make up the deficient and use "awful" here. Awful, awful, awful.

Thanks for the comments on the series and movie. So, what brings you to this blog entry?