The Avengers (1998) — No, not that one

“A man with an umbrella is a man praying for rain.”

Kyle’s rating: Sign #3 that the end times are upon us.

Kyle’s review: My friend Cece, who could be dead now but it doesn’t really matter, has/had a thing for Uma Thurman. And fencing. Weird, eh? Anyhoo, it was a cool and crisp Tuesday morning a few years back and I had just gotten out of Cultural Anthropology at my old college in Colorado. Cece was working at the information desk in the student center and, after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him “How’s Trix?” Meaning the tasty cereal. He misunderstood, because he simply stated “This Friday is Movie Night!” I became visibly excited, flapping and waving my arms, because Movie Night was when a bunch of us college boys and girls got together, went out to dinner, saw a new movie, then went to Starbucks to dissect the movie, the previews, the soundtrack, and the latest college fashions. Very bohemian. Having that to look forward to was enough to get my arms flapping and waving (did I already mention that?). Then I asked the most important question of all. “Where are we going to eat?” “Red Robin.” Hamburgers!?! Yes! Nothing’s gonna stop us now! “Yeah,” Cece explained, “I figured we’d all go see The Avengers.”

Suddenly local time flow went from “big wheel keep on turning” to “super-duper angry slow-mo.” My arms fell limp at their sides and I gave Cece a look of pure hatred that paralleled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s glare at Bill Paxton in the middle of True Lies. My anguished cry of “No!” echoed through the main hallway and could be heard as far away as the chemistry labs. My hands, twisted by malevolence into claws and fueled by my hate, whipped out to tear through Cece’s Gap shirt and rip his chest into bacon-looking strips of skin. Needless to say, I was not pleased at his choice of films.

Why was I so angry? Why did Cece like fencing? Why am I super-exaggerating everything for literary value? All valid questions. I can only answer one: I had heard many many bad things about The Avengers. I had seen a few amusing past episodes, and I knew the “real” Avengers (Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) from their appearances in the James Bond films On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and A View to a Kill, respectively. In fact, Rigg’s role in the underrated OHMSS was so great and touching that I cry every time I watch it! Just wanted to let you know!

Anyway, I would not pay ticket prices, even at a student discount, to see The Avengers if it was crap that disrespected the fine show it was based on! Even Cece’s suggestion that I use Bondian methods to sneak into the showing was rebuffed, because I don’t sneak into bad movies! Only porn! Since a bunch of us felt the same way we all went to Red Robin for tasty hamburgers and then after dinner we split up into Cece’s group of “let’s go see The Avengers!” guys and my group of “let’s go to my house and play erotic hide and seek!” girls. So it would be a few years till I finally decided to give a cable viewing of The Avengers a chance, in memory of my friend Cece who did like fencing and other fruity things but was still a good friend.

Sadly, The Avengers movie is just as bad on the small screen as Cece admitted it was on the big screen. Ralph Fiennes and Uma do manage to be as charming as British people can ever hope to be, but any hope of living up to the high standard of Bond is dashed soundly rather quickly. Sean Connery (Bond!) overacts disturbing and gets to be crazy and evil, which he probably all learned from Donald Pleasence’s portrayal of Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. If you enjoy off-the-wall goofy weirdness you might get a kick out of this, but I can’t really recommend it to anyone except people who have viewed every single other video at their local video store and must see another movie in the next week or they will explode. If that doesn’t cover you, just rent a Bond flick instead! Bond forever!

PoolMan’s rating: A first step to understanding Hudson Hawk.

PoolMan’s review: The first Mutant Summit was memorable for a lot of reasons. Endless trips to Denny’s. Driving around one night for a solid TWO HOURS without being able to find any bar other than the one we had breakfast in that morning. Justin’s mannequin surprising the bejeezus out of me. More Final Fantasy than I’d been prepared to expect. But the highlight, just as it should have been, was the movies. And as far as J was concerned, it was Hudson Hawk or go home. So I watched it.

The similarities between Hawk and The Avengers are amazing, and I’d almost be willing to believe that one was the sequel to the other. You’ve got conspiracies that run in countless odd directions, freakish badguys, and more liquid wierdness than you can shake a stick at. But where Hudson Hawk was high octane, The Avengers is just regular unleaded, which might be easier to handle for those less culty of mind.

It’s not a great flick… the first thought that rolled out of my head when it was all done was “Well, that made absolutely no sense at all.” The second thought, however, was “…but it was damn funny.” Honestly, I laughed my cute little heiney off. Right from the opening scene, with the killer milkman, to the conference table of conspiring Care Bears, to the inexplicably costumed Uma Thurman, I was laughing the whole time (and on only one beer! Imagine!).

Now all this said, I’m not at all familiar with the TV original, and I’ve been told that that’s likely the source of most of the outrage surrounding the movie. The characters wouldn’t have done this, he wouldn’t have said that… maybe it’s all for the best, but in this case, ignorance is certainly bliss. I wonder what kind of reception The Avengers‘ script would have received if it were written with a different name and characters? And if that weren’t enough, a full HOUR was cut from the running length, which probably would have explained an awful lot of the seemingly random plot turns. Me, I just went limp and enjoyed the ride.

It’s light, it’s definitely brainless, and it’s got a sense of humour that will probably offend Britons while flying right over the collective head of North America. But I’ve never before seen a movie with more sexual innuendo, more umbrella tricks than Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito combined, more (awesome) machine-gun armed robot bees, more mascara-wearing chubby thugs, and more inexplicable plot twists than this one (okay, maybe Hawk), and surely there’s some recognition deserved for that.

Justin’s rating: But can you control bad movies?

Justin’s review: Well, seeing as how the entire Mutant Reviewers team disagrees (and violently) about this movie, I decided to leap in and make my say. True, it would be more interesting to have them battle it out, American Gladiators-style, but instead I rented this movie last night and watched it.

The Avengers is full camp, from beginning to end. Starring everyone’s favorite Nazi (Ralph Finnes) and heroin addict (Uma Thurman), this movie pits these two against the evil forces of Sean Connery and his roguish accent. And some scheme involving weather control (you may laugh, but you have obviously not lived in my college town, where we might experience a tornado, flood, and 85 degrees of sun all in the same day).

Plot is quite irrelevant, so fortunately there’s a lot of eye candy to chew on and develop optical cavities. High tech gadgets, killer robotic bees, and the attack of giant teddy bears all abound to delight those of us who have just graduated the School of Unreality.

Shrug. It was amusing, not horrible, not spectacular.

Didja notice?

  • Care Bears: the ominous threat!
  • On two separate occasions, closeups of the robo-bees hitting the trees show very clearly that they’re on wires.
  • A getaway AIR BALLOON?!?
  • What is it with British spies (in this case, Mother near the end) having the smallest handguns possible?

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