It was a terrible flop, thank God.

—Patrick Macnee
TV Guide, 17 July 1999

[It] may rank as the worst-ever movie remake of a TV original.

—Matt Roush
TV Guide, 24 July 1999

Here is a movie in which, grandly and triumphantly, nothing works... It disgraced everybody affiliated with it.

—Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
3 February 2000

It is an inert gas.

—Richard Corliss
Time
24 August 1998

August 1998 (No bowlers)

Superspy John Steed and brilliant physicist Dr. Emma Peel meet for the first time when a certain August de Wynter, formerly of The Ministry, threatens the economy of the country with a powerful weather machine!

 IMHO

Few films are as polarizing as "Weintraub's folly." It has its fans—a handful, anyway—but the vast majority of people regard it as a monumental disappointment. Some claim that it fares better on the small screen—perhaps because its colossal flaws are at least reduced in physical size, if not in quantity.

What went wrong? Supposedly the producer and franchise owner, Jerry Weintraub, struggled for a decade to get his homage to the series onto the silver screen. (Perhaps this was a message from the gods...?) While he may have had good intentions, it seems failure awaited him at every turn, from the very outset right up to and including the release of the final product.

The root of the problem, I believe, lay in the root of the project: the intent to create a "summer blockbuster." A blockbuster Avengers movie is something of an oxy-moron. The Avengers is not about lavish sets, heart-pounding action and mind-boggling special effects—these are best reserved for that other British agent. What's needed most is much more subtle: style. Not something for which Hollywood is known, to be sure.

The choice of script didn't help, either. That it was seriously mutilated by the time it reached production only made a bad situation worse, since the original story simply wasn't all that original. A diabolical mastermind with a weather machine... did we forget "A Surfeit of H2O"?

Things continued to go awry when it came time to produce it. Despite claiming to be a "fan," the director appears to have never seen an Avengers episode, the casting was wrong-headed and embarrassing at best, and tens of millions were wasted on sets and visuals when a small fraction could have fetched a better script, cast and crew.

To add insult to injury, following a disastrous test screening, Warner Brothers gave Weintraub's brainchild a lobotomy and released it simultaneously in the US and UK during one of the worst times of the year, with no advance screenings for the press—a clear admission they knew they had a loser on their hands. Sadly, it didn't just quietly flop—it loudly imploded.

Defenders of the film decry the nearly unanimous verdict of the critics, claiming they are unfit to judge a cult favorite. But just sample a few of the online reviews (here's a bunch). Of the reviews listed, maybe five or six are favorable toward the film, and even then only mildly. The balance range from waffling indifference to outright loathing.

While I try my very best to publicly remain supportive of all flavors of the TV series, even the oft-maligned New Avengers, I stand by my conviction that this is an utter waste of perfectly good film stock. As for those who liked it, well, there's no accounting for taste.

Visitor views: Some like it. Some don't.

Pardon my hubris: here's MY cinematic homage to the series.

THE AVENGERS

Written by
Music by
Edited by
Cinematography
Produced by
Directed by

Don Macpherson
Joel McNeely
Mick Audsley
Roger Pratt, B.S.C
Jerry Weintraub
Jeremiah Chechik

CAST

John Steed
Emma Peel
Sir August de Winter
Mother
Father
Bailey
Alice
Trubshaw
Invisible Jones

Ralph Fiennes
Uma Thurman
Sean Connery 007
Jim Broadbent
Fiona Shaw
Eddie Izzard
Eileen Atkins
John Wood
Patrick Macnee 007

 

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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