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The Avengers Movie (Saving The World In Style?):

Regarding the Avengers movie. I will discuss it very briefly here, because I don't 'want' to rant. Warner Brothers gave it a valiant effort and I will give them vast credit for that.


On the positive side:

The special effects were wonderful! The Escher design of the deWynter manor. The hornet robots. The weather globes. The bubble to walk on water. The weather shield. The twin tornadoes in London. The blizzard in London. The powered balloon. The escape bubble. The concept of "Avengerland"! The list goes on, all of it was delightful. The special effects and set designers should be extremely proud of their part in the movie. Thank you all!


For an excellent site with lots of interesting information on the Avengers Movie, visit The Prospero Files - Saving the Movie With Style.



Leave Sean Connery in (I loved him in the movie), but lose the teddy bear suits!


Who would have been the best replacement for Steed? Years ago, Mel Gibson was the favored of many. Recently, Piers Brosnan was the best choice by far, and that was known since "Remington Steele". He would have been the 'best' candidate for the movie, if he didn't get the part of Bond. Imagine Brosnan facing Connery in the final battle scene! It gives one chills! Bond was the best career move for Brosnan, but a massive disappointment for Steed fans.


Ralph Fiennes may be a superb actor in his many roles, but he was a depressing Steed. Too stiff and reserved and he didn't play the role like he 'enjoyed' it. A second choice? Pick some little known starving British actor and give it a shot. There just weren't any actors left that stood out as perfect for the role - sorry. Patrick's own son would have been better than Fiennes, and at least better qualified. Maybe my expectations were TOO high. Sorry Ralph, you were just OK.


Uma Thurman? I still hadn't gotten her appearance in Batman, as Poison Ivy, out of my mind. She was alright, but that wasn't the problem either. Jim Broadbent as Mother was acceptable, but the nicotine stained fingers was too much. Eddie Izzard was OK as Bailey, the supporting villain. His only line in the movie was the word that he is famous for over-using; and the only profanity in the movie. Put in, I'm sure, to get it above a 'G' rating only. Fiona Shaw as Father was OK. Everyone was just... OK.


The CD soundtrack of the movie was deplorable and worthless, nothing at all to do with the movie - except the main theme. Clue, fill the CD with 'soundtrack' music - hence the name Soundtrack!


I could fill a novel with reasons why the movie itself bombed. The biggest reason why it bombed, could be summed up with the following: You would think that no one in the movie ever 'watched' the original program to follow the formula for its success. AND Patrick Macnee wasn't made the main consultant for the movie. Talk about an incredible lack of common sense! My God! He invented the role and carried the program from Day One! He IS The Avengers! What was Warner Brothers thinking? Sheesh! OK, I said I wasn't going to rant.


Alright, I AM ranting! I can hear it now... "Tell me Cal, what do you REALLY think."


OK, all of that wasn't 'entirely' fair. Before I backpedal a bit, please follow with me some excerpts from the 'organisation' section of the Avengers movie web site from Warner Brothers. And be patient.


Producer Jerry Weintraub states, "When Warner Bros. and I went into business together, I knew I wanted to make 'The Avengers.' But I wanted to do it right, and it took a long time for me to find the right script and the right cast. When you're making a big action - adventure movie, your natural tendency is to Americanize it -- I didn't want to. I knew John Steed and Emma Peel had a worldwide audience and I didn't want to bastardize these characters."


From the Avengers Movie site: Weintraub's infatuation with the show (and Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel) never faded. He eventually purchased the Thorn - EMI library (which included the rights to the series) in 1985 and made a commitment to bring Steed and Peel to the motion picture screen.


Further: When Weintraub proposed that Macpherson produce the script for the Avengers film, the writer knew it would have to reinvent the crime fighting pair for the new generations of the uninitiated. Macpherson elaborates, "There will be two audiences for this film: one, the people like myself who grew up with 'The Avengers' and, for whom, it's a cult standard and a real touchstone; and two, the much bigger audience of moviegoers who don't know John Steed and Emma Peel -- they are the ones with whom we need to share the fun secret of the new Avengers."


Finally: Acknowledging the crisp style that so identified the original, the producer and writer hit upon a solution to bringing the movie into more modern times without destroying one of the key elements of the show's success. Macpherson notes, "We decided to set the film in a time we'll call 1999, but it's really a Britain where the '60s were never superseded by the ensuing decades. The '80s and Margaret Thatcher have never existed. Cellular phones don't exist, yuppies haven't happened. The '60s have simply continued to go on for 30 years. Right now, the worlds of style and fashion have embarked on a post-modern spree, recycling and reclaiming the retro looks of the past, the '60s in particular; we've taken that decade as a starting point and made it our own. It's called 'Avengerland.'"


From the horse's (sorry, Steed's) mouth:

I just found a clipping about Macnee's opinion of the movie. I can't vouch for the accuracy, but I agree with the sentiment anyway. [Television's original John Steed, Patrick Macnee, is not impressed by Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of his character in the new film version of the cult series The Avengers. Fiennes, he tells the Los Angeles Times: "resembles a humble bank clerk and plays the part in a muted whisper." Macnee, who has a tiny voice-over role in the film, asks: "Where is the charm, the lightness, the wit and the genuine humour?" He also faults the production for having "no big comic villain" and "no genuine sexual perversity."] Where indeed?


In summary:

So, in fairness, Weintraub and Macpherson 'were' committed to keeping it close to the original program and I 'knew' this long before my little rant. When word of the movie came out, the announcement of the production staff gave me hope for a fantastic movie to look forward to! The purist in me 'hoped' for a return to the show - not a remake. So, the team of Weintraub and Macpherson sounded wonderful! I read the screenplay in the paperback book and loved it! I had every hope of a fabulous movie.


But something happened to the movie along the way. The Director's Cut was the harshest and unkindest cut of all. Video hack and slash! They cut so much, they left out 'anything' that would explain what the heck was going on in the movie.


Let's not 'bother' to explain why Sir August deWynter is the immediate suspect. Or why there was an Emma Peel clone. Why Father was in cahoots with deWynter. What was up with Mother's assistant and Steed? Why the elderly lady with the machine gun knew more about what was going on than anyone else? Many 'whys?' to explain. The movie would have been saved (and I hear this time and time again from other purist fans who critiqued the movie) if they expanded the movie for a mere fifteen minutes and used it to 'explain' things.


Perhaps the director was coerced by the head office to keep the film at the final released length. If so, the Warner Brothers executive responsible for 'that' decision should be publicly flogged and a formal apology should be made to the director! Instead, the director himself was repeatedly executed anyplace that discussed the movie and I won't mention his name here.


Fifteen minutes would have been more than enough time to turn it from a fair movie into an excellent one.


As an aside, at least it wasn't as bad as The Wild Wild West movie. Were they passing out Ecstasy and Crack when they brainstormed that movie? Will Smith is a phenomenal actor who I 'truly' enjoy watching in a lot of shows. But as a Secret service agent during the post Civil War era? Shudder! Robert Conrad had every right to complain about the movie! He would have been perfectly justified to ride into the production set in his James West suit and fire away with both 45's! Now I am going off on another tangent. Boy, do 'I' have unresolved issues...



In the vernacular of the genre: It wasn't the 'butler' that did it, it was the director and his teddy bear suits. Case closed, sweetheart.


End of rant! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


Avengers Movie Links:

The best article I've read, discussing the shortcomings of the movie, can be found in the Secret Intelligence Archives - called "Avenging The Avengers", by Nicholas Sheffo.


For an excellent site with lots of interesting information on the Avengers Movie, visit www.TheAvengers98.com - 'Where Action and Fashion Remain the Passion' by Ian Beasley.


Now, let's forget the movie:

My site isn't about the movie, only the Television series. So, let's please return to it. Thank you.


Yahoo! Groups: The Prospero Files Owner and moderator: Ian (rt4700).


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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Revised: January 29, 2009.

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