Having finally been forced to watch Jeremiah Chechik’s much detested big screen version of the classic ’60s British TV series, I have to confess that I thought it was a lot of well-intended fun. That sentence will get me branded a traitor by Avengers fans — and, yes, I’m a major fan of the show. You simply do not go through puberty watching Diana Rigg in Carnaby Street cat suits and leather and escape without a lasting impression. And, yes, I have all the episodes.
But really, what is all the fuss about? That Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman aren’t Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg? Of course, they aren’t, but then they don’t really try to be — presumably they knew that was a hopeless task. I’ve read a lot of blather about how “silly” the plot is. Excuse me? We are talking about a film based on the TV series that boasted gadgets that could shrink things to tiny toys, and inventions like “broadcast power” and robotic creatures called “cybernauts” (they were so well liked, they made three appearances), aren’t we? In fact, there’s a tenuous connection between the plot of the movie — involving controlling the weather — and one of the sainted Rigg episodes, A Surfeit of H2O.
There are, I fear, some fans out there in serious need of lightening up and getting some perspective. The show was never meant to be deep or complex or meaningful (we had The Prisoner for that). It was in the style of its time — the British Invasion style. It was cheeky, stylish fun with neat Brit cars, witty repartee, bad jokes, quirky characters and outrageous villains. And the movie? Well, Mrs. Peel may have lost her Lotus Elan, but she does have an E type Jag, and Steed has his Bentley. And the rest of it at least duplicates the surface. If anything, the movie’s a bit too slick — too elaborate for a show that thrived on making-do. But I don’t doubt that the show would have welcomed this budget! Give the movie a chance. It’s stylish and enjoyable — and it does give Patrick Macnee a nice cameo “appearance.” Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke
[The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Avengers on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m., in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to Lake Point Landing entrance and park in lot at left.)]