Making the Grades
Considering the many television shows that have recently been turned into movies, you'd think someone in Hollywood would begin to recognize that these programs were never intended to be put into 70 million dollar productions and stretched to feature movie lengths.
The Avengers doesn't break this routine. Ralph Fiennes is cast to replace Patrick Macnee, the actor who played undercover agent John Steed in the television series over many seasons. Along with his sidekick Emma Peel (Uma Thurman), his mission for this film is to defeat Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery), a madman who is able to control the weather and intends on making nations freeze unless they pay the heating bills that de Wynter is demanding.
Potentially this premise with these actors could provide audiences with a blizzard of action, but instead we are snowed under with Fiennes and Thurman's infatuation with their own typecast spy-style characters. These two are so busy being suave and sophisticated that we never get a chance to look at the rest of the film except in brief confusing glimpses.
Meanwhile, Connery's weather-wizard is overcast in more ways than just the skies above. His part never gives him an opportunity to be a real bad guy, and with the exception of a couple of brief sequences where London's landmarks are being blown over, we aren't the least bit frightened by his menacing plans.
As for your children, the producers of this film made an interesting decision to include one major sexual expletive, forcing it to aquire a PG-13 rating. Otherwise it only contains one term of deity and a mild profanity. Along with the language, there is partial male nudity and heavy violence -- nothing gory, but like most spy flics, life is regarded as a disposable commodity.
But don't worry that The Avengers doesn't quite make the mark for family viewing. You'll be better entertained by finding the reruns on television, and hopefully this season of recycled television programs will either soon end, or at least move from a dull Wynter and into a creative spring.