August 31, 1998 12:00 PM

Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery

When a bottle of champagne is uncorked late in The Avengers, it is the only moment of effervescence in an otherwise disastrously flat, would-be blockbuster. Allegedly based on the witty, ultra-cool British TV series that aired here from 1966 to ’69, the only thing this Avengers shares with its swinging, earlier incarnation is a London setting. The plot, about a power-crazed maniac (Connery, wearing a truly moldy rug) out to control the world’s weather, is incomprehensible blather, and neither Fiennes nor Thurman, playing British secret agent John Steed and his helper Mrs. Emma Peel, can hold a teacup to the incomparable originals (Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg). (PG)

Bottom Line: How do you say “stinks” with an English accent?

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