Production Showcase: Special Effects of The Avengers
Appendix C to the "Avengers" movie review
Scene: Flight Of The Metal Bumble Bees
Emma Peel drives John Steed out to the manor of Sir August de Wynter in her car. They are suddenly attacked by a swarm of giant, flying, metallic bees. The bees are remote controlled by Bailey (Eddie Izzard), a henchman of the Baron de Wynter. During the car chase, the melody Flight Of The Bumble Bees briefly appears intervoven into the score.
An improbable, if entertaining, chase ensues. At its end, the bees are vanquished, Sir August's henchmen crash their Mini Cooper, one of them dies. Mrs. Peel's car blows up and they are picked by Alice, a nice little old lady who reveals herself to be an Agent of the Ministry (click here to see Alice drunk; or click here to see Alice in action).
The images below show some of the more amazing shots in this sequence, indoubtedly the finest effects scene (and the most gripping moment, even though it ends very predictably) of the entire movie.
Correction: These effects were not, as previously stated on this page, miniatures handled by the Magic Camera Company. As a matter of fact, the metal bumble bees was entirely realized in computer graphics (CGI) by Cinesite Visual Effects in London. The 3d bee models were animated in Alias Power Animator 7 by Chas Cash and David Child. Chas also modelled and textured the mechanical beasties. The sequence took seven months to complete. Congratulations for a great job on a lousy movie.
It appears that the bees were originally intended to be miniatures, but when this didn't work, the production moved to an all-CGI version. The only "real" bee is the burning one seen in the last shot. (This also explains the slight discrepancies in appearance of the flying vs. the crashed bee.)
(Thanks to Matt Johnson at Cinesite UK for clearing this up.)
(Images taken from the DVD of "The Avengers ", © 1998 by Warner Brothers)
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