Cinema: Steed on A Banana Peel

The studio refused to show The Avengers to critics, but audiences have no such protection

Critics long ago stopped even pretending they had any effect on the moviegoing habits of the mass audience. So to be forbidden an early peek at a film, as we were last week with The Avengers, is to be momentarily flattered that we matter. Hiding a film--especially a big-budget action-adventure with a certain pedigree--is a studio's open signal that the picture smells. It is a mystery how moguls think they can tell an epochally awful movie from a routinely bad one; last year, for example, there were plenty of press previews for The Saint, to name just one other dyspeptic update...

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