Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery comes to Blu-ray exclusively in the Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition, with Extra Mojo 3 disc box set. Packaged in a slimline case, similar to the packaging of the Matrix Ultimate Collection, the set is packaged in a holographic box.
Austin Powers first stormed theaters 11 years ago, and has been a part of the cultural lexicon ever since, spawning two varying in quality sequels in that time. The original film, International Man of Mystery, almost rivaled the original Casino Royale (The farce with Peter Sellers and Woody Allen, not the Daniel Craig adrenaline fest) in the sheer amount of focus that is put on spoofing the Bond name, particularly in this instance, the Connery era.
Austin Powers (Mike Myers) is a swinging, freeloving secret agent in the ’60’s who is a national celebrity (which kind of blows that whole SECRET agent thing, but try to ignore that) and sex symbol, who is frozen, to return when his country needs him again. After his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil (Myers in a dual role) returns from his cryogenically frozen orbit around the Earth in a Bob’s Big Boy in the 90’s, Powers is awoken from his icy slumber, and is introduced to his partner, Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), the daughter of an agent Powers lusted after in the 60’s. A great fish-out-of-water comedy, Powers must adapt to changed times, and changed allies, as he attempts to prevent Dr. Evil from unleashing a stolen nuclear weapon.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was to be made, or broken, by the dual role performance of Myers. His job of performing two polar opposite characters, in language, body language, appearance, and intent was spot on, and despite the intentional cheesiness of it, it never was too hammy or annoying. Hurley’s performance as Kensington gave the film a great level of authenticity as well, as her performance opposite Myers was the best in the series, and she blew away the other leading ladies in terms of comedic timing.
One of the greatest parts of this film is that the gags always come back, but in a different incarnation. The original shoe gag is a direct take off from Goldfinger, but the second time around, it’s a gag on effeminate scuffling. The obscured nudity gag first takes on male nudity, and the many euphemisms and terms for the parts being used as the hiding element; the same take is done, sexes reversed, upping the ante and comedy. The fact that most of the jokes that recur are the best ones is a testament to how great the writing and direction sense for the film, as the jokes that fizzle only fizzle once.
The Bond jokes come fast and furious in this film, with the greatest series of jokes being the early portrayal of Dr. Evil in a Ernst Stavro Blofeld impersonation, not showing his face, constantly stroking his cat. Fellow Bond villains Rosa Klebb and Oddjob are also lampooned with Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) and Random Task (Joe Son). The parade of Bond girl name takeoffs began in this film as well, with Alotta Fagina.
There are few misses in this film, despite it being 11 years old already. The jokes age pretty well, with only a few being overly pop culture referential (especially compared to the two sequels). The story is full of visual gags, including what I believe to be one of the funniest ideas in some time, the cart stuck in the hallway sideways that cannot be moved. This film is just the result of being the right movie for the right time, being years before the Scary Movie series began the non stop barrage of lampoon films, so it doesn’t get associated with the others in the spoof genre, save for the classic Casino Royale.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Movie Rating: 8/10
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:
When a comedy (or horror film, for that matter) is a smashing success, sequels are the standard fare, up until the point when the public no longer cares. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery set up a sequel perfectly with its ending, so when The Spy Who Shagged Me (a take off of The Spy Who Loved Me) hit theaters slightly over 2 years after the first, the only question was if it would measure up to the original, or just be an unoriginal rehash.
Austin Powers (Mike Myers), single again after Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) was pretty lamely written out of the film (Fembot? come on), is enjoying his single, swinging ways again, while Dr. Evil (Myers again) has returned from space, and gone back to 1969 in a “time machine” to steal Powers’ mojo, with the assistance of double agent Fat Bastard (Myers, yet again). This time around, Austin is accompanied by CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), who not so secretly lusts over him, as he attempts to foil yet another of Dr. Evil’s diabolical plan to blackmail and/or destroy the world with a laster mounted on the moon, a “death star,” along with his 1/8th scale clone, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer).
The Spy Who Shagged Me is much more ambitious in scope than International Man of Mystery, but it doesn’t provide anything original enough to surpass the original. The new characters all feel a bit out of place. Fat Bastard, the now iconic disgusting obese asshole, may be a shining star for a while, but the fat/shit jokes wear thin over time. Mini-Me is funny on the first viewing, but after repeat viewings (and I have seen this film many times), his part loses it’s luster. Shagwell is, hands down, the worst part of this film. The “sexy” comments that are being CONSTANTLY thrown at Powers get old a bit fast. The appeal of the first film was helped by Vanessa Kensington’s reluctance to Powers’ charm, but having the new love interest thrust and offer her “love” non-stop was annoying.
The greatest part of the original is back in the sequel: the repetition of a joke, with a new twist on it. The continuing interrupted sentence joke (which was later utilized brilliantly in Shaun of the Dead) is golden. There was also the return of jokes from the original, most noticeably the SHHHH gag (now utilizing variations of zip it), and the visual implied gag of defecating a person, to varying success. The covered nudity gag is back in the opening credits as well, and a new gag, the perverse shadow gag, takes over for the overtly sexual visual gag.
Bond films are again lampooned, in more than just the title. Powers and Ivana Humpalot (who in name is a take-off of Bond girls, just as is Shagwell) play chess, homaging Bond’s intro in From Russia With Love. The swimsuit shots on the beach are a clear rip on Dr. No, and the entire moon sequence is an allegory to Moonraker. Originality took a dive, though, with Basil and Powers acknowledging the audience hamhandedly. But not all is stale with this sequel (the same cannot be said about the finale to the series, Goldmember). Will Ferrell’s return as Mustafa is sheer genius, and completely stole the show, and the dual Powers, with only one with a gun (the other just pretend shooting) was great as well.
The film may be flawed, but it’s not easy to write it off. Fans of comedy films (the natural audience for this one) will have much to enjoy, but those who did not enjoy the original will not find anything endearing here. For those who have been cave-dwelling and didn’t catch this title until now, approach with caution.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Movie Rating: 5/10
Austin Powers in Goldmember:
Ahh..Goldmember. The Austin Powers equivalent of Moonraker. The series finale equivalent of Batman & Robin. The end of a series that started strong, and started sputtering at it’s midpoint, ends like the thud of a corpse hitting the ground, but blame cannot be pointed in any singular direction. No, there are far too many things to point at for being obtuse in this one.
Austin catches Dr. Evil in the first act! During his Knighthood ceremony, Powers’ invite to his father Nigel (Michael Caine) is not fulfilled, setting in play the serious daddy issues our hero struggles to comprehend and overcome. It doesn’t help that his father has been kidnapped, sent back in time, and is being held by Dutch nutcase Goldmember (Myers in his FOURTH role in the series). Powers must hook back up with the disco dancing Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce), and use the help of a defecting Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) to rescue his father, foil Dr. Evil and Goldmember’s nefarious plan, and uncover a long lost secret (le gasp!)
Does that sound a bit convoluted? That’s because it is. Goldmember is very high aspirations, but a combination of detracting forces make it a mess, first and foremost: the rancid performance by Beyonce in her first feature film role. She has no comedic timing, whatsoever, and the writing for her part is so awful, she had no chance even if she had the chops. â¨Goldmember ultimately fails due to something other than Beyonce, though, in that it is so overly aware of itself that it may as well have a blog. The film is incredibly self referential, to the point where the joke is “yes, this is an Austin Powers film,” which I already figured out in the opening credits, so to be continually beat over the head with it was a bit much. While The Spy Who Shagged Me had a bit of this particular flaw, Goldmember’s cup overfloeth.
Gags are repeated again, from previous films, and the recurring chucklers, to mixed success. The mole jokes were fantastic, as was round 2 of Powers v Mini-Me, but the other repeated jokes fell flat, especially the interruption joke, shadow joke, fill in the sentence joke, and the awful, awful music video spoof, this time to Jay Z’s “Hard Knock Life.” The gag on Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” worked better, as it was in context with the film, and it was a timeless song. This time around, we get a montage that immediately dates the film, and is an albatross in that it sticks out like a sore thumb. The result of the video is utterly inane and flat out cheap, as Dr. Evil is magically seen outside the prison walls, that’s it.
Not all is bad, as Goldmember DID have potential. The use of numerous eras was represented extremely well (especially in costume design, although it wasn’t authentic), and the Dr. Evil channeling Hannibal Lector segment had great potential (until it was beaten over the head with it’s obviousness. Sometimes less is more, a concept that is unheard of in this series). Myers does an amazing job of handling four extreme opposite roles, atop his writing and producing credits. This is his tour de force, but to get me to watch Goldmember again (this being my second viewing), it would require the aforementioned force.
Austin Powers in Goldmember Movie Rating: 3/10
While Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery does age fairly well, and stands the test of repeat viewings, this particular Blu-ray may not do either.
The movie is packed full of vibrant colors, and they hold up well. Clothing can be greatly detailed, and facial features (hair, pores, stubble) can also be incredibly deep. The key words in that sentence are “can be,” as they can also, at times, be flat. I noticed a few soft shots, but none were prolonged, and may be the fault of the source, not the transfer. A few extended sequences have a white and/or yellow line across the top of the screen, which, when noticed, can be extremely distracting. Lastly, the grain level is not distracting (save for on Dr. Evil’s bald dome), and is very light, save for in white backdrops, where it becomes a metaphorical train wreck.
The audio for Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery defaults to a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but never you fear, Warner provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. On the bright side, the soundtrack sounds wonderful, and dialog is perfectly clear and understandable. On the less than bright side, the bass is mostly subdued, and the surround speakers are greatly under utilized.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Presentation Rating: 5/10
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:
Again, the presentation is mixed. Colors are very, very, well...colorful, for lack of a better word, with the Elvis Costello segment being by far the most vibrant sequence in the film. The grain level is the same as in International Man of Mystery, fairly light for the most part, with, again, white backgrounds looking ugly due to the busyness in them, and, again, grain on Dr. Evil’s head being annoying. Detail on clothing again can be great, the best spot that I saw was in Frau’s leather suit in the moon sequence. While there were a few dirt specks/imperfections, for the most part, the source is very clean, and for the most part, free from transfer imperfections (save for a moment of color banding). While the transfer was about on the same level as it’s predecessor, the shots on the beach are truly fantastic, with striking detail in the foreground (and background).
The audio is again defaults to basic Dolby Digital 5.1, but there is a Dolby TrueHD available from the menu. The same pros and cons are present here. Dialog is fully intelligible, and the soundtrack is lustrous. Surround speakers are not utilized very well, save for in the soundtrack. One noticeable difference between films was a slight ringing that could be heard during the Jerry Springer segments, whether it was part of the film or no, it was annoying.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Presentation Rating: 5/10
Austin Powers in Goldmember:
The Blu-ray of Goldmember is a bit soft, and it is still up in the air if it was the result of a soft/weak transfer (doubtful), or the application of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction). As such, Goldmember looks a bit less sharp than the previous entries. Regardless there are absolutely no dirt or blemishes on the print. Little accents (such as all the gold touches in the film) sparkled clearly, and the opening “mock” movie had great detail, with stray hairs showing with perfect clarity. Again, the grain level looked like hell on Dr. Evil and Mini-Me’s bald heads.
Again, the audio track defaulted to a generic Dolby Digital, again switchable to Dolby TrueHD. The track was also superior, with surround speakers getting a bit more to do than just play music, with a bit of ambiance sounds. Dialogue was again clear and perfectly understandable, even through Goldmember’s Dutch accent. The track is still a bit weak, as the bass didn’t do much kicking, but it is still an improvement.
Austin Powers in Goldmember Presentation Rating: 6/10
Austin Powers:First, there is an Audio Commentary with Mike Myers and Director Jay Roach that has few gaps in coverage, but for a comedy, it is amazingly bland and dull. I normally expect there to be something to laugh at in a comedy commentary, instead I hear them laugh at how bad something smelled. Yeah, so funny for us viewing at home!
There are 5 Deleted Scenes (6 min), some of which are an improvement to the film to leave out, but a few would have fit wonderfully in the film. The Flight Attendant scene has some very low PQ moments, but otherwise, they appear to be completed to near completed shots. Also included are 2 Alternate Endings (5 min) that don’t work anywhere near as well as the one included in the film, and seem a bit amateur. Lastly there is a Theatrical Trailer (2 min), that looks horribly dated.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Extras Rating: 3/10
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:The main extra for The Spy Who Shagged Me is the Audio Commentary featuring Mike Myers, Director Jay Roach, and co-writer Michael McCullers. This track has some moments of great comedy (imagine if the film had been dubbed Austinpussy (Octopussy), as originally proposed, and later parodied in Goldmember), but is amazingly sparse in coverage for a three-man commentary track. The Comedy Central’s “The Dr. Evil Story” (20 min) is a piece of publicity disguised as a mock documentary, with actors always in character, and is very well made in that sense. It cuts to footage a bit too often to be legit, though. Behind the Scenes of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (26 min) is a pretty generic behind the scenes feature, with nothing revolutionary or unique, but is a nice supplement for fans of the film.
The Spy Who Shagged Me also includes 21 Deleted Scenes (19 min), including a few stinkers, but also a few that are great (the handshake scene is fantastic, as is the scene with Fat Bastard in the volcano lair). There are 4 Music Videos including Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger,” Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman,” Mel B’s “Word Up” pre-Korn cover, and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me performing “Just the Two of Us.” Being presented in stereo and standard def does these titles no favors. The Mel B video is beyond bizarre, and that is the nicest I can say of it. Lastly, there are 3 Trailers, 2 of which are different versions of the same teaser.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Extras Rating: 6/10
Austin Powers in Goldmember:This Blu-ray is far more loaded than the prior entries, due to it being the only BD50 in the set. Focus Points pops up a disc icon, very similar to the Infinifilm effects of New Line dvd’s, that will play bonus feature/behind the scenes info when you press enter. This track would have been better utilized as a PIP track, to utilize the Blu-ray technology better. Having a technical extra come when Danny DeVito is flipping off the camera was a bit out of place. There is also a Fact Track, that was also present in the Infinifilm DVD of this release. This track would have also been better utilized being retooled for the Blu-ray to incorporate text boxes, instead of subtitle style and sized blocks of words, and can be a bit whorish (“For more FEMBOT footage, see both of the other Austin Powers movies.” is not something I need to see in a FACT track), even pimping the vehicles in the movie (the NEW BMW blahblahblah).
Next, there is an Audio Commentary by Jay Roach and Mike Myers , which is similar in tone to the other Commentaries in this set. Roach and Myers are hardly comical, just referential to anecdotes and encounters on set. This commentary isn’t one to worry over if you don’t ever sit down to it. MI:6: International Men of Mystery (4 min) is a serious look at MI:6, the British Secret Service, not the latest Tom Cruise vehicle. This feature is very informative, amazingly, for an extra in a comedy. English, English (2 min) checks in on the origins of the english variation of slang used in a single scene in the movie. The rhyming cockney language is one of the most confounding out there, and has Myers sitting down and being candid about the language his father utilized. Disco Fever (4 min) is a mini feature on the Beyonce “Solid Gold” disco song that introduces Goldmember, and a VERY brief history on disco. The worst part of this feature is the loop of the awful song. Fashion vs Fiction (2 min)is the feature on the costume design of the film, which is extensive due to the huge range of themes and times in the movie. It is fairly solid, despite the very short run time. Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creative Convergence (6 min) stops in on the script, and the actor’s reactions to Myers improvisation, and to Director Roach. The cool part of this feature was the discussion of body doubling due to the NUMEROUS roles of Myers, and how they filmed around it.
Confluence of Characters (15 min) is a dissection of four characters (Goldmember, Foxxy Cleopatra, Nigel Powers, Young Austin Powers and Dr. Evil), why they are in the film, what they bring to the film, and their quirks, sort of like introductions. This would be a nice feature to see before the film, but afterwards, it’s somewhat redundant. Opening Stunts (2 min) delves into the opening farce movie scene’s stunt work. They focus on the sky diving and stunt driving. The Cars of Austin Powers(2 min) should be self explanatory. The Austin Powers films have always had interesting vehicles in terms of the make, and the paint jobs and alterations done to them. The attention on each car is very short. Anatomy of Three Scenes (11 min) picks apart the scenes (the dance number after the Spielberg cameo, the roller disco bit, and the Japanese sets) and shows behind the scenes footage showing them being made. Visual Effects Intro/Play Scene (4 min) details some effects shots, on how they composited various effects in layers to create shots out of numerous pieces. The Play scene shows the Goldmember car layer by layer entering the Dr. Evil submarine, with explanations on why each piece was done in the order they were.
There’s 15 Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary by Director Jay Roach (18 min) includes an awesome deleted prison scene that gives new definition to the final attack in the original Matrix film, a great reference to Das Boot, and a nice prolonged scene in Japan with Fook Mi and Fook Yu. This set of deleted scenes is far better than your average cut shots, and has many shots superior to those in the film. When Play all is selected, there is virtually no gap between scenes, a plus in my book. Also included are 4 Music Videos (13 min), with Beyonce’s “Work it Out,” Britney Spears’ “Boys,” Ming Tea’s “Daddy Wasn’t There,” and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me performing “Hard Knock Life.” Lastly, there are some Trailers (4 teaser, 1 theatrical) (7 min), that include a great take on trailers featuring Mini Austin in the first teaser.Austin Powers in Goldmember Extras Rating: 7/10
Certainly, this release did a good enough job in bringing Austin Powers to Blu-ray, but it is not reference material by any means. The price is absolutely right for the set, Warner did a great job in setting a fair price for consumers, since they did not release the titles individually. The set has mixed audio and video, but they are all around average for Blu-ray releases. This set is worth a look, at least, even if it contains Goldmember.