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Austin Powers Collection (1997-2002)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/2/2008
All Ratings out of
Video (average): 1/2
Extras (average): 1/2
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/3/2008
I can still remember the first time that I saw Austin Powers. Not the movie, the character. It must have been in 1996, when Entertainment Tonight still resembled an entertainment-news program. They visited the set of the film and interviewed Mike Myers. The whole thing looked ridiculous and I predicted a flop. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery opened in May, 1997 and did solid numbers, but didn't really make a splash. Like so many others, I rented it and was completed befuddled from what I saw, declaring the movie to be garbage. But then, I found myself thinking about the movie, so I watched it again and, being prepared for the fact that it's truly warped, enjoyed it the second go 'round. I liked it so much that I bought the laserdisc. (Take that!) Of course, the series has gone on to be phenomenally successful and the trilogy has now come to Blu-ray Disc.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery introduced us to Austin Powers (Mike Myers), England's best secret agent of the 1960s. As the film opens, Powers is pursuing his nemesis, Dr. Evil (also Myers) through London, when Evil manages to escape into space. Learning that Dr. Evil has cryogenically frozen himself, Powers agrees to the same process, so that he can be thawed when Dr. Evil returns. The story leaps ahead to 1997. Dr. Evil comes back to Earth and joins his henchmen, Number 2 (Robert Wagner) and Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling). As Dr. Evil is back, Austin is thawed and assigned to work with Miss Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). The only problem is that Austin still acts as if he's in the swinging sixties and can't get used to modern life. Will he be able to stop Dr. Evil's villainous plan?
In essence, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a spoof of the James Bond series and other spy movies. But, instead of simply riffing on those films, it goes off in its own direction, and isn't afraid to be an incredibly odd movie. But once you get accustomed to the fact that this is a very silly movie which has no interest in reality, then you are in for a comedy treat. Myers and Director Jay Roach pull no punches in presenting Austin as an enthusiastic and horny, yet somewhat stupid secret agent, while Dr. Evil is neurotic and fussy, feeling that no one respects him. Bringing human foibles to these characters only adds to the fun. The movie contains one class scene after another and while everyone quotes the "Oh behave!" line, there are many more memorable lines here, making this one of the more quotable films of the past decade.
For the Austin Powers: International Man of MysteryBlu-ray Disc, the film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing some slight grain at times, but no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the depth is good. However, the image lacks in detail at times and is a touch soft. The Disc has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a good track, as it provides nice stereo and subwoofer effects. The in-film music sounds very good. However, the surround is lacking and it only shows occasionally. The audio in the final action scene is notably good.
The Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Myers and Director Jay Roach. We get five DELETED SCENES, which run about 6 minutes, and two ALTERNATE ENDINGS, which run about 5 minutes. There are nice cameos by Rob Lowe and Cheri Oteri here, and a demonstration of Austin's ability to count money. The alternate endings directly reference Bond films. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
When Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery became a true hit on home video, a sequel was inevitable, and thus Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was born. This time, Dr. Evil devises a plan to go back in time to 1969, where Austin is still frozen, and steal his "mojo". The plan works and Austin (in the present) becomes impotent. Austin then goes travels to the past as well in order to stop Dr. Evil. There, he meets American agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), who helps Austin on his mission.
This film is somewhat of a mixed bag (baby). Myers obviously got the message from fans that they loved Dr. Evil, as he gets more screen-time here. And, of course, the introduction of Dr. Evil's miniature clone, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), brought about one of the most unique movie characters of late. Myers also wisely added more of Evil's son, Scott (Seth Green), the only person in Dr. Evil's organization who has any common sense. However, Myers and Graham never seem to gel and while Austin is a still a silly goofball, he's just not a funny in this one. But, after Dr. Evil's musical number, you'll forget all about that.
For itsBlu-ray Disc debut, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc has a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, but there are some moments where the grain can't be ignored. There are no visible defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the image is never too dark or bright. The depth and detail are OK, but not as good as top-notch Blu-ray releases. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.9 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio here is good, but inconsistent, so it's never great. The stereo effects are good and nicely detailed. The surround sound effects are impressive, but they don't occur nearly enough. However, just check out the scene where Fat Bastard enters Dr. Evil's lair and you'll see that this track can shine when it needs to.
The Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Myers, Roach, and co-writer Michael McCullers. "Comedy Central's The Dr. Evil Story" (20 minutes) is a mockumentary on Dr. Evil's life hosted by Robert Culp. The fake show, "Spyography", contains comments from the film's characters and clips from the film. (This is all played very straight.) "Behind the Scenes of Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me" (26 minutes) is a fairly straight-forward featurette, which offers comments from the cast and filmmakers. We get some on-set footage, and Myers and Roach discuss the influences and goals of the film. The Disc contains 22 DELETED SCENES, which run about 19 minutes. Most of these are actually longer versions of scenes from the film, but there is definitely some funny material here. There are four MUSIC VIDEOS here: "Beautiful Stranger" by Madonna; "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz; "Word Up" by Mel B; and "Just the Two of Us" by Dr. Evil and Mini-Me. The Disc offers three TRAILERS for the film.
After taking time to work on Shrek, Myers returned with Austin Powers in Goldmember. The film continues the time travel theme offered in the second film. Dr. Evil goes back to the 1970s to enlist the aid of Goldmember (Myers), a Dutchman who is obsessed with gold and who has developed a powerful tractor beam. In order to keep Austin in check, Dr. Evil kidnaps Austin's father, Nigel Powers (Michael Caine). Austin must travel back in time to find his Dad, and there he meets Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles). Together with Austin's father, they work together to stop Dr. Evil.
Austin Powers in Goldmember combines an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality with some new ideas. Knowing that Dr. Evil and Mini-Me are both popular, this sequel features even more of them (although, please note that Dr. Evil's lazy eye is suddenly gone!). We also get more Scott Evil, which is always a good thing. But, Myers has clearly gone back to the weird drawing board with Goldmember, who is a simply insane character. (The "Austin Power's fahza" scene always kills me.) The addition of Michael Caine and an exploration of Austin and Dr. Evil's past was a master-stroke. The opening credits are truly inspired and were a great way to set the tone for the movie. The only weak-link here is Beyonce, who is sassy, but never seems to be on board with the comedy.
Austin Powers in Goldmember hits Blu-ray Disc with the film being letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc featuring a 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, with some grain, but not as bad as the second film. The colors look great, but the image may be a bit too bright. The image's crispness produces very nice detail and acceptable depth. The Disc has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio in the stunt-heavy opening is very impressive, but it falls off after that. The stereo effects are good and there is some nice bass as times, but the surround sound is limited and the track doesn't have much presence.
The Austin Powers in Goldmember Blu-ray Disc contains many extras. Choosing the "Focus Points" icon will bring up an icon from time-to-time in the movie. When activated, we get a behind-the-scenes look at the present scene. Similarly, "Fact Track" brings up subtitles which give us background information the film. The Disc contains an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Myers and Roach. The featurettes available in "Focus Points" can be viewed individually. "MI-6: International Men of Mystery" (4 minutes) examines the real organization of spies in Britain through comments from an expert and a look at spy movies. Myers explains the bizarre slang that Austin and his father use in "English, English" (2 minutes). "Disco Fever" (4 minutes) looks at how the 70s are portrayed in the film. "Fashion vs. Fiction" (2 minutes) profiles designer Deena Appel. The star and director discuss how they work together and create jokes in "Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creative Converence" (6 minutes). "Confluence of Characters" (15 minutes) allows the actors to discuss Goldmember, Foxxy Cleopatra, Nigel Powers, Master Powers, and Master Evil. "Opening Stunts" (2 minutes) examing the action in the credits sequence. "The Cars of Austin Powers" (2 minutes) brings us closer to the Shaguar, the Mini, and others. "Anatomy of Three Scenes" (11 minutes) takes us inside the opening dance, the disco, and the sumo battle. "Visual Effects" (4 minutes) shows how the visual effects were created for the film, and then breaks down one scene. The Disc contains 15 DELETED SCENES which run about 19 minutes and can be viewed with commentary by Roach. We get four MUSIC VIDEOS: "Work it Out" by Beyonce; "Boys" by Britney Spears; "Daddy Wasn't There" by Ming Tea; and "Hard Knock Life" by Dr. Evil and Mini-Me. The final extras are five TRAILERS for the movie.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long