AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
Of the three films in the series, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER ($27) is undoubtedly the weakest. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny… far from it. There are plenty of sidesplitting moments, but there are a lot of other gags that only garner a grin or merely a chuckle. I would rate the opening sequence of AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER as the most inspired and hilarious of the three movies, but the humor in the rest of the film can be rather hit or miss. Perhaps this third helping isn’t quite as satisfying as the first two, because the audience has already been to the buffet and has sampled everything at least once or twice before. Mike Myers and company continue to display their penchant for gross (and bodily function inspired) humor, so those who are offended by this type of low comedy may not find much to laugh about. Still, where all is said and done, this reviewer found AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER to be a fun movie and the DVD is something every fan of the series is going to want to own.
The plot of AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER can be as convoluted as the biggest James Bond opus, but this is because the storyline for this movie is only a device that moves the characters from one comic bit to the next. In this outing, Austin Powers (Myers) captures Dr. Evil (Myers again) early in the proceedings and sends him off to prison. From behind bars Dr. Evil launches a plot to kidnap Austin’s father, Sir Nigel Powers (Michael Caine), and hide him in the 1970s with the gold obsessed Dutch criminal mastermind Johan van der Smutt AKA Goldmember (Myers yet again). As it turns out, Goldmember got his moniker when he lost his genitalia in an unfortunate smelting accident and then had it replaced with a golden substitute. When Austin learns of his father’s whereabouts, he travels back in time to Goldmember’s roller-disco lair, where he teams up with a beautiful CIA agent named Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles) to rescue Sir Nigel and foil Dr. Evil’s plans. The cast of AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER also features Seth Green, Verne Troyer, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Mindy Sterling, Fred Savage, Aaron Himelstein, Josh Zuckerman, and Mike Myers one additional time as his largest creation- Fat Bastard.
New Line Home Entertainment has made AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER available on DVD in 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This being a New Line DVD, one would expect an absolutely gorgeous presentation, which it delivers in spades. Stunning is a word that immediately comes to mind when thinking about how good this DVD looks. The image is super crisp, wonderfully bright and incredibly vibrant- definitely another demonstration caliber disc for video presentation. Colors are to die for- richly saturated and glowing, with no signs of noise or smearing. Although surrounded by a swirl of intensely saturated hues, flesh tones remain highly appealing and never appear unnatural. Blacks are velvety and deep, while the whites are crisp and clean. Additionally, shadow detail is nothing short of excellent. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed, even though this dual layer disc has been pretty well filled with soundtrack and supplemental feature options.
Speaking of soundtrack options, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER features Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES soundtracks. Not your typical comedy sound mix, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER has a rather aggressive sound design. Plenty of whiz-bang sound effects swirl around the soundstage during the more James Bond-ish moments, but I found the real highlight of this soundtrack to be its music and songs. I am a big fan of the musical opening credit sequences from the Austin Powers movies, and this one is certainly the best sounding of the bunch. Additionally, the roller-disco sequence is another of the film's sonic highlight, as is the amusing Dr. Evil Mini-Me prison number. Surround usage is excellent throughout the course of the movie, and the rear channels have been exceedingly well used for the music portion of the mix. Dialogue is crisp and completely understandable, while the voices are reproduced with a very natural timbre. And unlike your typical comedy, the bass channel is guaranteed to put your subwoofer through its paces. As for the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS, DTS definitely produces a warmer, richer sound, but otherwise isn’t much different than its Dolby Digital counterpart. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a solid array of supplemental features. This being an Infinifilm release, the DVD offers the option of going Beyond The Movie and watching AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER in an interactive mode, in which supplements pertaining to a particular sequence become available during the course of the film. The majority of supplements can also be viewed via the All Access Pass, which offers the supplements in standard fashion.
Going Beyond The Movie, one finds a subtitle Fact Track of information about the movie, Austin Powers and all things remotely related. MI-6: International Man of Mystery is a four-minute program that looks at the origins of the British Secret Service. English, English is a two-minute explanation of the indecipherable English spoken by Austin and Nigel Powers while in Goldmember’s lair. Disco Fever is a four-minute program that looks back on the 70’s music that was such a huge part of one of the film’s key sequences. Fashion vs. Fiction runs under two minutes and looks at the how costumes remained true to the different eras depicted in the film.
Onto the All Access Pass, things start off with a great running audio commentary featuring director Jay Roach and Mike Meyers. This is an entertaining and very detailed commentary that fans are sure to enjoy. About twenty-five minutes of deleted scenes, with optional commentary, have also included on the DVD. There is actually a lot of very good material here, some of which should have been put back into the body of the film- especially the Burt Bacharach redo musical number- What’s It All About, Austin. The musical number is a real charmer and I think it would have been one of the film’s highlights.
Another set of supplements has been grouped together under the heading- The World Of Austin Powers. Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creative Convergence is six-minute program, which looks at the synergy between the director and star, as well as how the Austin Powers movies leave the creative team a lot of room for improvisation. Confluence of Characters runs fifteen minutes and provides insight into the origins of various characters and the influences that shaped them. Opening Stunts clocks in at a little over two minutes and gives some detail on how these highflying moments were achieved. Anatomy of Three Scenes dissects three sequences from the movie and shows how they were put together (approximately eleven minutes). Visual Effects give a four plus minute look at how many of the film’s special effects were achieved.
The DVD also includes the following four music videos: Work It Out by Beyoncé Knowles, Boys by Britney Spears, Daddy Wasn't There by Ming Tea and Hard Knock Life by Dr. Evil and Mini-Me. Four teaser trailers and a theatrical trailer close out the video supplements. On the DVD-ROM side, PC users will find the Austin Powers Revoice Studio, which allows them to replace the voices of characters from the movie with their own. This is really a fun feature that has been well implemented, as well as being very easy to use and have a few laughs with. Other DVD-ROM features include web links, exclusive web content and screensavers.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER may not be the best of the three films in the highly popular series, but it is still a whole lot of fun. On the other hand, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER is definitely the best of the three DVD releases. New Line’s DVD delivers awesome image and sound quality, in addition to some truly excellent supplemental features. If you are an Austin Powers fan- don’t hesitate in picking up this terrific disc.
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