AUSTIN POWERS COLLECTION
AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
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Although it wasn’t a huge boxoffice champion in 1997, AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY proved itself a goofy good spoof of the sixties spy genre, that built a comedy movie franchise on a solid foundation home video dollars. AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY opens in 1967, where we are introduced to the character Austin Powers (Mike Myers) who does double duty as a swinging fashion photographer and super-spy. When he isn’t taking pictures, Powers is on the trail of a super-villain known as Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers). Just as our hero is finally about to capture his nemesis, Dr. Evil launches himself into orbit in a cryogenic freezing capsule, vowing to return at some point in the future. Thirty years into the future, Dr. Evil’s space capsule lands in Las Vegas… signaling the super-villain return. With the return of Dr. Evil, the British government defrosts Austin Powers, who has been kept in the deep freeze for just this purpose. The rest of the film is a fish out of water tale of a sixties hero and villain trying to find their way in a world that has passed them by.
Back in the sixties, Austin Powers was the epitome of cool. However, in the nineties the super-spy is out of step with the times, and finds himself moving from one social blunder to another. Of course, Mike Myers’ screenplay also relishes in poking fun at nineties pop culture, as it lovingly tweaks the sixties. While, much of AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY is downright silly, it is an irresistible silliness that constitutes much of this good-natured film’s appeal. Elizabeth Hurley portrays Vanessa Kensington; the sexy daughter of Powers’ former partner- Mrs. Kensington (Mimi Rogers who has never looked better than she does in her leather cat suit). Like her mother, Vanessa has been assigned to work with Austin Powers. Hurley is a beautiful and charming actress, whose talent lies not in her looks, but winning screen presence. The cast of AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY also features Michael York as Basil Exposition, Robert Wagner (who has never been funnier) as Number Two, Seth Green as Scott Evil, Mindy Sterling as Frau Farbissina and the ever-luscious Fabiana Udenio as Alotta Fagina. Also look for cameo appearances from Will Ferrell, Clint Howard, Burt Bacharach, Tom Arnold, Carrie Fisher and Susanna Hoffs.
AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
Mini Me, stop humping the
"laser". Honest to God!
AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED is the even funnier sequel to AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY. Like a James Bond movie, AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME sticks to a basic formula of introducing a new Powers’ Girl, plus a new evil henchman, while having the hero square off against the megalomaniacal villain once again. However, unlike a Bond movie, everything in this film is played strictly for laughs. AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME picks up the story at the point when the first film ended. Austin, who has almost adapted to the monogamous nineties lifestyle, discovers on his honeymoon that his bride is in reality one of Dr. Evil's deadly fembots. Single once more, Austin the eternal swinger is ready to take on the world. That is, until Dr. Evil launches his latest plot to take over the world.
With the aid of a time machine, Dr. Evil journeys back to the year 1969 where he attempts to render Austin Powers powerless by stealing his mojo from his still cryogenically frozen body. Discovering his mojo gone, Austin is forced to follow Dr. Evil back in time to thwart his evil plans and to recover his stolen mojo. Confused? Don't worry; you'll be laughing too hard to care. Anyway, once he's back in the swinging sixties, Austin teams up with the beautiful American agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) to locate Dr. Evil's secret lair and stop his latest insane (or is it inane) plot for world domination.
The brilliance of the entire Austin Powers phenomena lies in its characters. A bespectacled, fashion photographer with really bad teeth and foppish clothing isn't anyone's idea of a sexy British secret agent, yet Mike Myers brings off the character of Austin Powers with such finesse that one can't help but be charmed by this hilarious creation. Even funnier than Austin Powers is Myers' other creation- Dr. Evil. Dr. Evil is a completely clueless megalomaniac who comes up with one half-baked idea after another to take over the world and eliminate his enemy Austin Powers. The funniest thing about Dr. Evil is how everyone within his evil empire takes him seriously- all except his own son Scott (perfectly essayed by Seth Green) who recognizes his father's obvious shortcomings.
Speaking of shortcomings, AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME introduces the character- a 1/8-scale clone of Dr. Evil whom the bad doctor has dubbed Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). Anytime Dr. Evil and Mini-Me are on screen together, there is guaranteed laughter. Another Mike Myers creation guaranteed to get laughs is Fat Bastard, a rotund Scotsman who takes lowbrow humor to a hilarious new low. Robert Wagner provides another great comic turn as Dr. Evil's right hand man Number Two, plus Rob Lowe does an utterly amazing Wagner impersonation as the younger version of Number Two. Not to be left out is Mindy Sterling, who is utterly sublime as Dr. Evil's right hand woman Frau Farbissina. The cast of AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME also features Kristen Johnston as Ivana Humpalot and Gia Carides as Robin Swallows. Also look for cameo appearances from Clint Howard, Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Tim Robbins, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Jerry Springer.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
Our early attempts at a
tractor beam went through several preparations.
Of the three films in the series, AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER 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 somewhat 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 rather funny and enjoyable movie.
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 captures Dr. Evil 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 (yet another Mike Myers creation). 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 and Josh Zuckerman. Also look for cameo appearances from Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Britney Spears, Nathan Lane, Katie Couric, Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne, Jack Osbourne, John Travolta and Burt Bacharach.
Warner Home Video has made the films that comprise the AUSTIN POWERS COLLECTION ($75) available on Blu-ray Disc in 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto their respective discs with the VC-1 codec. It is especially nice to have the first film restored to its theatrical framing. The 1080p presentations get even more groovy, baby! with each successive film, with all three movies looking totally shagadelic in relation to their standard definition counterparts. All three movies sport generally excellent levels of image clarity, sharpness and fine detail. O course, high definition does make some of the actors’ makeup appear a little more obvious, but you have to expect that greater resolution reveals not only the beauty, but the occasional wart as well. Some shots are a bit softer, due to photography and effects work, but there is nothing that appears particularly out of sorts. Color reproduction is excellent across the board, as all three movies have a rather vibrant palette and rock solid hues. Additionally, blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp for all three movies, plus the contrast is just fine, as is the level of shadow detail. One will notice light grain in all three films, which helps keep the presentations organic looking.
The films that comprise the AUSTIN POWERS COLLECTION are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. Not surprisingly, all three films come with fairly standard, dialogue driven comedy mixes. Channel separations and the sense of envelopment that the mixes provide get better with each film, the opening to GOLDMEMBER stands out, but the improved sonics aren’t consistent enough for the rest of the film to constitute demo material. The musical portion of each soundtrack sounds better than it has in the past, thanks to the lossless encoding. I get a kick out of Soul Bossa Nova every time I hear it, and how can anyone go wrong with a Burt Bacharach tune? The bass channel proves sufficient for the material, with some rumble coming through in places. For all three films, dialog is crisp and always easy to understand. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track is included for each film. THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME also includes Spanish and Portuguese 2.0 tracks, while GOLDMEMBER also includes a Spanish 2.0 track. Subtitles are provided in English on all three films, while THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME also includes Spanish and Portuguese subtitles, while GOLDMEMBER also includes Spanish subtitles.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, most of which have been ported from the DVD editions. AUSTIN POWERS INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY starts with a running Audio Commentary featuring Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings are also provided, as is a Theatrical Trailer. AUSTIN POWERS THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME starts with a running Audio Commentary featuring Mike Myers, director Jay Roach and co-writer Michael McCullers. Nearly twenty minutes of Deleted Scenes and Theatrical Trailers are also provided, as are four Music Videos, including Beautiful Stranger by Madonna, American Woman by Lenny Kravitz (featuring Heather Graham), Word Up by Mel B and Just The Two Of Us by Dr. Evil & Mini-Me. Look for Behind The Scenes Of Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me and Comedy Central’s Canned Ham: The Dr. Evil Story to close the second disc.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER has the most extensive array of supplements, which begins with a running Audio Commentary featuring Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. A subtitle Fact Track of information about the movie, Austin Powers and all things remotely related is also provided. Featurettes include: 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.
The World Of Austin Powers includes the following programs: 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. About twenty-five minutes of Deleted Scenes, with optional commentary, have also included on the disc. There are also 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 & Mini-Me. Four Teaser Trailers and a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplements for the third feature.
The AUSTIN POWERS COLLECTION provides one with a boxful of high definition laughter. While not demo material, the Blu-ray editions of these movies truly look great and sound quite pleasing. So is the AUSTIN POWERS COLLECTION recommended? I’ll respond with a rousing yeah, baby, yeah!!!
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