|Austin Powers Collection (Shagadelic Edition: Loaded With Extra Mojo)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Wednesday, 10 December 2008|
The first Austin movie, “International Man of Mystery,” arrived in theaters in 1997 and grossed a slightly profitable $67 million worldwide. However, it was the home video sales that soared for the film. In 1999, Mike Myers wowed audiences again with “The Spy Who Shagged Me.” It grossed $300 million worldwide – a nice jump from the previous film’s total. Unfortunately, the third installment, “Goldmember” took a hit and grossed $212 million.
“International Man of Mystery” introduces us to Austin Danger Powers (Mike Myers), a spy for England’s ministry of defense – and the man with all the mojo. After Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) escapes to space, Powers volunteers to be cryogenically frozen, to be re-awakened if Dr. Evil should return. That was in 1967. 30 years later Powers is thawed to take on Dr. Evil. He partners with his ex-partner’s daughter, Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) to take on the evil “genius.” This is easily the most innovative and funny of the three films (although the second film does rank a close enough second). The plot is original (for the spoof genre) and Mike Myers is simply a genius.
After the first film revved up audiences everywhere, “The Spy Who Shagged Me” filled us with even more laughs. The addition of Heather Graham to the cast was brilliant. She embodies all the sexiness of an undercover spy. The plot is recycled from the first film, but somehow it still remains hilarious. The second film also introduces the legendary Mini-me character, played by Verne Troyer. He adds a new layer to the comedy of the Austin Powers films. Still, the second film comes in second best.
“Austin Powers in Goldmember” is the third film and just doesn’t live up to the standard Mike Myers set for himself with the first two films. The plot is recycled once again, there are two many complex storylines for a spoof film, and the hearts of the actors just didn’t seem to be in it for this film. Once again Austin Powers travels back in time – this time to the 1970s to look for a criminal, Johan van der Smut that likes to paint the youhughes Goooooold. The film ran out of ideas it seems and only produced the last film to tie up the loose ends for the fans. There are numerous cameos by actors such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny DeVito, Kevin Spacey, among others. Beyonce Knowles takes over for Elizabeth Hurley and Heather Graham, while Michael Caine appears as Austin’s father.
All the films have memorable scenes, but they tend to fizzle as they progress. Of course they are all numerously better than the lack of mojo for “The Love Guru.”
The video quality of “International Man of Mystery” is an impressive on the part of New Line. It is much better than I expected. The source is free from dust and print scratches. The colors are vibrant (although not quite as good as those in the second film). The black levels are deep and shadow delineation is impressive. The contrast is warm with no obvious blowout sequences. The details are above par, with terrific textures. There is some minor edge enhancement and issues with film grain. However, there is no digital noise reduction plaguing the transfer (unlike “Goldmember”). The film is also presented, for the first time, in its native 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which is a real treat.
Video Quality: 4/5
“The Spy Who Shagged” has the best video quality out of the bunch, which is surprising considering “Goldmember” is a newer film. This second film seems to have been the best preserved. The colors are exquisite. Heather Graham’s costumes leap off the screen. The fleshtones are also stable. The contrast rounds out the warm feeling the image provides. Details are terrific. Every scene has detailed objects that could never be noticed on the standard DVD. There is some film grain present, but that is much preferable than the blur created by any type of digital noise reduction. The rest of the image is clean – no scratches, dust, dirt. Nor is there artifacting or vertical banding. The only complaint that I have is that there is some minor edge enhancement. However, most would not be able to notice.
Video Quality: 4.5/5
“Goldmember” is the biggest disappointment. While the black levels, colors and contrast are just as stable as the first two films, there has been some digital processing applied to the image. Most noticeable is the amount of digital noise reduction that has been added. This DNR results in a muddy, blurred image. Details all but disappear, and textures are soft. There was also some edge enhancement present in the video image. A bit of a disappointment. But at least the first two films are given good treatment.
Video Quality: 3/5
The audio quality is standard throughout the three films, with a slight increase in quality as the films progress. This is probably due to the increase in available budget as the series evolved. A Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is present for each film. Each film is primarily dialogue, and it is well presented. It is clean and clear (although there are a couple of lines in the first film that are a bit weak). The LFE channel doesn’t function too much, but it is consistent. The bass is not loose and boomy like many other low-key sound design films. The dynamics are decent. The few explosive scenes punch up nicely, while the dialogue remains upfront. The surround channels don’t offer much in the way of discrete effects. There is a decent amount of ambience going on in the rear channels. Overall, a solid audio presentation for each of the films.
“International Man of Mystery”: 3.5/5
“The Spy Who Shagged Me”: 4/5
“Austin Powers in Goldmember”: 4/5
The three Blu-ray discs contain all the bonus materials present on the previously standard DVD releases. Unfortunately, it is all presented in standard definition. The first film contains an audio commentary with Jay Roach and Mike Myers. The commentary wears pretty thin after the first third or so of the movie. There is a collection of deleted scenes and alternate endings, in addition to a theatrical trailer.
The second film contains a bit more in terms of bonus materials. Again, there is an audio commentary with director Jay Roach and creator Mike Myers. They are joined by co-writer Michael McCullers. This is a pretty low-key commentary. Myers didn’t seem to be into doing it. There is a behind the scenes featurette that runs about 25 minutes. The compilation of deleted scenes doesn’t contain much of anything good. “The Dr. Evil Story” is a short mockumentary film on the origins of Dr. Evil. There are several music videos; Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger,” Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman,” Scary Spice’s “Word Up,” and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me’s “Just the Two of Us.” Finally there is a theatrical trailer.
On the “Goldmember” disc there is a third audio commentary by Roach and Myers. This is their best chat of the three. They cover a variety of aspects of the film. Unfortunately, the film is a disappointment. There is another collection of deleted and alternate scenes that fall short. “The World of Austin Powers” is the most extensive documentary on the three films. There are four production featurettes that total less than 15 minutes. They cover the costumes, music, and performances. There are an additional four music videos on this disc; Britney Spears’ “Boys,” Min Tea’s “Daddy Wasn’t There,” Beyonce’s “Work It Out,” and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me’s “Hard Knock Life.” The disc is also encoded with Focus Points, which allows you to access the production featurettes during film playback. The Fact Track is a text track that appears during the film playback. And finally, there is another theatrical trailer.
Overall, it is a decent package of supplemental features. I could only ask for the features to be in high definition.
The Austin Powers Collection is certainly a must own on Blu-ray disc. The three films vary in video quality, but all surpass the standard definition DVD presentations.