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Austin Powers in Goldmember Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 December 2002

Austin Powers in Goldmemeber

New Line Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: PG-13
starring: Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Seth Green, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Mindy Sterling, Verne Troyer, Michael Caine, Fred Savage
release year: 2002
film rating: Four Stars
sound/picture: Four Stars
reviewed by: Mel Odom

The third installment of the Austin Powers series packs as much punch and audacity as the first two movies in the franchise. A viewer looking for marvelous wit and off-beat humor, not to mention outlandish plot twists, dance numbers, and costumes, need go no farther than this tip of the hat to James Bond and other spy movies featuring babes, cars, gadgets, and explosive action.

However, fans of the James Bond 007 films, if they don’t already know, might discover that Austin Powers, Great Britain’s sexiest and grooviest superspy, might not be their cup of tea. But the energy, the slapstick routines, and the pure homage to the spy films can’t be denied. If James Bond had not been invented and found success on the silver screen, Austin Powers would never have existed.

“Austin Powers in Goldmember” also succeeds in bringing another brand of moviemaking magic back into the limelight. Back in the 1970s, low-budget action pictures featuring black actors and actresses filled movie houses and jump-started the careers of Richard Roundtree, Bernie Casey, and Pam Grier, who later starred in “Jackie Brown.” Grier starred as “Foxy Brown,” one of the characters Beyonce’s character Foxxy Cleopatra takes her name from (the moniker is also a reference to Tamara Dobson’s “Cleopatra Jones” – both films are out on DVD). These black action pictures were once known as blaxploitation films, but are referred to as Soul Cinema in the bonus materials on the DVD.

In addition to the usual cast of characters in an Austin Powers film, “Goldmember” also introduces Austin’s dad, sexy superspy Nigel Powers, played by Michael Caine. Although the role is not one of Caine’s more stellar efforts, no one else could truly be the father of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers. The Big Family Secret is also revealed.

Chapter 1 opens up with explosive sound that rocks the surround sound system to the core and buries the needle on the subwoofer. The video opens up on an obvious chase. The audience has no clue who is being chased or why, but those mysteries don’t matter because the sound and the music pull the viewers directly into the action. A familiar figure whizzes through the air in a blue suit, and all doubt is erased immediately when the parachute opens to reveal the British flag across the canopy.

As a female motorcyclist flees for her life below, the hero uses a remote control to summon his Shaguar, also marked with the distinctive colors of the British flag. As the man makes an amazing drop onto the speeding car, an attack helicopter swings into position and opens fire. The rockets rip through the front and center speakers, then detonate with basso booms that light up the subwoofer. After an incredible athletic display and over-the-top action sequence, the camera pulls back to reveal that Tom Cruise is playing Austin Powers in a movie, while Kevin Spacey appears as Dr. Evil and Gwyneth Paltrow is motorbike-riding Dixie Normous.

As overpowering as the opening sequence is, the hits keep on coming as Austin (now played by Myers) gets into a disagreement with Steven Spielberg that suddenly erupts into a dance number that has to be seen to be believed. The dance sequence continues into a movie studio where Britney Spears is filming a new music video.

Dr. Evil (Myers again) reveals his latest plan in Chapter 2. The sound of thunder rolls through the surround system as the camera moves into the hidden lair behind the huge Hollywood sign. Dr. Evil plans on building a tractor beam to pull a huge gold meteor into the earth. He’s going to use his time machine to go back to 1975 and enlist Goldmember, the man who knows how to invent the tractor beam. Before Dr. Evil can put his plan into operation, Austin Powers arrives with a group of shock troops and takes Dr. Evil into custody.

Chapter 3 shifts to a scene of Austin being knighted by the Queen of England. Austin looks around to check for his father, who Austin is certain will be on hand for the event, but Nigel Powers’ chair remains empty in the otherwise packed house. Everyone is there but Austin’s father. The surround sound swirls the laughter at Austin’s plight all around the audience, making us feel as though we’re sitting in the middle of the crowd.

We are then plunged into Austin’s pad as he launches into another song, “Daddy Wasn’t There.” The music, by Ming Tea, thunders along through the sound system, making us feel as though we’re right there partying with Austin and his sexy Chinese twin visitors. In the middle of all the festivities, Austin is told that his father has been kidnapped.

Having no other choice, Austin goes to see Dr. Evil in a scene that is reminiscent of “Silence Of The Lambs.” Over the next few minutes, Austin and Dr. Evil’s shared past is revealed in a series of brief clips from their spy school days. When young Austin wins the International Man of Mystery award from his school, his father is again conspicuously absent, and the surround sound system reverberates with laughter.

When Dr. Evil goes to the toilet, the liquid noises appropriately place him in the right main speaker. In a bid to rescue his father, Austin makes a deal with Dr. Evil to transfer the would-be world ruler to regular prison so he can be with Mini-Me (Vern Troyer).

The special time-traveling pimpmobile Austin uses to jet back to 1975 to save his father in Chapter 4 is awesome to behold. The music streaming from the car crashes through the surround sound system. In Goldmember’s club in 1975, Austin sees Foxxy Cleopatra, a lead singer of a group that looks like the Solid Gold Dancers. The throbbing beat hammers through the subwoofer, and the music surrounds us as applause rattles all around, enveloping us.

A roller derby numbers ensues, which harkens back to those days of wild colors and free love, and introduces another character: Goldmember (played again in a sterling performance by Mike Myers). The music drives this scene, and the DVD does it justice. Austin sits down and gets a message from Foxxy Cleopatra through an intermediary (played by Nathan Lane in what has to be one of the funniest visual gags in the film), revealing that the two agents know each other.

Chapter 5 reveals the origin of Dr. Evil, with a car explosion that reverberates through the subwoofer. Later, at the prison where Dr. Evil has been transferred, a scene in the style of a rap video booms through the speakers.

Dr. Evil’s submarine, revealed in Chapter 7, is completely over the top. The sub propulsion noises are appropriate. Nigel Powers puts up a valiant effort to escape and capture Dr. Evil, but is recaptured. His struggle echoes through the left and right main speakers, giving the sequence a properly cavernous sound.

Chapter 8 kicks up the sound again as music throbs over an airfield as Austin’s jet comes into Tokyo for a landing. Later, at the sumo wrestling event where Austin and Foxxy confront Fat Bastard (Myers yet again), the flesh-against-flesh impacts detonate in the subwoofer and roll through the front speakers. The noise of the crowd echoes through the front speakers, making us feel as though we’re spectators in the seats. Later, when Fat Bastard finishes his business in the toilet, the flush sounds in the right front speaker, marking Fat Bastard’s position. The scene continues and gets sick and twisted.

In Chapter 9, Scott Evil (Seth Green) rises to his dad’s maniacal hopes and desires, losing hair and becoming as nefarious as Dr. Evil. The father/son breakthrough results in getting Mini-Me kicked out of the fraternity of bad guys, providing a new twist in the movies.

Chapter 10 offers a visual treat in witticisms regarding the subtitles that translate the Japanese language. The fountain sequence in Dr. Evil’s lair gets a ton of mileage that is filled with belly-bursting laughter. Goldmember’s amazing leg dexterity shows up for the first time in this chapter but will become a recurring gag throughout the rest of the movie. As the action escalates, explosions, gunfire, and racing car engines ring out all around the surround sound system. The chase breaks out in full force, and “Goldmember” borrows an ingot from “Goldeneye” with the not-Godzilla sequence. The CB channel-chatter between Dr. Evil and Goldmember is hilarious.

Recruited by Basil Exposition (Michael York), Mini-Me turns up as Austin’s new partner, known as the Mole (Fred Savage), after a hilarious fight sequence in Chapter 12. The noise of the battle is muted in the background as the Mole steps outside, but sharpens back up again immediately as the camera shifts back inside the room. The sound of the submarine crash-diving in Chapter 13 slams through the surround sound system with authenticity and comes across much larger than life. The scene behind the curtain in the submarine lair’s medical bay is not to be missed and is a purely guilty pleasure. Dr. Evil’s dance number in Chapter 14 is accompanied by a big band sound that plays terrifically through the surround sound system.

Infinifilm is a product of New Line Home Entertainment that allows the viewer to take direct control of how the extras loaded on the DVD are viewed. All of the documentaries, featurettes, and special bites of information about the film’s background, history, special effects, stunts, and other items of interest can be viewed individually or, after clicking the Play Infinifilm control, the film will play and all of the special additions will appear in “pop-up” menus onscreen wherever the director, actors, writer, stunt gaffer, and/or whoever prepared the featurette deems that the piece being offered will do the most good. “Goldmember” is the sixth film to be offered from New Line Home Entertainment with Infinifilm. The DVD interface is an absolute joy to use and easy to pick up and use. The “Beyond the Movie” bits have to do with the featurettes generated about the subject matter of the film, while the “All Access Pass” offers the deleted scenes, commentary, and music videos.

The extras include several bits about the plot, costuming, dance numbers, and film lore, as well as insight into the Austin Powers franchise and the humor of Mike Myers. The commentary with Myers and director Jay Roach shows the deep friendship the two have, as well as the respect each has for the other’s talent. The videos of Knowles and Spears are definitely bonuses for male viewers, because both are hot and sexy numbers.

While “Goldmember” might not find its way onto every DVD collector’s shelves, fans of the Austin Powers franchise will definitely want to pick this movie up. Movie lovers who want a fast-paced and enjoyable laugh-a-thon with some racy humor, sexy babes, and a view askew of James Bond need to rent “Goldmember” for a night of light-hearted entertainment that delivers again and again.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound; DTS ES 6.1 Surround Sound; Stereo Surround Sound
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Commentary with Director Jay Roach & Mike Myers; Deleted Scenes; “The World of Austin Powers” Featurette; Visual FX documentary; Infinifilm Features; “MI-6: International Man of Mystery” Featurette; “English, English” Featurette; “Disco Fever” Featurette; “Fashion Vs. Fiction” Featurette; Fact Track; Music Videos; Trailers; English Closed-Captioning
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reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: RCA RT2280
main speakers: RCA RT2280
center speaker: RCA RT2280
rear speakers: RCA RT2280
subwoofer: RCA RT2280
monitor: 42-inch Toshiba HD Projection TV

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