A series that gradually built up a fan base with each installment, Austin Powers proved to be a fruitful outing for New Line Cinema. Although each film built upon the other in terms of jokes told, the box office intake also seemed to grow with each installment. Each film, crazier than the last with its incessant toilet-humor fueled dialogue and visuals gags that were about as subtle as a brick to the head, only further pushed Mike Myers into the stratosphere in terms of popularity. Although he’s yet to revisit the franchise, no doubt we’ll see another film of the shagadelic secret agent in the near future.
Austin Powers-International Man of Mystery Name: Austin Danger Powers. Sex: Yes, please! Combine the swinging ’60s, spy movies, talented Mike Myers in dual roles and one hilariously well- placed champagne bottle and you get Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Say “Yeah, baby!” for laughs as Flower Power-era superspy Austin (Myers) is thawed from a 30-year cryogenic freeze to stop the world-dominating scheme of bald baddie Dr. Evil (also Myers). Elizabeth Hurley, shagadelic style and Austin’s randy attempts to find ’60s-style free love in a very different, uptight time add to the groovy fun of this mad, mod, Myers world.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me He’s back – back in the 1960s. Secret agent Austin Powers (Mike Myers) hops in a top-secret time machine and zips 30 years back to 1969 to confront Dr. Evil (Myers) and his latest, vilest scheme. Evil is eviler – he has a diminutive clone Mini-Me (Verne J. Troyer) and massive Fat Bastard (Myers) as a henchmen. Austin, who “put the grrr in swinger, baby,” is swingier…if he and fab spy chick Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) can recover the mojo Evil stole from Austin.
Austin Powers in Goldmember The mission for Austin (Mike Myers): Shake booty into the glittery roller-disco days of 1975 and rescue his suave spy dad (Michael Caine) from the scheme of – Shh! – Dr. Evil (Myers). The minions: freaky-flakey Goldmember, Fat Bastard (both played by Myers) and Mini Me (Verne Troyer). The minx: Austin’s sassy ex-squeeze Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles). The result: a three-for-all of grooviness that whisks from the 2000s to the 1970s and back to the 2000s – the screamingly funny third Austin Powers!
There’s something about the Austin Powers films that still entertain me to this day. Oddly enough when watching the first and second film I didn’t laugh as much nearly as much as when I got to Goldmember. The way each film progressed, it slowly built on or recalled jokes from past films that made you laugh simply because of their history—which may sound like a cheap way out, but to be honest I’ve never laughed so hard at movies that are so overly simple in story and tone. There’s nothing in the films that really would make you think an intelligent person was behind them, what with all of the fart and sex jokes that run rampant in the film, but that is part of what’s so funny about the films—they’re simple, stupid, and easily accessible.
What surprised me most about these films is that they were so well received when Myers latest theatrical outing, The Love Guru, was a film that wasn’t much different from these three. I guess a Bond spoof just goes over better than a story about a Deepak Chopra wannabe. Still, these films do feel a tad bit dated at times, especially with the pop culture references (Britney Spears and the Osbournes in Goldmember? Wow.) that are so very dated now. Still, for every dated reference that pops up, there are gems like the Tom Arnold toilet discussion in the first film or the “I open mouth kissed a horse once” joke from the third that remind you just how fast-paced and witty these films can be.
By now the Austin Powers films are old hat and if you haven’t seen the hilarity of Mini-Me, Fat Bastard or Scotty, then you probably won’t ever. It’s definitely a series that could grate on ones nerves if they aren’t a fan of Myers, but if for some reason you enjoy the man’s body of work and haven’t seen this trilogy, then do yourself a favor and check it out. Regardless if you have, this trilogy is Recommended–it’s a bit rough around the edges with the dated references, but it’s really a hilarious series through and through. Whether it’s the various celebrity cameos or even the supporting role provided by Caine in the third installment, the films are never lacking in star power either.
Warner continues their love fest with thin-pak Blu-ray cases (which they unleashed with the Ultimate Matrix release) and slides the trio of cases inside a reflective foil box set. Each case contains only one disc, with the usual inserts (update your firmware!) and there’s a surprising lack of digital copies with this release. As with all Warner titles, the films auto-start and the menus are simple text-based non-motion affairs.
Moving onto the video transfers, each of the films comes with a VC-1 encoded 2.35:1 video transfer. Quite honestly there isn’t a whole lot here in any of the films that will floor you, but the vibrant color palette does come through remarkably well. The later films are of the crisper and cleaner variety, naturally, but all of them look quite clean and clear. The transfer can get a bit soft at times, especially on International Man of Mystery but overall it’s a fine transfer for a series that is largely nothing more than a spoof.
For the audio we actually get TrueHD 5.1 tracks all around for this release. I guess Warner is finally moving forward with full TrueHD mixes for their films rather than merely copying over the DD5.1 mixes over (yup, I’m still bitter about that for the few releases they did that with). The audio here is impressive, with the various musical pieces for the films filling the room and the sound effects from guns fired or punches thrown coming through nice and meaty. It may be a spoof of a spy series, but it’s a great sounding one. Even if you don’t want to hear Fat Bastard talk about a “turtle on deck” in surround sound. Also included are Spanish and Portuguese tracks for The Spy Who Shagged Me and Spanish on Goldmember. English subtitles are available on all films, as are Spanish and Portuguese on The Spy Who Shagged Me and Spanish on Goldmember.
Extras for these releases are all ported over from their DVD counterparts, so that‘s a bit of a mix and a blessing at the same time. For the first film we have very little, although the Commentary by Mike Myers and Director Jay Roach makes up for any great lapse in extras. Moving on we have Deleted Scenes (6:26), Alternate Endings (4:59) and a Theatrical Trailer (2:21). None of the extras here are in HD, but that’s not unexpected—I doubt there are even any widescreen masters of the extras recorded for this film.
For The Spy who Shagged Me we are again given a Commentary by Actor/Co-Writer Mike Myers, Director Jay Roach and Co-Writer Michael McCullers. Moving on we have Comedy Central’s “The Dr. Evil Story” (20:10), Behind the Scenes (26:18), Deleted Scenes (18:59), Music Videos (14:44), and Trailers (4:53). Once again, none of the extras are in HD.
Although the first two films had no HD extras, all of the content for Goldmember is presented in HD. Don’t get too excited though—it’s really a poor job, as they may be in 1080i, but they look like a very fuzzy upscaled 480p. The Focus Points available during the film are available separately on the disc as other extras, so don’t be too thrilled by that aspect either, although it is a nice inclusion. Paired with the Commentary by director Jay Roach and actor/writer/producer Mike Myers, the focus points make for a nice crash course into the production of the film, although they aren’t picture-in-picture and instead are activated by pressing enter on your remote whenever a gold disc shows up on the screen.
Unlike the previous two films, however, we have a plethora of extras to sort through for this one. There is nothing new here, but there’s still a lot to check out if you haven’t watched the previous DVD release: MI-6: International Men of Mystery (4:21), Fashion vs. Fiction (1:58), Disco Fever (4:18), English, English (2:28), and Jay Roach and Mike Myers: Creative Convergence (6:13) are small makings of pieces that focus on specific areas of the film. Moving on we have Confluence of Characters (15:23), Opening Stunts (2:14), and The Cars of Austin Powers (2:13). Finally we have Anatomy of Three Scenes (10:56) and Visual Effects (Intro – 3:26, Scene – 0:30) which wrap up our behind-the-scenes extras.
Deleted Scenes (18:36) with optional commentary by Jay Roach and Outtake Montage (3:56) finish up our general extras, while an array of Music Videos (“Work It Out” (3:56), “Boys” (3:42), “Daddy Wasn’t There” (3:16), and “Hard Knock Life” (2:10)) Trailers (6:58) wrap up the rest of the extras for Goldmember.
Aside from the video and audio transfers, there is nothing new on these releases, so whether you take the upgrade plunge depends on how much you enjoy the films. They’re solid transfers and moderately priced for a Blu-ray trilogy, so it wouldn’t hurt to upgrade the old releases (especially if you’re still stuck with the snapper cases—blech). Regardless of which way you go with this release, it comes Highly Recommended. Three entertaining films and with commentaries on each there is plenty to dig into on the extras portion, this will definitely make a pleasant Christmas morning surprise for any movie fan.
Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition Loaded With Extra Mojo arrives on Blu-ray on December 2nd.