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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 11/1/02

Austin Powers in Goldmember
Infinifilm (Widescreen Edition) - 2002 (2002) - New Line

review by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Austin Powers in Goldmember: Infinifilm Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/B+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features
94 mins, PG-13, widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch not detected), audio commentary (with writer/star Mike Myers and director Jay Roach), subtitle "fact track", 5 Beyond-the-Movie featurettes (including MI-6: International Men of Mystery, English, English, Disco Fevers and Fashion vs. Fiction), The World of Austin Powers featuring 5 featurettes on the creation of characters and scenes (Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creating Convergence, Confluence of Characters, Opening Stunts, The Cars of Austin Powers and Anatomy of Three Scenes), Visual Effects featurette, 25 minutes of deleted scenes, 4 music videos: Work it Out by Beyonce Knowles, Boys by Britney Spears, Daddy Wasn't There by Ming Tea and Hard Knock Life by Dr. Evil, 5 theatrical trailers, DVD-ROM features (including weblinks and Austin Powers Revoice Studio), animated film-themed menus with sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX, DD 2.0 & DTS 6.1 ES), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"I took a Viagra, and it got stuck in my throat. I've had a stiff neck for hours."

1997's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery ranks as one of the biggest sleeper hits in video history, and was a personal triumph for Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. Now, two films and nearly five-hundred million dollars later, the Austin Powers films are the biggest franchise since Star Wars. And after a largely successful, and unfunny follow-up, this third film may not be as funny as the original (or as it thinks) but works largely because of its charm.

Once again, the story is largely convoluted and makes fun of its own complexity, reminding us to "never mind that" and just have a good time. Austin (Mike Myers) has just captured Dr. Evil (Myers) once and for all, and has been knighted by the queen. However, Austin is disappointed when his father, Nigel (played by Michael Caine), fails to show up at the ceremony. Apparently, Austin has some daddy issues, as his father never seems to be there for him.

Well, it turns out that Dr. Evil has hired a criminal from 1975 to kidnap Nigel and bring him to the past. His name is Goldmember, a 70's-era, Dutch, nightclub owner/inventor who lost his... um... "member" in an "unfortunate schmelting accident" and has replaced it with gold. Austin travels back to 1975, and runs into Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles), an old flame working as an undercover cop. They team up and follow Goldmember to 2002 Tokyo, where they try to not only save Nigel from his own "schmelting accident" but also stop Dr. Evil from completing "Preparation H"... his grand scheme to melt the polar ice caps.

Goldmember, the film, is a noticeable improvement from the horrible The Spy Who Shagged Me. In this film, we see Austin deal with some dramatic weight again. It's not enough to just have him shag around the 60's, and the character finally gets the chance to do a little more here. Also, this time he is paired with a much more formidable "Powers Girl" in Beyonce Knowles. She gives her Pam Grier spoof attitude and spunk, and is extremely fun to watch. Also good is Michael Caine, who gets a chance to spoof his own 1960's fame as a man trapped in the 60's who is surprisingly hornier than Austin.

The film doesn't live on its charm alone, but unfortunately the truly funny jokes are very infrequent. There is a lot of inspired material here, but it's marred by the constant reference to jokes in the previous film. There's another scene where Austin is peeing but it looks like a fountain, paired with other bodily function jokes (including a Goldmember trait where he eats his own dead skin) and more Fat Bastard material. Consequently, the film gets stuck between the first and the second comedically. It doesn't know whether it wants to be a gross-out comedy or a parody, and while it's a step up from the last film, one wishes that it would dump the bodily fluid jokes all together and simply focus on straightforward parody.

I gave the film a C+ rating, because the fact that most jokes simply fall flat really keeps this from being a laugh-out loud comedy (or a good one). But the charm and effort that went into the film will draw you in. A lot of work went into making the film colorful and fun to watch and listen to, but (and I'm sorry Mike Myers and Michael McCullers) the writing just isn't there, and for a comedy, that's the most important thing.

This DVD release for Goldmember is another matter entirely, as this is one of the better day-and-date releases I've seen on DVD. First of all, the video quality is wonderful. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer (on the widescreen release) is beautiful, thanks in part to the stunning color palate chosen by the filmmakers. The "Austin's Pad" scene (chapter 3) is wonderfully colorful, and the warm golds in "Studio 69" (chapter 4) are luscious. Needless to say, the colors here are presented with great vibrancy (and without bleeding), and the flesh tones are immaculate. Conversely, the blacks are solid and shadow detailing is equal amazing. Detailing is about as good as you can ask for, and while some shots look just a tad soft, it appears to be part of the cinematography and not the transfer. This is one of the most amazing video transfers I've seen in a while. It's actually quite surprising given the amount of extras and four audio options.

Speaking of audio options, not only do you have a Dolby Digital 5.1 ES track (which I would be happy enough with), but you've also got a DTS 6.1 ES option. The first thing I asked myself was, "Why Austin Powers in DTS?" Truth be told, the DTS track greatly expands on the musical sequences (and, of course, the New Line theme in 6.1 audio isn't too bad either). My favorite sequence aurally is the "Studio 69" intro in chapter 4, when Austin flashes back to 1975 - there's a loud boom and suddenly the room is filled with Shining Star and some discrete thunder effects, which slowly transition into Beyonce singing Goldmember. It's a great scene to listen to in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the DTS 6.1 uses the rear channels to completely (discreetly) surround you in the music. The track is always lively and uses the surrounds at all times. And to complement the wonderful use of surrounds is plentiful .1 LFE.

If superior presentation quality isn't enough, New Line has given Goldmember the Infinifilm treatment, and you get two options to view the extras. The first is via the traditional menus. The second is via a menu that appears during the movie and will take you to the individual segments within the featurettes that are specific to the scene that you're watching (and I should note here that all extras are in anamorphic widescreen). For purposes of reviewing, I'll list them as you would find them in the traditional menus.

They're presented in two different groups, the first being the Beyond the Movie section. There isn't much here - it's really just a way to access some of the shorter Infinifilm segments if you don't want to watch the film through Infinifilm. You've got MI-6: International Men of Mystery (which looks at British Spy culture), English, English (which looks at the shorthand Cockney that Austin and Nigel use), Disco Fevers (that looks more closely at the "Studio 69" scene) and Fashion vs. Fiction (which is a look at the costume design - an aspect of the film that I think is worthy of an Oscar nomination).

Finally in this section, there's a "fact track", which is encoded as a subtitle option similar to the Star Trek discs and Jackie Brown. The facts are insightful, work well with the audio commentary (which I'll get to in a moment) and appear only in the Infinifilm mode between the Infinifilm options.

Next up is the All Access Pass section, which starts with the screen-specific audio commentary track, featuring director Jay Roach and Mike Myers. Roach and Myers, who contributed a good track on the original Austin release, are pleasant here and provide a lot of good information. The difference between this track and the other extras, information-wise, is the delivery. Both are somewhat soft spoken, and tease each other, while obviously loving this film. The entire project is clearly a labor of love for these two - if you couldn't possibly know that before, you'll certainly come away with that impression from this track.

Next up are some 25 minutes worth of deleted scenes, a lot of which are scenes that are seemingly cut because they just aren't funny. However the "New Man of the Lair" (which features Scott getting used to being in charge) and the "Musical Number" (which features the cast singing What's it All About? (Austin) - a parody on the Alfie theme) are cute. All of the deleted scenes are presented in their original aspect ratio (2.35:1) and are anamorphic enhanced.

Then you've got The World of Austin Powers, a menu option through which you can view a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes. You have Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creating Convergence (about the partnership of both filmmakers), Confluence of Characters (which spotlights the creation and costumes of Goldmember, Foxxy, Nigel and others), a featurette that spotlights the Opening Stunts, another that looks at The Cars of Austin Powers and finally Anatomy of Three Scenes (which looks that the preparation and filming of the opening dance number, the Goldmember entrance and the battle at the Sumo).

You've also got a breakdown of the Visual Effects, which dissects each effect to look at how they were achieved. And you've got four music videos, including Work it Out by Beyonce Knowles, Boys by Britney Spears, the full-length Daddy Wasn't There by Ming Tea, and the full length Hard Knock Life by Dr. Evil. Finally, there are four teaser trailers and the full-length theatrical trailer.

For those of you with PC DVD-ROM drives, there is some ROM content on this disc, including a "Revoice Studio". Much like the feature on the Shrek DVD, the Revoice Studio allows a user (with their own microphone) to "loop" custom dialogue onto a choice of ten scenes. The feature is pretty easy to use, and it was fun (for me, at least) to loop Foxxy's lines on the "Foxxy Goes Undercover" scene. I just want to take a quick moment here to point out that these ROM features, like most, don't work on Macs. And as a Mac user, I had to "borrow" a PC for a day to try them. I simply don't understand why developers who work on Macs don't make Mac-compatible ROM content (Sigh).

Austin Powers in Goldmember is one of the most fun DVD releases in a long while, jam-packed with extras that will keep you busy for hours. The video and audio quality here is not to be missed. Say what you will about Goldmember, but the DVD experience is nothing short of amazing. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the film, the DVD is most definitely recommended.

Graham Greenlee
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