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Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition Loaded With Extra Mojo (Blu-ray)
Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition Loaded With Extra Mojo (Blu-ray)
|New Line // Unrated // December 2, 2008 // Region A|
List Price: $74.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan |
posted December 10, 2008 |
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Were you just as disappointed as I was when Mike Myers attempted to get back into the live action game earlier in the year? Well, there's good news for those of us that want to wash that awful taste from our mouths before the close of the year. The Austin Powers Collection - Shagadelic Edition has hit retail shelves, and features all three of the hippie spy-spoof flicks in a tight little package for the very first time. Watching the trilogy brings back a lot of memories, all of which made me remember why I loved the silly characters Myers brought to life, while showing me exactly what his latest offering, The Love Guru, had been missing. The Austin Powers Collection is more than just a trilogy of comedies, they're some of the finest comical efforts in recent decades, but is the high def treatment worth dumping the standard DVD's you already own?
Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery
It was a time when women generally didn't care about the looks of the random partners they chose, and swingin' in psychedelic clubs was a way of life. It was more than just partying all the time though, it was about rebelling against 'the establishment' in an effort to conserve freedom, peace, and love in any way they could get it. It's sort of a mind bender that the hippie icon of the time, Austin 'Danger' Powers, was actually working for the establishment as a secret agent. Even so, every woman wanted to be with him, and every man wanted to be him. He wasn't the prettiest looking thing, but back then, bad teeth and an unshapely figure didn't matter!
With every hero comes a nemesis, and Austin has stopped at nothing to try and bring Dr. Evil to justice. Dr. Evil has only one thing on his mind, and that's to rule the world. He doesn't take political sides, he won't be reasoned with, and he loves his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, more than he could a real person. He's a mastermind with big plans such as killing his son (Seth Green), holding the world ransom for one hundred BEELION dollars, and he likes to watch his victims die a slow death from sharks with frickin' lazer beams on their heads. I know, you're quivering just from the sound of his evil and demented ways!
Austin and his partner, Mrs. Kensington, find Dr. Evil hiding out in a club. Before they can apprehend the twisted genius, Evil freezes himself in a cryogenic chamber and launches into space in a ship that's been disguised as a larger than life Big Boy statue. Dr. Evil intends to return when Austin is old and useless to the world, so that he can finally carry on with his plans without interruption.
Powers doesn't take this sitting down... literally. Standing, he has himself frozen as well, only to be thawed for when Dr. Evil becomes a threat again. Dr. Evil indeed stirs up trouble once again, with a plot to drill a nuclear weapon to the core of the planet, making every volcano erupt simultaneously, effectively bringing the world back to the stone-age.
Austin is reanimated to take Dr. Evil down once and for all, but they're on a more even playing field than either can imagine, as they're both going to have a lot to learn with a pretty wild culture shock. Dr. Evil's plans are worthless since they already seemed to have happened during his thirty year vacation, and Austin finds himself seriously outdated in almost every way. People aren't sleeping around with random strangers anymore, he's working alongside the daughter of his old partner (the extremely smokin' Elizabeth Hurley), and his unsexy ways are no longer, well... sexy.
This movie set out to create a masterful blend of silly comedy, a legitimate spy flick, and even a love story. All of these points are spot on and never seem to drag. Although the comedy is a bit silly, it never seems self indulgent. The jokes never feel like they're in the film 'just because'. The love story between Austin and Ms. Kensington isn't played out longer than it needs to be, and never feels as if it's under developed, either. The acting from everyone involved is smashing, especially from Mike Myers himself. He's brought to life two characters that are unforgettable in comical cinema, and when you watch him do his thing as either character, you feel like it couldn't have been done by just anyone.
If you've never bothered to see this film, you have no idea what you're missing out on. The pacing of the film is quick, and might be the easiest 90 minutes you could sit through. The film is stylish, and often very clever. Mike Myers may not have impressed much with The Love Guru, or maybe you weren't even partial to his Wayne's World outings. No matter your excuse for missing out on this movie, there's certainly something here for everyone, and it's quite possibly the finest piece of work Myers has ever done, or will ever do.
This film looks surprisingly good for its age. I wasn't sure what to expect for the Blu-ray release. Was the transfer going to receive any sort of attention, or was it going to be a piece of crap that was produced just for the sake of a high def release? I'm happy to say that the transfer definitely applies to the former.
The first thing to discuss is the aspect ratio. There have been numerous reports online that this film is presented in an OAR of 2.35:1, but if I'm to believe the slimcase package for the first film, it's 2.40:1. The image definitely looks like it could be 2.35:1, but I'm more inclined to believe the packaging, as the difference would be too minimal for me to judge accurately.
The print itself is very clean, only showing minor dirt once in a great while. The colors are magnificently bold, saturated enough to 'wow', but never enough to make the film look unnatural in any way, and skin tones are spot on. The black levels are deep and inky, and the contrast is very impressive as it always provides a bright image without washing out black detail. The image is sharp, although once in a blue moon you can detect slight touching of edge enhancement, but it's never to the point where it's distractingly in your face.
With such a clean print, vivid colors, great contrast and black levels, as well as a transfer that keeps its film grain intact without creating any compression artifacts, this Blu-ray packs an image that provides some very nice depth and dimensionality. Bravo to New Line for making this 1080p VC-1 codec, even considering the age of the source, look as good as it does!
See the audio section for Goldmember, as my sound score relates to all three films.
There's not a ton of special features for the first film, so if you're wondering if there's any reason of significance to upgrade from your old DVD in the extras department, the answer here is going to be 'no'.
Commentary by Mike Myers and Director Jay Roach - This isn't a bad listen, but it's certainly not the most entertaining commentary I've heard. There's plenty of information about every aspect of making the movie, from pre-production to shooting on the set. Unfortunately, there are moments when the conversation can get a little dry. It's sort of a rollercoaster ride, really. The conversation is bright and insightful, and then it's trudging through the mud, then it goes back to being really interesting and then, pluh. The main saving grace is a delightful Mike Myers, who's down to earth, yet still seems to have a fun and entertaining aura about him.
Deleted Scenes, Including 2 Alternate Endings - I called this before I even watched the scenes that have been provided, but they don't add anything to the film at all. The final cut of the film is so flawless in its execution of pace, that I couldn't possibly imagine any of these scenes in the final cut. The alternate endings that are provided are rather tame, to boot.
Also included is the theatrical trailer.
Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me
What can we say about The Spy Who Shagged Me without making it sound like it's an awful film? Before you get all up in arms over what I'm asking here, just hear me out for a moment. This film is like the 'Home Alone 2' of the franchise. It's essentially the same film with a lot of the same gags. Throw in a new character here and there, make the old jokes even bigger and badder than ever, and you've got yourself a sequel! Now, utilizing the 'it's all the same, but just more of it' formula is usually the classic recipe for disaster. For some reason though, this film is just as fun and funny as the original, if not better!
Despite cryogenically freezing himself to escape the constant pursuit from Austin Powers, Dr. Evil has been foiled again. A lot has happened since the first film though. Dr. Evil, still cursing the day his son was born, has created a miniature clone of himself that he simply calls Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). He has a new operations base in a volcano, and his financial troubles are on track to be resolved by his latest evil corporation, Starbucks. Despite the fact that plans are moving ahead to wipe all major cities off the globe with a frickin' laser beam on the moon, there's still that one nagging thought that bothers him on a daily basis - Austin Powers.
How can he stop him? A light bulb goes off, and Dr. Evil realizes that if he wants to prevent Austin from working his mojo straight to another victory, he needs to steal Austin's mojo at a time of extreme vulnerability, which was right after Austin had himself froze. Dr. Evil travels back to 1969, and hires an angry, out of weight Scottish guard, Fat Bastard, to take what Austin values most.
In present time, Austin is unable to work his 'mojo' on a Russian spy that's posing as a model. When Austin is told that Dr. Evil has built a time machine to steal that which gives him fun and spunk, he wastes no time tracking his evil nemesis to 1969 to get it back. Along the way he hooks up with fellow spy Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), who ends up being the new love interest for our swingin' hero, and that brings us through another hour and a half of silly, yet clever fun, trying to bring Dr. Evil down once and for all... again.
As I said, everything about this film in the formulaic sense says it should have been a flop, a piece of garbage even. Once again however, Mike Myers and company have successfully created a follow-up that more than exceeded expectations.
What helped make this film feel a bit different than the first despite its affinity for enlarging old jokes, is the fact that we get to see Austin in the environment he's most comfortable in. He's back in the swingin' 60's baby, yeah! Instead of filling in the script with jokes that were about being out of place from culture shock, we get jokes that are based in a period that's foreign to the present day, but completely natural for him.
Seth Green gets quite a bit more screen time as Dr. Evil's son, Scott, and this includes a scene where Dr. Evil and Scott try to sort their differences out on The Jerry Springer Show. To put the icing on the cake, we get to see younger versions of the characters we knew in the first film, such as Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), Number 2 (Robert Wagner/Rob Lowe), and there's even a revelation or two that's brought to the fold.
Once again, the mashing of the spy spoof genre with love and comedic gold is clever, and each piece of the equation seems very well balanced. As with the first film, the pacing has been crafted with precision editing, so it never seems to drag. It's not very often you can say the second film in a franchise is just as good as the first, if not better, but I have no qualms saying that about this film.
This film looks even better than the first. The skin tones are still spot on, but the colors seem to 'pop' even more than they did in the first film. Because the story takes us back to 1969, which we happen to associate in the Powers universe with lots of vivid and well saturated primary colors, you can't help but look around the entire screen at times, keeping your focus off of the main characters.
Contrast remains excellent without washing out some very excellent black levels, and the detail is very high.
The grain is still intact, although this film looks slightly cleaner than the first, but I contribute that to the fact that this is a newer film. Once again there are no compression artifacts to complain about, and the print itself seems to be even cleaner than in the first film.
Despite the fact the first film had some good dimensionality going for it; the second installment of the series seems to be even more impressive in this department. Once again, New Line has surprised me with its 2.40:1 VC-1 treatment for The Austin Powers Collection - Shagadelic Edition.
See the audio section for Goldmember, as my sound score relates to all three films.
The special features are a little better than they were for Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery, but they're still not exactly something to write home about. Yet again, if you're looking for a significant upgrade in features from the standard def release, you're out of luck.
Commentary by Mike Myers, Director Jay Roach and Co-Writer Michael McCullers - You would think with an extra person tackling the commentary with Mike and Jay, the uninteresting gaps would go the way of the dodo. Unfortunately this isn't the case. The commentary itself is very informational, yes, but there's something about the vocal tripod that's a bit off in presentation. I often found myself wishing it was over.
Nearly 20 Minutes of Groovy Deleted Scenes - Some of the deleted scenes actually provide more of a chuckle than the ones that were available for the first movie. I'm actually glad I watched the deleted scenes, because they are fun enough for a stand -alone viewing. That being said, I can still see why they didn't make the final cut of the film, because once again, the editing job that was done for the final cut was pretty darn near perfect.
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette Gallery - At twenty six minutes, this featurette, as advertised, is all about showing us what it was like behind the scenes to create the film. It's fairly entertaining for a behind the scenes featurette, and although it can be informational, there seems to be a lot of filler material here as well.
Comedy Central Canned Ham the Dr. Evil Story - This was built for a half hour time slot on Comedy Central, and a lot of care went into providing a back story for Dr. Evil. It's been filmed to look like a documentary, but of course all the interviews are with people that are in character. I love features that are supposedly 'behind the scenes' but treat the characters as if they were real. It's not just the novelty that's fun here though, it's just a genuinely funny feature overall. If you're only going to see one thing on the extras list for this film, make this the feature you watch!
Also included are music videos for Madonna's Beautiful Stranger, Lenny Kravitz's American Woman, Mel B's Word Up, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me's Just the Two of Us, as well as the theatrical trailer.
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me was the film that truly blew the franchise into the realm of superstardom, and deservingly so. It was a very nice follow-up to a fantastic film, but I guess we can't expect that to go on forever, right? Austin Powers in Goldmember seemed to be the point, for me at least anyway, where Mike Myers began to 'lose it' when it came to his live action work.
Austin finally gets Dr. Evil into custody for all of his wrong doings, but his sense of pride is hurt when his father, Nigel Powers (Michael Caine), misses his well deserved knighting ceremony. Austin finds out that his father was kidnapped from his yacht however, and the only clue left behind were some of the crews 'members' - *coughs* - were painted with gold. Austin heads to Dr. Evil for answers, and finds out the sinister roller-disco king Goldmember is keeping Nigel hostage back in 1975.
Austin goes back to save his father from the clutches of Goldmember in Club 69, and meets up with an old girlfriend, Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce), and together they chase the gold schlong painting maniac back to 2002. Dr. Evil has plans to pull a golden meteor to the earth with a tractor beam from his new submarine lair, and once again, it's up to Austin and his sexy sidekick to make things right again.
I didn't go into great detail about this film, because it's painful. There's so much that was abused while making this film. First of all, the time switches were already played out in the first two films. To start the film out in 2002, bring it back to 1975, and back to 2002 again, was just showing an incredible lack of imagination. Is there any reason why Goldmember had to come from the past? Was it merely for the sake of having him own a roller disco was a clear parody of Studio 54 in name, or to bring another one of Austin's love interests back from the hippie era? Do we really have to have more time machine antics than the Back to the Future franchise?
Another issue I had with this film was the cameos. Yes, there were cameos in the first two films, but they were integrated as characters that were passing through. In Goldmember, the cameos are gratuitous, and don't really make any sense. They're mostly there for a 'wow' factor.
A lot of the comedy in this film is gratuitous as well. No longer are the jokes cleverly integrated. Instead, they're more self serving for Myers, often trading in quality for the fun he would have playing a character like Goldmember, which in my opinion, was just awful.
A new dynamic was introduced between the Scott, Dr. Evil, and Mini-Me triangle, as Scott was losing his hair and actually accepting his fate as an evil son. This had some great potential, but ended up being another casualty for a script that was more about squeezing in celeb nods and throw-away content than anything else.
The first two films were a breeze to sit through, but the awful script, the 'going out of our way to throw celebs in your face', and so much more, contributed to slowing the pace down for this film quite a bit. That's pretty sad considering this film is one minute shorter than the previous one.
I saw the first two Austin Powers films in theaters, but happened to miss this one. I got it as a blind buy on DVD back in the day, and needless to say, I wasn't happy with what I saw. Years later, I was excited to see Myers return to live action in The Love Guru, as I thought the time away from the big screen would have done him well. Unfortunately, it hasn't. It seems that Mike's ability to name drop and put together a film that's unevenly paced due to bad script and editing decisions has only gotten worse over time. If you haven't seen this film, skip it.
The 2.40:1 VC-1 encode looks pretty good, but it leaves some questions in the air.
As with the first two films, the color and contrast presentation deserves a round of applause. The color saturation is slightly more dominant than in the second film, although it's not always as obvious or appealing with the gold tones as opposed to the primary colors that were featured before. Black levels are mixed with excellent contrast, and do the best job yet at providing a look that's three dimensional.
Sharpness is superb, and there are no compression or print defects to mention either. However, there's something that's a bit different for this film than the others. Grain was very very subtle in the first two features, look like natural film, yet it's even less prominent on this release. Skin textures are very clean looking, but they're not nearly as detailed as they were in the prior films. This is where I find a slight predicament in judging the picture quality.
As I said before, I missed this film in theaters. I'm not sure if this was an intentional look for the film, or if this was additional processing that was made strictly for the Blu-ray release. For them to apply DNR to the third and final film (at this time) in the franchise, but not the first two, is even more confusing. However, DNR is what all signs point to here. I know it's a newer film, but when you see the wax-like facial features, you'll see what I mean. This is very, very disappointing.
Each film features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, and they all sound pretty good.
I only say pretty good because of the mix, not really the transfer itself, which does sound quite excellent. The mix leaves a lot to be desired in each film. Because we're dealing with comedies here, a lot of what we hear is driven mainly through the front speakers. The rears provide some very nice background noise, although I would never say the experience from each film was enveloping by any means. Explosions seemed to give some great surround, as well as the music, but overall, you're going to find a pretty front heavy presentation.
The dialogue being the most important aspect of each film is nothing short of excellent. There are plenty of lows, as well as highs, in order to test the merits of the soundtrack to each film, and there's nothing that stood out as being bad. You won't find yourself having to adjust the volume to hear the characters talking to one another one minute, and having to drop the decibal level via remote the next.
Don't expect a 'not guts, no glory' experience for either film, just expect a faithful one. New Line did a very nice job at the audio transfers for all three films.
Also available: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish 2.0, and Portuguese 2.0. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Fact Track - It's a nifty feature, but it's not quite as immersive as the numerous on-screen features that you can watch along with a film with, oh, let's say Universal's U-Control feature. Icons pop on the screen, and clicking on them will play certain featurette clips from the rest of the extras that are available on this disc. There's also a ho-hum text driven fact track that appears on screen throughout the film.
Commentary by Mike Myers and Director Jay Roach - It's still not a great listen, but it's certainly the best of the bunch. Instead of hemming and hawing over the production aspect of the movie alone, there's history about the franchise that they can interject with what they know along the way. This provides for a far great, and more in depth experience than we've had thus far.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes - I highly enjoyed the deleted scenes from the second film, but these deleted scenes are unfortunately about as droll as they were for the first film. The film itself was a fairly jumbled mess, and it honestly didn't even really feel like an Austin Powers film to me. I found numerous aspects of the film itself to be worthy of the cutting room floor, but these scenes didn't really do anything for me either.
Documentary Gallery - MI-6: International Men of Mystery, Fashion vs Fiction, Disco Fever, English, English - These featurettes cover the behind the scenes aspect of pulling everything together to make the film, the clothing, the soundtrack, the choreography, and more. There seems to be a little more focus on trying to be entertaining than providing a good amount of in depth information though, so you may not want to waste your time here.
The World of Austin Powers Featurette Gallery - Jay Roach and Mike Myers: Creative Convergence, Confluence of Characters, Opening Stunts, The Cars of Austin Powers in Goldmember, Anatomy of Three Scenes, Visual F/X - It's a shame the worst film of the bunch is the one that gets the best behind the scenes treatment. There are six featurettes that dive into the real aspects of making a film, and they're actually quite good. We finally get to see how excited everyone is to be working on set, from all the different tasks that end up bringing the final product to the big screen.
Also included are music videos for Beyonce's Work It Out, Britney Spears' Boys, Ming Tea's Daddy Wasn't There, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me's Hard Knock Life, as well as the theatrical trailer.
So Austin Powers in Goldmember gets the treatment the other films deserved, without being as deserving itself. Ah well, what can you do? Since this was a newer film, these features were probably crafted specifically for its DVD release, where the other films were originally getting their fanfare from VHS.
Despite the mostly disappointing extras, as well as the disappointing transfer for the third film in the series, this set still packs enough mojo to warrant a purchase. The first two films alone are worth the price this set is going to cost, and they've actually been treated with great care in the video department. However, if you're a stickler for wanting every aspect of every release to be perfect, or if you could never justify buying three films in a pack when you only want two, then perhaps you might want to wait and see if New Line releases them individually. I wouldn't hold my breath however, because this can be had for a price that's most shagadelic if you know where to look! This release comes recommended without even thinking twice, because in my opinion, two of these films show Mike Myers, as well as comedy in general, at their peak.
Please note, the movie rating is a little lower because of my extreme disliking for the third entry in the series. The video has also been dropped a little due to the DNR that was seemingly applied for the third film. The sound rating, although not stellar, is not representative of the transfer which sounds fine, but rather the front heavy mix for each film.