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Most of us have already been blessed with the pleasure of watching great trilogies such as Back To The Future, Indiana Jones and Star Wars (x2 very soon). But there’s not really a comedic equivalent to enjoy, unless you count the first three Police Academy or Meatballs movies as cinematic genius. Then along came Goldmember, the third film in the Austin Powers franchise, following The International Man Of Mystery and the highly successful The Spy Who Shagged Me. It was obvious there was more of this groovy cash-cow to milk, especially after the second film piqued a hell of a lot more interest than the first. It was also obvious that Myers and co were desperate to avoid their Goldmember becoming a little limp.

Movie
You’re probably all familiar with Austin Powers and his travels. If not, think James Bond meets 60’s porn star, with a little chest hair, rather large glasses and a great set of teeth thrown in for good measure. The previous two films saw Powers battle with world-domination freak Dr.Evil (played by Myers again, in the style of a few Eddie Murphy comedy vehicles), and in the third he is well and truly back again.

Goldmember, Austin Powers In

After a brilliantly creative opening sequence featuring some of the best spoofs of recent times as well as a handful of star cameos, we learn that Dr.Evil is again making crazy attempts to conquer the world. Mini-me, his trusty sidekick is well and truly back, though he never reaches the same heights (pardon the pun) as the previous film. When Austin manages to foil Dr.Evil’s plans early into proceedings you’d be forgiven for thinking the story is about to go absolutely nowhere. And in true Austin Powers style it doesn’t, though there’s still some semblance of a plot so that all those familiar situations from the last two films can be rehashed.

Austin finds out his father (Michael Caine hamming it up) has been kidnapped and transported back to 1975. Of course Austin decides to follow him and revels in all the disco and glamour of the ‘70s. There he meets the latest eye-candy to enter the franchise, this time going by the name of Foxxy Cleopatra (Destiny’s Child’s Beyonce Knowles). Together they try to track down Dr.Evil and another Myers villain, a strange Dutch creation who goes by the name of Goldmember, named after a mysterious smelting accident. Sound crazy? It is, the most of which isn’t nearly as funny as it should be.

There are some great visual gags dotted around and the introduction of “the mole” is hysterically funny (thanks to a stunt-cast former child star and Myers’ ingenuity), but it’s hard not to think Myers’ has just compiled everything he hasn’t used in one of the previous films and thrown it in this one, including some gags that have been aired on various mediums elsewhere. Some of the jokes that were meant to be raucous punchlines end up flat by virtue of the fact they don’t come across as funny the second time around, and putting them on the big screen as opposed to a chain email or skit comedy program doesn’t change things.

Dr.Evil is again by far the funniest character in the film and has a gem of a line in almost every scene. Goldmember is simply not nearly as funny as he should be, especially with the expectation of being the title character and the newest addition to Myers’ repertoire. Powers himself is still quite amusing but his role in this film is more to facilitate the re-workings of previous gags rather than create any new ones. Michael Caine, as Powers’ dad, seems to have a ball just letting himself go, and on the whole is quite effective and thankfully funny. But his character suffers from using too many familiar jokes heard elsewhere. Knowles’ Foxxy Cleopatra is not a patch on Liz Hurley and even Heather Graham gives her a run for her money, but it is a decent enough big screen debut to suggest she may get a little more work in the future. Those who enjoyed Fat Bastard in the second film might be disappointed in his return, which is merely there to gross out the audience rather than provide pure comedy.

Goldmember, Austin Powers In

There’s no doubting this film is pure fun and is a welcome change from some of the more serious works of recent times that have been given all the attention. But when stacked up against the previous two films (as it was always going to be) you can’t help but think the franchise has lost a little bit of its “mojo”. There are still plenty of laughs to be had, and die-hard fans will get a little bit more out of it than most, so don’t hesitate if you’re after a laugh because Myers’ creations are always a cut above most of the recent comedies to hit the screens. It might not be the next classic trilogy and Myers might not be the next Harrison Ford or Michael J Fox, but there’s still just enough “grrrr” in this swinger to suffice.

Video
Roadshow have again followed up with a brilliant looking transfer, bringing the best of the Region 1 Infinifilm transfer and adding its own impressive PAL ingredient. Presented in anamorphic 2.35:1, the visuals that looked so good on the cinema screen are transferred wonderfully to the DVD. Sharpness is top notch, the print is as clean as a whistle and there are no signs of any aliasing despite some tricky sets and detailed costumes. But it’s the colours that really stand out in this release, which comes as no surprise considering the lavish design elements employed in the film. Powers’ scenes are exceptionally vibrant, while Dr.Evil and his buddies look awesome in amongst the solid greys and blacks. This is a reference quality transfer that will look awesome on even the most simple of setups.

Audio
If you haven’t splashed out on a decent sound setup then now is the time. The DVD contains not only a great sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 track but also the benefit of a DTS ES discrete 6.1 mix. While this humble reviewer doesn’t have the benefit of 6.1 compatibility (remember, we don’t get paid by the review!) the word is it’s pretty impressive. The now “standard” DTS mix is superior to the Dolby Digital soundtrack with a little more bass and clarity, plus the added punch you get from the subwoofer and surrounds as a result.

Surround use is very good, making the most of those crazy scenarios Myers’ characters find themselves in. The front stage is spread exceptionally well and the rears get a really big workout, meaning you’ll find yourself feeling like you’re back in the 70’s again (or for me, the first time).

Goldmember, Austin Powers In

The music, as with the previous Austin films, is very creative and, at times, quite funny. It’s a good thing that we get to hear these tunes belted out in full by every speaker you’ve got. Everything from the Britney spears number to the tweets of the main theme is pumped through the surrounds and fronts brilliantly, meaning you’ll want the house to yourself before you go cranking up the volume. In all, a great mix that goes well with the awesome transfer.

Extras
Not to be outdone, the extras section gives us a range of supplementary material to look at. While a couple of the Infinifilm Region 1 pieces are chopped out all the important stuff still makes the grade, so unless you’re really into fact tracks there’s really not much difference between releases.

First up is the Beyond The Movie section, which contains four featurettes on the production of the movie. The first, MI6 – International Men Of Mystery, looks at the gentleman spies of England with interviews with the relevant people cut together with footage from the film. Then there’s a piece called English, English, where Myers and Caine talk about how Austin and his dad have a special language based on cockney rhyming slang. The third featurette is called Disco Fever and deals with the introduction of disco into the film, with behind the scenes footage of the key dance sequences as well as interviews with the music supervisor and music executive (whatever he does). And lastly there’s Fashion vs. Fiction, which looks at the large range of costumes and periods covered in the film. We see some early drawings and hear from all the key costume designers, who really did shine in their efforts to make the clothes stand out.

Moving on to the All Access Pass section of the film, we have a commentary track with Director Jay Roach and Mike Myers. Myers is a funny bloke in real life as well, which comes as no surprise at all, and Roach seems to have a great rapport with him. Interesting points to come out of the track are the origins of the line ‘you have the right to remain sexy’, how the idea for the nuclear Dr.Evil submarine came about and the workings of the elaborate sumo wrestling scene. Good stuff.

Next up is a large collection of deleted scenes, most of which run for under a minute. You can choose to play them with or without commentary from director Jay Roach and there’s a nifty little play all option as well. In all they’re quite good to look at, with the outtakes reel probably the pick of the bunch.

Goldmember, Austin Powers In

A section called The World Of Austin Powers contains even more featurettes about the production, this time dealing with the creative convergence between the ideas of Jay Roach and Mike Myers, detail on each of the main characters (including interviews and behind the scenes footage), an interesting but brief section on the stunts, a great little piece for car fanatics about the vehicles they used for the film and a detailed look at the making of three scenes from the film. Phew!

There is also a section on visual effects, with an introduction from the visual effects supervisor and a look at the different visual effects layers used for a particular shot. The music videos section contains four clips, one each from Beyonce Knowles, Britney Spears, Ming Tea and the dynamic duo of Dr.Evil and Mini-Me. For once these music videos are well worth a look, particularly, ahem, Britney’s clip. Rounding out the disc are four teaser trailers as well as the theatrical trailer, presented in glorious 2.35:1.

In all this is a great extras package for fans of the film. There’s nothing remarkable about it and some of the pieces are quite short but on the whole there’s some real value in here that adds some serious weight to an already impressive disc.

Overall
The film isn’t without it’s flaws but you can never go past the fact that it’s just plain fun. Most of the old jokes aren’t nearly as funny the second (or third) time around and some of the new jokes fall flatter than a pancake, but there’s still some really funny stuff in there amongst it all. If only Myers hadn’t taken tired gags from various other sources to pad things out a little then it would’ve been as original (as original as a spoof can be) as his previous two Austin movies. The DVD itself is absolutely brilliant, with the video being reference quality, the soundtrack top notch and the extras package very thorough. Fans must have this disc, non-Austin devotees might still find some value inside.


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