I remember working as a supervisor in a multiplex in 1997, looking through the latest posters we recieved. After going through the roll, I stopped at one and showed it to the rest of the staff. It was for a little, largely unknown movie called "Austin Powers". We all stood around the poster and went..."What the hell is that?". Of course, the movie, which had little in the way of expectations, went on to become a cult hit and an even bigger success on video, spawning two additional sequels.
Although the original movie had some moments of slow going, it was successful because director Jay Roach and actor/co-writer Mike Meyers brilliantly brought a 60's swinger into 90's culture. Not only did they create a great character in Powers, but offered an equally great villian in Dr. Evil (also played by Meyers). The first sequel had its share of delightful moments too and actually, improved upon the original in some aspects.
Unfortunately, moments of "The Spy Who Shagged Me" also signaled the rise of comedy's dark side: bathroom humor. "Goldmember" sees it taking over, as the majority of the film's jokes revolve around it in some fashion. Yes, some of these jokes still get a great laugh due to inspired construction, but when they fail, they fail very noticably. The film succeeds best where the other two shined: superb parody of both pop culture (a scene with a caged Dr. Evil that parodies "Silence of the Lambs" is incredibly funny) and the spy genre.
The story here is a bit more slight than the prior episodes, too. This time, Austin tries to solve the kidnapping of his father (Michael Caine) by the duo of Dr. Evil and Goldmember (also played by Meyers). But, of course, Dr. Evil has more in store in another attempt to take over the world.
"Goldmember" still has some solid laughs throughout the film, but it's a little more inconsistent than the the prior two films. Goldmember, a dutch club owner from the 70's who eats flakes of his own skin, isn't a particularly funny creation. Meyers only gets a few laughs out of Goldmember thanks to the reactions to him from Dr. Evil. Fat Bastard, a Meyers creation introduced in the sequel, also makes an unnecessary and unpleasant return. The whole Austin arguing with his father thing also isn't particularly entertaining and mole with a giant mole played by Fred Savage is about the least funny joke in the entire series.
Still, the positives return. Meyers has always given the Dr. Evil character the best lines and, in this case, Dr. Evil clearly gets the biggest share of the film's finer gags. Caine does okay with what little he's given to do - the same can be said for Beyonce Knowles, who does decent work with not much of a character as Foxxy Goldmember. Seth Green also does terrific work as Scott Evil - some of his funniest work can be found this time around.
Although not as successful as the prior two films in my opinion, Meyers still launches into most of "Goldmember"'s material with the same sort of energy, which is largely why the film works as well as it does.
VIDEO: New Line presents "Goldmember" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The 95-minute film is presented across a dual-layer disc and looks terrific, with only a few minor flaws scattered about. Sharpness and detail are perfect, as the film retains an impressive, film-like appearance, with no noticable instances of softness.
Only a few minor faults were seen throughout the film. A little bit of shimmer was noticed in the opening scene, while only a minimal amount of edge enhancement was spotted in a scene or two. As per usual for a new New Line title, the print used is spotless, with not a speck or mark to be found. No pixelation or other concerns were spotted.
As with all of the "Powers" films, "Goldmember"'s color palette is vibrant and colorful, with beautifully saturated colors. This presentation does a terrific job with the colors, presenting them in crisp and warm fashion, with no smearing or other faults. Black level is also solid, while flesh tones are accurate. A very nice transfer.
SOUND: "Goldmember" is presented by New Line on this DVD with DTS 6.1-ES and Dolby Digital 5.1-EX soundtracks. A considerably better soundtrack than one might expect from a comedy, "Goldmember" turns on the surrounds surprisingly often to deliver the music and the occasional sound effects. The music really makes the film what it is and thankfully, the sound designers have given it room to breathe in the surrounds instead of lumping it in the front with everything else. The music also has a surprisingly rich and dynamic feel, with depth and warmth to the sound. Overall, some of the most enjoyable use of music in surround I've heard in a film soundtrack in quite a while. Low bass is clearly present during both some of the musical numbers and the action sequence, while every line of dialogue is crisply and clearly heard. While the Dolby Digital soundtrack offers an enjoyable listening experience, the DTS track provided a mild, but surprising amount of difference - the music came to life with greater bass and clarity, while the soundtrack as a whole seemed more seamless and enveloping.
MENUS: Animated - but still fairly ordinary - main menu. Still, as with most New Line titles, the menus are impressively easy to navigate and even helpful (information screens are provided, while featurettes have their running time listed).
EXTRAS: This is another of New Line's "Infinifilm" titles, which offer both supplements regarding the production of the movie itself and the movie's subject matter. "Infinifilm" not only means featurettes, but portions of these featurettes and other material can be jumped to during the film by turning the "Infinifilm" feature on. Although this kind of feature isn't new, New Line has crafted a better version, as rather than clicking on a logo or something else, the "Infinifilm" feature actually notes the supplement that the viewer has the option of jumping to.
Commentary: The DVD offers a commentary from director Jay Roach and actor/writer/producer Mike Meyers. The two are low-key but extremely funny - the pair has recorded tracks for every one of the DVD releases of "Powers" films, but this is probably the best. Meyers drops in countless little jokes about the making of the movie that are even funnier when he offers them in such a funny, throwaway fashion. When not kidding about the production, the two discuss their opinions on crafting comedy and working together again for a third picture.
Infinifilm: Beyond The Movie: This section offers a series of short featurettes that expands upon the "Powers" story. "MI-6: Men of Mystery" talks about the real life British spies; "English, English" goes into the version of English that "Goldmember" occasionally uses; "Disco Fever" talks about the era and how the film's crew tried to recreate the time. Lastly, there's "Fashion Vs. Fiction" (costume design) and a "Fact Track", which offers a lot of interesting tidbits as a "subtitle" feature on the film itself.
Deleted Scenes: About twenty two minutes of deleted/extended scenes can be found in this section. A fair amount of the scenes simply don't work, but there are some funny scenes that seem to have been cut for pacing reasons. The last few minutes of the section provide some pretty amusing outtakes.
The World of Austin Powers: This area offers a few featurettes: "Jay Roach and Mike Meyers: Creative Convergence", "Confluence of Characters" (a few featurettes of its own), "Opening Stunts" and "The Cars of Austin Powers". Although these pieces are pretty enjoyable, "Anatomy of Three Scenes" provides better information. This section offers a look at three scenes: "Dancing at the Gates", "Roller Disco" and "Sumo Battle". We're shown behind-the-scenes clips of the cast and crew at work on these scenes, while director Jay Roach narrates, discussing how the scene was assembled and the roles of the various crew members.
Visual FX: FX supervisor Dave Johnson provides an introductory featurette, going through the various techniques used in "Goldmember", which ranged from primitive to very high-tech. Also in this section is a very short multi-angle clip that shows all of the different elements of an FX shot.
Music Videos: Videos for Britney Spears' "Boys", Beyonce Knowles' "Work it Out", Ming Tea's "Daddy Wasn't There" and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me's "Hard Knock Life".
Trailers: 4 teaser trailers and the film's theatrical trailer.
DVD-ROM: Weblinks (Austinpowers.com, minime.com), desktop backgrounds (or wallpapers, whatever they like to be called), the "Revoice Studio" (where you can add your own voice to characters for a set of scenes from the film) and exclusive content on the Infinifilm website, which will be available by the DVD's release date.
Final Thoughts: I didn't like "Goldmember" quite as much as the other two "Austin Powers" films, but there were still enough funny moments scattered throughout to carry it along. New Line's DVD is another fine release from the studio, meeting expectations in both the presentation and supplemental areas. Recommended.
The Film ** 1/2