A strange thing happened this past summer. Not only did I not see "Goldmember" in the theaters, but I wasnít inundated with catchphrases coming out of the mouths of everyone who had in fact seen it. On the contrary, this third installment of what looks to be a franchise landed with a big splash at the box officeÖand then kind of disappeared. A success by all accounts, "Goldmember" didnít quite seem to penetrate the pantheon of pop culture the way the previous films did. I mean, yes everyone knew it was out there and a lot of people went and saw it Ė but were people really talking about this one afterwards? Are we perhaps sick to death of hearing bad impressions of Mike Meyers in his many guises from all our friends and friendly television hosts? I think the answer to that question just might be yes. And I think thatís a great thing.
Austin Powers was never meant to be a phenomenon and instead, success rose out of the ashes of home video when people couldnít stop renting "International Man of Mystery". The fact that "The Spy Who Shagged Me" did such boffo business at the box office doesnít negate the fact that the film works much better the third and fourth time you watch at home on DVD. Perhaps the real genius of Mike Meyers is that he tends to favor quantity as much as quality Ė where there are so many little jokes and nuances to his characters that you simply miss them the first time you see his films. The same holds true for "Goldmember" and I have no doubt that home video will be very kind to this film and that the series will continue and thrive.
If you havenít heard about the opening sequence of "Goldmember," youíre sure as heck not going to hear about it from me. Just hearing that there was a hilarious opening sequence kind of raised my expectations too much, so that I was a tad disappointed when I finally saw it. Itís funny, sure, and itís the seriesí best opening yet, but itís not the best thing about this movie. No, that honor belongs to what has always been the best thing about any of the Austin Powers movies: Dr. Evil. The bald one is again up to no good after he and mini-me (who really has a great part this time) escape from prison and travel back in time to call on the services of the title character. Thereís some stuff involving a laser and the kidnapping of Austinís father (the brilliantly cast Michael Caine), and Scott Evil and Japan and Fat Bastard, and a whole lot of other things that donít exactly make sense as far as a plot is concerned, but it doesnít matter. Where plot has never really mattered in these films, "Goldmember" excels better than the other two films in that it moves at a spirited pace. Just watch the deleted scenes and youíll see how much longer this film could have been Ė and itís doubtful anyone really would have complained. But the pace works well for this film and instead of having Austin look into the camera and ask us to merely accept the plot holes with a wink, director Jay Roach and crew donít give you time to really think about these matters.
In time, I think "Goldmember" will soundly emerge as the best Austin Powers film yet. Aside from all the cameos (which think about it Ė are only really funny the first time you see them), this film continues to make me laugh merely because of the presence of Mike Meyers. Even Goldmember, whoís not a character that had me chuckling at all the first time I watched the film, produces laughter out of me the more I see him (and yes, I admit, Iíve tried the impression). Meyers has very smartly fashioned a series that is evolving far beyond a simple spy spoof. Thereís a world of Austin Powers now, and as long as Dr. Evilís in it I will continue to look forward to each new film, and more so, itís eventual release on DVD.
This film looks great, surprisingly so even. I think Jay Roach gets most improved with this one as the film seems to have a much more visual flair than the others. The transfer to DVD, however, should come as a surprise to no one. You know itís New Line and therefore you know it looks beautiful. The widescreen image (a separate full frame edition is also available) is just absolutely chock full of colors. Flesh tones are true and notice how Dr. Evilís eyes (well, contacts) seem to sparkle. Check out the introduction of Goldmember and see how well the flair of the gold (a color you donít see a whole lot of in most movies) contrasts with the darkness of the club. A superb transfer from an excellent print, and if thereís a flaw here I canít find it.
Even more of a surprise, "Goldmember" sounds great! Are comedies really supposed to get the DTS-ES treatment? Well, this one does and regardless of whether you go that route or the Dolby Digital 5.1 (EX as well), the soundtrack is very active. This film has it all in the sound department: action, musical numbers (rock, rap, and disco), interrupting dialogue, and a score that reflects various locales and time periods. Sound imaging is superb, giving maximum usage to all five of your speakers and thereís some serious low end in numerous scenes. As for a difference between the Dolby and DTS tracks, well thereís not much Ė maybe a little more going on with the rear speakers on the DTS Ė so pick your flavor and see if you canít get your neighbors to laugh without inviting them over.
"International Man of Mystery" was the third DVD I ever bought, way back in December of 1997. One of the main selling points for me was that it was at the time one of the few discs loaded with special features. A great thing about that disc and the subsequent "Spy Who Shagged Me" disc was that all the features were tailored in the style of the movie, even at the expense of being nothing more than silly. While nonetheless loaded with material, this Infinifilm version of "Goldmember" loses a lot of that silliness. Where New Lineís Platinum Edition label meant simply that the disc was going to be full of supplements, the Infinifilm moniker means that the disc is going to fit a specific and rather sterile format. Letís face it, is there anything more generic than the phrases "Beyond the Movie" or "All-Access Pass"? Thereís nothing fun about Infinifilm! And an Austin Powers disc should be fun!! So, presentation wise this disc is the weakest of the three in my opinion.
Okay, enough ranting. Having said all that, there is a wealth of good material on this disc and although New Line would like us to watch the Infinifilm version of the film Ė where you can access the special features as they apply (sort of) to the scene in the film and then go back to the movie and then watch another feature and then go back to the movie and thenÖ Ė fortunately, you donít have to. You can watch them all by themselves whenever you please by choosing either the Beyond the Movie menu or the All-Access Pass menu. In Beyond the Movie youíll find four featurettes, ranging from about two to four and a half minutes each. These offer little tidbits of behind the scenes footage and interview with various cast members and crew. My favorite was titled "English, English" where Meyers and Caine discuss the particularities of this exaggerated cockney dialect. Also in this Beyond the Movie section is access to the Fact Track, which is a pretty interesting and amusing subtitle track that offers further information on the movie.
In the All-Access Pass section youíll find more of the meat to this disc. First, of course, is a feature length commentary with Mike Meyers and Jay Roach. If youíve listened to any of the other commentaries of this series, then you know to expect a somewhat subdued Meyers and the soothing tones of Roachís voice. Also like the others, there are more than a few stories and jokes that are worth going through the dry spots to hear. Up next, and probably the things I have watched most on this disc, are the deleted scenes (including an outtake compilation). Fifteen total, all are accessible by themselves or with the handy "play all" feature, all are presented in anamorphic widescreen (and look great!), and each has an optional commentary. I hesitate to spoil any of these since I have enjoyed them so much, but Iíll just say thereís a great, sad musical number here that I am amazed did not make it into the final film! Iíve listened to the commentary explaining their reasons, but I ainít buying it Roach. Next up are even more vignettes (how they are categorically different from the Beyond the Movie label, I donít know), which delve further into the characters and production of the film. Itís really interesting watching these to see how Meyers essentially refuses to come out of character when heís on set and in make-up. When heís dressed as Fat Bastard, you get the impression that Mike Meyers no longer exists, whether the cameras are rolling or not. Of extra note of these vignettes are the ones on the design of the cars of Goldmember and interviews with the surprisingly good Beyonce Knowles, and "the Man" Michael Caine. Also on board are music videos by Britney Spears, Knowles, and Dr. Evil and Mini-Meís take on "Hard Knock Life." Finally, youíve got five trailers, including that terrifically odd teaser of the title sequence of "International Man of Mystery" only with an all little person cast.
Borrowing from another Mike Meyers DVD (Shrek), New Line has rounded out this disc with some nice DVD-ROM content, including the Austin Powers Revoice Studio. Just the layout of this thing is funny (ten scenes and multiple characters to choose from!), and as with that other DVD this proves to be a great, fun, and most importantly innovative feature that is worthy of repeat visits. Also for your computer are links to various Austin Powersí related websites, desktop wallpapers, and screensavers.
If you are a fan of Austin Powers, Mike Meyers, or comedy in general, youíll want to add "Goldmember" to your collection. While the presentation and some of the features arenít quite up to snuff in comparison with the other discs of the series, the video and audio are a marked improvement. And at the end of it all, what really matters is having the opportunity to watch Meyersí nuanced performances over and over, and laughing over and over. A really fun movie and a disc worth owning.