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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Austin Powers Collection



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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted December 11 2008 - 06:43 PM

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Austin Powers Collection

Release Date: Available now (original release date December 2, 2008)
Studio: New Line Cinema
MSRP: $74.98

The "Austin Powers Collection
As far as technical merits, the "...International Man of Mystery" has the best image with very good color, detail and clarity. "...Goldmember" on the other hand has a noticeably over-processed, granular quality. Audio is generally the same from film to film, exhibiting an increase in surround and LFE activity relative to the increase in the films' production budgets.

Overall Score (not averaged): 4/5
The Feature Films: 3.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5

Continue reading for details on each title in the collection.



Austin Powers International Man of Mystery
Year: 1997
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1h29m

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1May be in standard definition
AudioDolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1Audio standards may vary
SubtitlesEnglishNone


The Feature: 4/5
The nefarious Dr. Evil - destroyer of all things groovy - is back and there's only one man who can stop him - Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery. The swingin' Brit spy from the '60s (played by Mike Myers) got put on ice to be revived upon his arch-nemesis's inevitable return. Thirty years later that day has come, but Austin has a lot of catching up to do. Dental hygiene is more important now, free love got slapped with a price tag, and the rules of the spy game have gone through a major re-write. But Powers is nothing if not a quick study and with the help of the lovely Agent Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), it won't be long before he's got both his spyin' and swingin' mojo firing on all cylinders.

When Mike Myers thrust Austin Powers upon the public over 10 years ago, some wondered why a character like him hadn't come sooner. After all, the '60s had been a go-to decade for mockery for some time already, right alongside the disco fever-filled '70s. But what set "Austin Powers" apart was not so much that it made fun of the '60s but that it also showed a genuine love and nostalgia for the era. Yes, its fashions were often ridiculous and some of its lifestyles ultimately life threatening, but there was a certain innocence and naiveté in its liberalism that got squashed in the subsequent, more cynical decades. Its ultimately that purity of heart - embodied by the foolish but endearing Austin - that comes through and it's ultimately what made audiences embrace the film and its singular sense of humor. Though its sequels suffered from the typical bloat and excess, there's no doubt that Austin Powers remains one of the more unique comedic characters to have been created in the last decade.


Video Quality: 4.5/5
Encoded in VC-1, the film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and free of edge halos and blemishes. Grain structure is nicely preserved with no obvious signs of noise reduction. Fine object detail and sharpness are generally very good, though wide shots can show a slight drop in detail compared to close ups. Black levels and contrast are also very good and colors have great depth and saturation, particularly during the hilarious credit sequence.


Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The Dolby TrueHD track is nicely detailed with some decent wraparound moments, mostly due to some none-too-subtle music cues. Things get more active with directional effects and pans in the finale but they're not always seamless either. LFE is practically non-existent, though there's a decent depth and fullness to the audio overall. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible.

The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 option sounds pretty rough in comparison, making the lossles track preferable as the listening option.


Special Features: 2.5/5
The majority of the extras from the DVD release have been carried over. Video is in standard definition.

Commentary by Mike Myers and Director Jay Roach: Myers and Roach turn in an entertaining track with the requisite blend of production anecdotes and technical details.

Deleted Scenes (6m25s) Five scenes that deserved to be removed.

Alternate Endings (4m58s): Two versions of the ending that deserved to be replaced.

Theatrical Trailer (2m21s): Anamorphic video and stereo audio.


Title Recap

The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

The entertaining first installment of the Austin Powers franchise gets excellent video treatment, a good lossless audio presentation and a respectable set of extras.



Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1h35m

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1May be in standard definition
AudioDolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Spanish 2.0, Portuguese 2.0Audio standards may vary
SubtitlesSpanish and PortugueseSpanish and Portuguese


The Feature: 2/5
Dr. Evil has returned (again) and set his sights on the one thing that has foiled his every attempt at world domination - Austin Powers's mojo. Traveling back in time with his 1/8-sized clone, Mini-Me, Dr. Evil successfully strips Austin of his "je ne sais quoi" and then trains a giant laser on Washington, D.C. But Austin is hot on Evil's temporal trail and, with the help of CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), will do whatever it takes to stop him, mojo or no mojo.

Something did indeed get lost in the perfunctory sequel to "...International Man of Mystery." Replacing much of the cleverness - and dare I say - sophistication of the first film are easily dated pop culture references and gross-out, scatalogical jokes. The film's pacing is also a problem, amounting to little more than a string of dry set pieces. The movie does have its laughs - mostly around the Fat Bastard character (when he's not doing his business) - but after the humorous charm of the first film, "...The Spy Who Shagged Me" can't be seen as anything except a crude disappointment.


Video Quality: 4/5
Encoded in VC-1, the film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and free of edge halos and blemishes. Grain structure looks preserved with no obvious signs of noise reduction, but fine object detail and overall sharpness appear diminished compared to the first film. Contrast also seems a bit flat, though black levels are deep and stable and colors continue to have very good depth and pop.


Audio Quality: 4/5
The Dolby TrueHD track shows increased activity in the array from the start with whizzing bullet and ricochet effects, though in general the mix seems more consistently enveloping. There's also more LFE than the first film and generally there's good fullness and depth in the lower frequencies. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible.

The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 option sounds less detailed and expansive in comparison, but most would have hard time differentiating the two tracks without some aggressive A-B switching.


Special Features: 3.5/5

Commentary by Actor/Co-Writer Mike Myers, Director Jay Roach and Co-Writer Michael McCullers: The trio turn in an engaging track with the requisite blend of jokes, production anecdotes and technical details.

Comedy Central's "The Dr. Evil Story" (20m10s): The "Biography"-style fake documentary details Dr. Evil's rise to...evil.

Behind the Scenes of "Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me" (26m18s): The featurette covers plot, costumes and characters in typical electronic press kit fashion.

Deleted Scenes (18m59s) Twenty-one scenes that mostly deserved to be removed, though the montage of outtakes is pretty entertaining. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

Music Videos (14m44s): Includes Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger," Lenny Kravitz's "American Woman," Mel B's "Word Up" and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me's "Just the Two of Us."

Trailers (4m52s): Two teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer.


Title Recap

The Feature: 2/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

The disappointing second installment of the Austin Powers franchise gets good audio and video treatment and another decent set of extras.



Austin Powers Goldmember
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1h34m

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1May be in standard definition
AudioDolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Spanish 2.0Audio standards may vary
SubtitlesEnglish and Spanish (movie and select bonus material)


The Feature: 3/5
Austin's father, Nigel (Michael Caine), has been kidnapped back to 1975 by Goldmember, a freaky, disco-loving Dutch ally of Dr. Evil's. Traveling back in time, Austin manages to find his father, but not before Goldmember kidnaps him again, taking him back to 2002. With FBI agent Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) in tow, Austin tracks down both Goldmember and Dr. Evil to find them hatching another plot to extort the world of billions of dollars. But this time Dr. Evil may actually be the one with a conscience.

"...Goldmember" continues on the same path as the previous film, with more gross-out sight gags, pop culture references, and knowing winks to the audience. Being a few years more recent than the second movie, it doesn't feel quite as dated, but it's only inevitable. Still, the pacing of this final installment is improved, making it a slightly more enjoyable experience overall.


Video Quality: 3.5/5
Encoded in VC-1, the film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and free of edge halos and blemishes. Of the three films "...Goldmember" looks the most processed with a granular quality that seems like a strange trade for normal film grain. Contrast looks a touch washed out and though colors have decent depth, one can't help but wonder if they could have been better. Overall sharpness varies, with a noticeable drop in detail in many wide shots.


Audio Quality: 4/5
The Dolby TrueHD track has similar qualities as the previous film, with healthy but judicious use of LFE and a generally enveloping soundfield. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible.

The 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 option sounds less detailed and nuanced, but most would have hard time differentiating between the two tracks without some aggressive A-B switching.


Special Features: 4.5/5
The special features package carries over the pieces from the 2001 "Infinifilm" DVD release. It appears that all the video is in 1080p, but the only items that look the part are the music videos, trailers and deleted scenes.

Focus Points: For those who don't mind taking diversions during their viewing, the branching feature makes accessible the special features videos at select points during the film. This is the Infinifilm feature under a different name.

Commentary by Director Jay Roach and Actor/Writer Mike Myers: The pair turn in another engaging track with the requisite blend of jokes, production anecdotes and technical details.

Fact Track: Subtitle feature provides a mix of relevant and random trivia.

"MI-6: International Man of Mystery" (4m20s): A brief history of Britain's secret service agency and the notion of the "gentleman spy."

"English, English" (2m27s): The ins and outs of cockney rhyming slang.

"Disco Fever" (4m18s): A look at the film's '70s-flavored music and fashions.

"Fashion vs. Fiction" (1m57s): Costumes, hair and makeup.

"Jay Roach and Mike Myers: Creative Convergence" (6m13s): The cast and crew talk about working with Myers and Roach and describe the varying challenges of the production.

"Confidence of Characters" (15m22s): The development of the film's major characters including Goldmember, Foxxy Cleopatra, Nigel Powers, and Young Powers and Evil.

"Opening Stunts" (2m13s): A peek behind-the-scenes of the opening stunt sequence.

"The Cars of Austin Powers" (2m13s): Designing and selecting the cars for the film.

"Anatomy of Three Scenes" (10m59s): Behind the scenes of the opening musical number, the roller disco scene and the Fat Bastard sumo battle, with commentary by Roach.

Visual Effects (3m56): Visual Effects Supervisor Dave Johnson gives a quick tour of the film's various special effects.

Deleted Scenes (18m36s) Fifteen scenes that mostly deserved to be removed, with optional commentary by Roach.

Music Videos: Included are Beyoncés "Work It Out" (3m53s), Britney Spears's "Boys" (3m42s), Ming Tea's "Daddy Wasn't There" (3m16s), and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me's "Hard Knock Life" (2m10s).

Trailers (6m58s): Four teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer.


Title Recap

The Feature: 3/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

An improved third film gets a very good audio presentation, a diminished video transfer and significantly increased set of special features.
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted December 12 2008 - 01:14 AM

Thanks for the review, Cameron!

Just so as not to confuse people, you show that the films have a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack in each of the specification grids, but in the text, state that they have DTS-HD Master Audio tracks.

I also would agree that Goldmember's video quality is a bit lacking which is surprising given that it's the most recent film. It's almost as if the first 2 films were given a good treatment by New Line (Warner) but the last film was not as it looks decidedly lesser in terms of video quality. While it certainly looks better than it's SDVD counterpart, I can't help but feel that some DNR is holding it back from looking really spectacular. 2/3 ain't bad and since Goldmember is my favorite out of the 3 films, I had to have it despite some knocks on it's video quality. By any means it doesn't look bad per se, it just could look better.
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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted December 12 2008 - 01:41 AM

Thanks for the catch. Must have been late. Posted Image

It's fixed now.
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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted December 12 2008 - 02:21 AM

Good review.

Unless I can find this boxset at a great price, I'm probably just going to wait for the first two movies to get released individually as I did not like Goldmember.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted December 12 2008 - 02:44 AM

Made a revision to the wording about the overall special features after realizing that not ALL the special features have been carried over. They are the ones people will probably most re-visit though, eliminating much of the gimmicky stuff.
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#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Ethan Riley

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Posted December 15 2008 - 07:59 AM

This quote from the first movie has a whole new meaning:




"Who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman! "
 

 


#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted December 15 2008 - 03:08 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Riley
This quote from the first movie has a whole new meaning: "Who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman! "

Holy shit, man. Way to make Austin Powers relevant again. Posted Image

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   HDGeorge

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Posted January 06 2009 - 05:44 AM

I got this as a Christmas gift, very pleased with it, although Goldmember does indeed look softer to my eyes than the first two.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted January 06 2009 - 04:39 PM

I'm wondering if Goldmember is a victim of early DI processes, as the specs @ IMDb seem to indicate that the film was presented digitally in some venues.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Derek Miner

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Posted January 06 2009 - 05:01 PM

Bah! Another missed opportunity not only to beef up the extras on the first Austin Powers, but finally carry over the items that only appeared on laserdisc. Posted Image
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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted January 06 2009 - 05:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen_J_H
I'm wondering if Goldmember is a victim of early DI processes, as the specs @ IMDb seem to indicate that the film was presented digitally in some venues.

I was wondering the same thing myself. The first film in particular is likely a little early for a complete DI, but by the time Goldmember came along DI was all the rage.

Doug
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#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted January 08 2009 - 03:49 AM

I ended up getting a good deal on the boxset ($35.99 shipped), so I picked these up.

I've watched the first two movies over the last couple of nights and have been very impressed with the video and audio. I'm glad to see film grain left intact. There is a little EE in some scenes, but non consequential really. In addition, it's been several years since watching these and they do still hold up quite well IMO.

I'll probably watch the third movie tonight. Previously, I never cared for it.





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