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HTF REVIEW: Austin Powers "Goldmember" (with screenshots)


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#1 of 58 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 31 2002 - 11:29 AM

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GOLDMEMBER






Studio: New Line Cinema
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English



He's still evil... He's still deadly...
and he's still surrounded by frickin' idiots!



It's my absolute belief that Mike Myers is the
most creative individual within the movie
industry, continuing to deliver intelligent and
innovative comedy. His passion and dedication
for producing quality work has placed him amongst the
most legendary comic filmmakers of our time. His
greatest creation is Austin Powers, a simple
spoof on the James Bond films with its own unique
set of characters and fans that has managed to
develop its own identity outside of the Bond realm.

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Count me in as one of the many that were huge
fans of both the first and second Austin Powers
films. The idea of yet another shagadelic romp with
Myers' swinging refugee from the '60s espionage set
seemed like a great idea, and I was anxiously awaiting
the release of Goldmember, the third and final
installment of the Austin Powers series. Unfortunately,
high hopes were met with a film that lacked Austin's
usual Mojo.

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Nobody can deny that the opening sequence of
Goldmember is one of the funniest and
irreverent of the movie season. It's a 'Hollywood
version' of Austin Powers complete with an A-List
of cameos that shows how popular this series has
become and how eager these stars are to be seen
under the same glitter ball as Austin Powers.
However, soon afterwards, the film starts to head
downhill, resembling a disjointed series of sketches
placed end to end in order to fill 90 minutes of
film. Don't get me wrong -- there are still some
very funny moments here, but the series definitely
feels worn out when it begins to constantly repeat
its own lame gags, sluggishly regurgitating some of
the best bits from the previous two films.

And though credit must be given to Meyer's talent
of playing four of the film's major characters, you
can't help to be disappointed in his title character,
Johan "Goldmember" van der Smutt, a balding dutch
man in golden sportswear and a dodgy accent who is
about as interesting as watching dust collect on
furniture. This villain who has double-jointed
knees, eats pieces of his skin and asks everyone
if they feel 'toight', is the most unfunny and
annoying character of the series.

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This third film brings back most of the favorites
that have appeared throughout the series. Mike Myers
plays the new villain and returns as Austin Powers,
Dr. Evil, and Fat Bastard. Robert Wagner, Seth Green,
Mindy Sterling, and Verne Troyer as Mini-me, reprise
their roles as Dr. Evil’s sidekicks. Michael York
returns as Basil, Austin’s agency boss. Beyoncé
Knowles plays Foxxy Cleopatra, a parody of Pam
Grier’s 70’s tough girl. In this installment,
Goldmember teams with Austin's archenemy Dr. Evil
on a plan to destroy Earth using a giant meteor
made of gold. Austin takes another time-travel
journey to 1975 to rescue his dad, legendary agent
Nigel Powers (Michael Caine). While there, Austin
hooks up with old flame Foxxy Cleopatra, a spy
working undercover in Goldmember's disco.


How is the transfer?


Just when you thought transfers couldn't be any
better...

Goldmember is the best non-direct-digital
transfer on DVD to date both in video and audio
quality. The transfer is absolutely so pristine
that I can't think of one thing negative to say
about it.

So let's talk about the positive things...

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First, this picture is bright and bold, with highly
detailed razor-sharp images. There's absolutely no
visible film grain or noise, and blemishes are totally
nonexistent. Black levels are very deep, giving the
picture a very nice texture. It's amazing how close
to hi-def this transfer looks.

The most eye-pleasing factor of this transfer is its colors.
You would almost swear from the film's opening
credits that you were watching a Technicolor film.
There is such a kaleidoscope of colors vividly
represented throughout this film. But you really need
to go no further than the film's opening 10 minutes
to get a taste of how gorgeous this transfer looks.
The first thing you notice is Austin's red, white &
blue Shaguar which literally looks 3-dimensional
against the desert landscape. Next, check out how
wonderful Austin's dark purple, red & blue suit is
vividly detailed. Then there's the tribute to
Singin' In The Rain where you see a
multi-hued spectrum of raincoats that are intensely
vibrant. Finally, check out Austin's swingin' 60s
pad (as he sings Daddy wasn't there), to
see a show of ever-changing colors like you have
never seen before. With such intensity within the
film's color scheme you never see any oversaturation
and flesh tones remain dead-on accurate.

There are several sound options available on this
DVD: Dolby Digital EX 5.1, DTS ES 6.1, or
2.0 Dolby surround. The DTS track was the one
I opted to select for this review.

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The most impressive aspect of this surround mix is
the way the film's score and musical numbers are so
evenly distributed across all the channels, wrapping
you into its encircling environment. For instance,
during the songs Daddy Wasn't There and It's
a Hard Knock Life
, the backup chorals are nicely
placed in the rears while the main vocals and score
play across the front. Of course, every effect noise
used in the film is distinctly placed across all the
channels, from credits that fly across the room front
to back to the underwater scenes involving Dr. Evil's
sub where air bubbles seem to emanate from every
direction.

Sound is very clear and distinct with the front
channels being extremely bass-heavy (you'll hear how
much in the opening beats of the film score). The
LFE channel also gets a complete workout providing
thunderous low bass that I could feel beneath my couch.

I suppose you could interperate from the above that I
found the audio portion of this DVD to be just as
impressive as the video. No doubt, folks, this is
a demo-quality disc.


Special Features

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Released under New Line's Infinifilm banner,
this DVD has a wealth of supplemental material to
browse through. But before we do, let me say how
impressed I was with the layout of this DVD. You
might call this a "DVD for dummies" as this entire
disc is supplemented with help topics that explain
everything from how to properly navigate through the
DVD to why the film has black bars on the top and
bottom. If you ever get stuck, there's always a
question mark you can click on or a tutorial close
at hand.

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Now the first thing you are going to want to do
after watching the film completely through is
to go to the Infinifilm area and select
Play Infinifilm. As you rewatch the movie
you'll notice a blue bar occasionally appear at
the bottom of the screen enabling you to branch
off and watch a clip of how that scene was put
together. For example, as the movie opens, we
watch Austin parachute from the sky. When
prompted, click on your remote's ENTER key
to watch a short clip featuring Stunt Coordinator
Jack Gill talk about how the stunt shots were
developed. A few moments later, you will be
prompted again to look at another segment that
actually shows you the filming of the sky stunts.
Fortunately, it looks as if all these clips are
neatly organized by chapter. Keep hitting NEXT
on your DVD remote to go from clip to clip.

Even better, there's a Select A Scene menu
that breaks down all the individual branching areas
so you can easily look for the sequence you wish
to learn more about.

Those of you that have been out to Paramount studios
ought not to miss the branching clip of how the
dance sequences were filmed outside its old main
gate.

Okay, enough of that, let's take a look at the
supplementals which are broken down into two
categories, Beyond The Movie and All
Access Pass
.

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Let's begin with Beyond The Movie...

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A Fact Track sounded pretty cool until I
realized there were no cool pop-ups of information
such as in recent DVD films like Spider-Man.
Instead, there's an equally informative text track
that plays in the subtitle area of the film, giving
interesting facts about the film and anything else
closely related to it.

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MI-6: International Man of Mystery is a look
at the upper-crust of society -- the gentlemen that
made up the British Secret Intelligence Service
which was born shortly before WWI. Promising
glamour, this service was sort of an espionage
fraternity of which books and movies so properly
portrayed. Director Jay Roach talks about the
old school ways of spy movies and how his films
make such great light of it. (4:23)

English, English explores the unique
language that Austin and his father Nigel spew
out while in Goldmember's chambers. You'd be
surprised to learn that this is actually a real
language spoken here, created by convicts in
order to talk in front of English guards without
them knowing what was being said. The cockney
language soon spread quickly throughout London,
with most of it spoken by the British army. You
will really laugh as Mike Meyers explains how
embarrassed he was in front of his friends as
his Dad spoke this strange language. (2:25)

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Disco Fever takes us on the Studio 54 set
as we meet Music Executive Danny Bramson who
explains why the disco was the perfect representation
for the sights and sounds of the 70s era. It was
quite fortunate that both Myers and director Jay
Roach had such love for that sort of music, totally
embracing the idea of using as much of it as
possible. This featurette slightly dwells into
the history of disco and the dancing that it
inspired. We also learn how several #1 disco
songs of the time were all chopped up, pieced back
together, and rewritten with new lyrics for this
film. (4:21)

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Fashion vs. Fiction introduces us to
Costume Designer Deena Appel and Head Hairstylist
Candy L. Walken who gives us a brief run-through
of the different costumes and hairstyles that so
accurately represent the different eras this film
takes place in. Many of the original conceptual
costume drawings are shown here, as well as an
explanation as to why color is so important in
defining an era. (1:57)

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It's now time to move on to All Access Pass....

First up is the full-length commentary with
Jay Roach and Mike Meyers. Ever want to know how
much the actor weighs in stocking feet? You'll
find out in the opening moments. Of course, you
can't expect this commentary to be anything but
extraordinary thanks to the non-stop wit of Mike
Myers. Roach and Meyers talk about the eventful
day that all the A-list actors showed up for the
film, all taking time off from their very tight
schedules. That opening scene that featured
those actors was shot in a mere 6-8 hours, and they
were all highly professional. One of the nicest
stories told by Roach and Meyers is the day that
Katie Couric showed up on the prison set to play
a guard. She was really into what she was doing,
but yet very vulnerable about how good her overall
performance was. Throughout this commentary we
hear about ideas that didn't quite pan out such
as Dr. Evil's lair being inside an oil rig -- an
idea that was later changed to a submarine. We
also learn how props were rigged up and effects
were pieced together with Mike and Jay complimenting
just about every person they can along the way.
You can tell that both these men were having a
great time, just sitting back and talking about
all the little elements that went into producing
each scene.

There are just about 25 minutes of deleted
scenes
presented here, broken down into
individual chapters that range from approximately
30 seconds in length to nearly three minutes.
Even though these are all obviously gags that
didn't quite go over as well as expected, they
certainly are a joy to watch. In fact, these are
some of the best deleted scenes I have had the
pleasure of watching in a long time. Some of the
deleted scenes include:

* An extension of the film's opening musical
number where Meyers has a bit of fun with a
mirror matching tops and bottoms. This is actually
a take-off of an old Benny Hill routine.

* A very drunk Mike Meyers (reminiscent of Dudley
Moore) not dealing very well with his father not
showing up to the Knighting.

* An absolutely hilarious scene with young
Powers and Dr. Evil. Powers arises from bed with
absolutely no clothes on, sporting his overly hairy
chest. Dr. Evil's ever-changing text book blocks
Power's dirty bits.

* Another side-splitting sequence with Dr. Evil
and Mini-me in prison, lifting weights and
getting a little aggressive with their cell mates.

* A very expensive Tokyo set built on Warner
Brother's backlot has Austin signing autographs
and being reunited with the Fook-Me/Fook-U sisters.

* Some additional Fat Bastard footage was shot
for test audiences. This is the complete footage
before cuts were made.

* A great idea and low-tech joke that never made
the final cut features Dr. Evil giving the orders
for his sub to make a quick rudder tilt, causing
everyone to literally fly across the entire set.

* Worth a watch! In a homage to many media references,
the entire cast breaks into a Burt Bacharach song
headed by the voice of Jay Roach's wife, Susanne.
There's some really hilarious pieces of material here
such as Mini-me in a baby swing and Frau Farbissina
in bondage. There's even a really cool cameo spot
here that I won't reveal. Awfully upsetting that
this scene was removed, because it really is terrific.

All of these scenes are presented in the film's
original aspect ratio, and are in beautiful finished
form. You have the option of playing these scenes
with or without commentary from director Jay Roach.
As always, I recommend you have the commentary on
as it really does not interfere with the scene and
you get an awfully good amount of information.

Finally, in what appears to be the wrap up gag reel,
we watch a montage of outtakes that contain
flubbed lines, props that fail to work, and just
plain silliness. There's even a little bit of Mr.
Bigglesworth included here as well. There is some
hilarious material here that you'll want to watch
more than once.

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Now let's take a look at The World Of Austin
Powers
which is an entire area unto itself...

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Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creative Convergence
kind of reminds me of the phrase, "expect the
unexpected" where just about anything can happen
on an Austin Powers set (and you better have enough
film in the camera to capture it). The cast talks
quite fondly about Myers and his ability to
improvise, as we watch him ham it up on the set,
causing his co-stars to break into uncontrollable
laughter. Fortunately, Director Jay Roach allows
as much improvising from his actors as possible.
He creates a very open environment where just about
anything goes once the camera starts rolling.
(6:20)

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Confluence of Characters is broken down
into individual segments that look at how characters
were created as well as showing various rehearsal
footage. In Goldmember we learn how the
character was influenced by a real-life dutchman
who ran a sex farm. Of course, Foxxy Cleopatra
was inspired by the Pam Grier characters seen in
soul cinema films of the 70s. Nigel Powers
reveals how Michael Caine himself partly became
the influence for the creation of Austin Powers.
Masters Powers and Evil takes a look at the
young actors who were selected to play the youthful
versions of the film's lead characters. We watch
some audition footage, as well as hear how excited
these young men were to work on the film and meet
Mike Meyers.
(total length: 15:37)

Opening Stunts repeats some of the branching
material in the film by showing us how the high-
flying stunt work was done using pre-video test
footage and storyboards (2:16). The Cars of
Austin Powers
takes us through the fabrication
of many of the great automobiles used in the film,
including a tiny version of the Jaguar that Mini-me
drove (2:21).

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Anatomy of Three Scenes is quite fun to
watch in that it takes you behind the camera and
totally dissects three main film sequences. First,
there's Dancing at the gates which shows
how talented of a dancer Mike Meyers really is.
Once again we go to the Paramount lot where we
watch the film's opening dance sequence being
lensed, complete with Meyers on a film crane for
added effect (4:54). Roller Disco takes
us through the rehearsal process at a disco club
where Michael directs his cast of dancers (2:18).
Finally, Sumo Battle takes us to the arena
set as we watch Fat Bastard rehearse as well as
having additional hair and make-up applied to him
(4:02).

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Visual Effectsbegins with a lengthy
introduction from Visual Effects Supervisor
David Johnson who takes us through some of the
elements that made up the illusions that were
added to many of the effect stunts such as baby
powder which was used as smoke for the Shaguar's
ejection seat. We learn how green screens and
high speed cameras were used to create an exploding
helicopter sequence. We also see examples of
background pictures being manipulated with added
CGI on order to create an entirely new landscape
(4:01). In a short effects sequence, you can use
your remote to watch how various elements were
added to a scene where Goldmember's car enters
Dr. Evil's submarine (:08).

Four Music Videos are included here: Work
It Out
(Beyoncé); Boys (Britney Spears);
Daddy Wasn't There (Ming Tea) and Hard
Knock Life
(Dr. Evil and Mini-Me).

You want trailers?! There's plenty here.
First, there are four individual teaser trailers
followed by the film's original theatrical trailer.

DVD-ROM content consists of quite a few
individual weblinks to various Austin Powers and
New Line websites, with promised exclusive content
in the near future. There's even a nice selection
of downloadable desktop wallpaper here featuring
your favorite Austin Powers characters.

Now I have to talk about the Revoice Studio
that is included in this DVD-ROM, because the nice
folks at New Line really wanted me to try
this out -- so much so that they sent me a microphone
along with my screener DVD. I have to tell you, this
is a wickedly cool feature that I had a lot of fun
with. First, you plug a standard microphone into your
computer. Friendly menus guide you through the
process of setting up and testing the microphone,
getting the recording levels juuust right.

Now the fun begins....

You have the option of selecting several scenes
from the movie that feature various Austin Powers
characters. The idea is to replace their
voice with [/i]yours[/i]. The software couldn't
make it any easier....you get a script, a practice
session that counts down your cue, and several
opportunities to synch everything correctly. In
no time, I had Dr. Evil talking in my own voice.
You can even rate and store your favorite performances
for later playback.

I really need to thank the folks at New Line
Cinema for setting me up with a microphone and
for encouraging me to try out this feature. It was
a lot of fun to play with and I can imagine how
cool it will be for kids 1/4 of my age.


Final Thoughts


I want to be sure everyone understands where I
stand on this DVD release of Goldmember.

Although the film did not meet my expectations, I
still had an awfully good time watching it, and will
forever remain a fan of Austin Powers.

The DVD, on the other hand, absolutely exceeded
all my expectations. I have to sit here and wonder
how New Line was able to fit all this material on
one disc (including commentary, fact track, branching
and DVD-ROM content) and still produce the sharpest,
most colorful transfer of any DVD in recent memory.

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If I could describe this DVD in one word, that word
would be FUN. This is an awfully cool DVD
that has a terrific assortment of supplements including
some very funny deleted scenes. In addition, the
DVD-ROM revoice studio was really a blast to
play around with.

Treat yourself to an early Christmas gift. Don't
miss the opportunity to own the best Austin Powers DVD to date!

Release Date: December 3, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 58 OFFLINE   Jeff Pryor

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Posted October 31 2002 - 11:46 AM

Can't wait for this one! Great review, as always.
Heads I win, tails you lose.

#3 of 58 OFFLINE   Chris Farmer

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Posted October 31 2002 - 12:10 PM

Hmm, was on the fence of buying this sight-unseen in the 3-pack. Count me as off the fence and in the check-out line.

#4 of 58 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted October 31 2002 - 12:17 PM

Great review. Never planned on buying this, but it looks interesting.
"Here's looking at you, kid."

 


#5 of 58 OFFLINE   KyleRoussel

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Posted October 31 2002 - 12:30 PM

I always enjoy a DVD that looks great, but I really didn't enjoy Goldmember. You nailed it right on Ron, it comes off as a series of sketches put end to end to fill 90 minutes.

Still...I already own 1 and 2, it would be a shame not to complete the set...

#6 of 58 OFFLINE   Jason Hughes

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Posted October 31 2002 - 12:33 PM

Was anybody else hoping for a Ron Howard as Scott Evil cameo?
Government in action = Government inaction

#7 of 58 OFFLINE   NickFoley

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Posted October 31 2002 - 01:29 PM

Im sold on this one. Gonna pick it up 12/3/02

#8 of 58 OFFLINE   Jason Quillen

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Posted October 31 2002 - 01:31 PM

Sounds great. I thought the movie was really funny. I've held off for a long time in buying # 1 and 2, but now with the new keep cases (goodbye, snappers) and the 3-Pack I think I'll be picking them all up at once.
JQ

#9 of 58 OFFLINE   Jenna

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Posted October 31 2002 - 01:50 PM

Excellent review, Ron! Will definitely pick this one up. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

HOWEVER, that screenshot of Fat Bastard! Ugh! Giant man-breasts are such a turnoff. (Gagging!)

My Collection

#10 of 58 OFFLINE   Brenton

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Posted October 31 2002 - 02:50 PM

Ron, I agree 100% with your opinion of the film, point-for-point. A lot of fun, but without much substance to it. And I will be picking this disc up, that is as long as I have the money. Heheh, all the other must-have discs of the season are overwhelming my limited supply of cash.

And I may be crazy, but the reissue of the first two titles in keepcase-form may prompt me to repurchase The Spy Who Shagged Me, the only one in the series I currently have.

#11 of 58 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted October 31 2002 - 04:22 PM

I have yet to get the dvds for first two Austin Powers movie (was about ready when they went on sell), but now I will definately get the three disc box set. Great reveiw Ron and enjoy your vaction (care to share the place's location?).
I need a new signature.

#12 of 58 OFFLINE   Joel C

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Posted October 31 2002 - 04:36 PM

Glad to hear there's some Mr. Bigglesworth in the outtakes. What bugs me most about Austin 2&3 is that they replaced Mr. B with annoying Mini-Me. The lack of the cat was, I think, what made me dislike the second so much. It got better on video, though. But the first is still the best, in my eyes, and the most comprehensible as a movie.
Joel
woemcats@hotmail.com
"Why I laugh?"

#13 of 58 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted October 31 2002 - 05:19 PM

I am very surprised how they were able to main such video quality with a DTS track and so many extras. Does anyone know how they were able to do this? It seems most movies suffer as a result.

#14 of 58 OFFLINE   Dean Cooper

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Posted October 31 2002 - 05:29 PM

Yep, count me in! Thanks for the great review Ron.

Dean

#15 of 58 OFFLINE   Dean DeMass

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Posted November 01 2002 - 01:46 AM

Cant wait to get this. I had a lot of fun with the 3rd installment of the series. 1st is still the best, but 2 and 3 are very funny.

Had to love the kickstand comment. Posted Image

-Dean-

#16 of 58 OFFLINE   rhett

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Posted November 01 2002 - 03:34 AM

Shagadelic review Ron, thanks.
"The Night HE Came Home"

#17 of 58 ONLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted November 01 2002 - 04:05 AM

Missed it in the theater because of some personal things that cluttered up my time, but count me in as a fan of 1 & 2 who will be picking this up to complete the set! I understand it wasn't received with the same enthusiasm as 1 & 2 but I like Mr. Myers' work and I'm willing to buy this one sight-unseen!

XBox Live: TheL1brarian (let's play Destiny on XB1)


#18 of 58 OFFLINE   Josh Sieg

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Posted November 01 2002 - 07:38 AM

Good review! Too bad the first and second films were released in those cardboard cases. Whats this I'm hearing about a 3 disc set??
My favorites:

#19 of 58 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted November 01 2002 - 07:48 AM

Really...you though the transfer was good?

I found the excessive Edge Enhancement horribly distracting.





Just Kidding!!!!!!!!! Posted Image

Just watched the *original* Austin movie 2 nights ago (had to get psyched-up for my Halloween costume...I was a 1960's gogo girl) and while it looked sharp and clear from a far viewing distance, anything within a 30 degree angle of viewing revealed MASSIVE compression artifacting in almost every scene. Really a shame (though interesting to remember how it was *the* demo DVD when it first arrived.

I hope that New Line give us an SE of the original film soon...with a new compression job to do it justice. It *could* look SOOOO good on a 100" screen!

dave Posted Image
Be an Original Aspect Ratio Advocate

Supporter of 1080p24 video and lossless 24 bit audio.

#20 of 58 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 01 2002 - 10:39 AM

Quote:
Really...you though the transfer was good?

I found the excessive Edge Enhancement horribly distracting.

Boulet, you nut!

I read those first two sentances and my heart sunk.

Thanks for giving my heart a few quick extra beats.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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