Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.0:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. I wish I could report that Mystery appeared in its original theatrical dimensions, but that wasn’t the case. For reasons unknown, the transfer used a compromise 2:1 ratio. This moderately cropped the sides at times, though director Jay Roach shot it in the Super 35 format, which helped retain much of the original information. When necessary during a split-screen shot, the image reverted to 2.35:1 to make sure it didn’t lose material off the sides.
I still don’t understand why anyone endorsed the 2:1 transfer. The folks who don't like letterboxing aren't going to oppose it less because it's a little less narrow than 2.35, and those of us who do like letterboxing will feel irritated that the original theatrical presentation has been altered. Essentially, it's a compromise that pleases no one.
With or without the original aspect ratio, I found Mystery to provide a generally mediocre image. Sharpness usually seemed good. A few wide shots looked somewhat soft, but those didn’t appear too frequently. For the most part, the movie seemed detailed and accurate. However, the movie suffered from a vaguely “digital” look that made it a bit edgy. I noticed occasional examples of shimmering and also detected a moderate amount of edge enhancement. The DVD showed some digital artifacts. It also featured some speckles and grit, but the artifacts caused the most substantial distractions.
Colors usually looked good, and they often offered the strongest aspects of Mystery. The film used a terrifically varied and bright palette, and much of the movie provided clean and vibrant tones. However, they occasionally seemed a bit heavy, such as during the Fembot sequence; those colors appeared somewhat murky. Black levels were deep and dark, which shadow detail came across as appropriately dense but not excessively thick. Overall, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery had its highs and lows which led me to give it only a “C+” grade.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Mystery seemed more consistently pleasing. The film’s soundfield complemented the action, though it rarely became terribly active. The forward realm showed good stereo separation for the music, and those speakers also offered solid spread for effects. Those elements blended together well and moved neatly between the channels. The surrounds mainly added general reinforcement, as Mystery featured a good sense of environment.
Audio quality appeared positive for the most part. At times, speech sounded slightly tinny, but the lines usually seemed distinct and natural, and they showed no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, and they demonstrated no distortion. Music seemed vivid and bright, and bass response appeared acceptably deep and tight. The audio of Mystery was clear and bold, and the track lost points mainly due to its lack of sonic ambition.
This DVD release of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery presents a decent roster of extras. First we find an audio commentary from actor/writer Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. Both were recorded together for this running, screen-specific track. Although it sags at times, it generally offers an entertaining and informative piece. The pair cover a reasonable amount of details related to the movie, and though Myers isn’t the laugh riot one might expect, he drops some funny lines at times. I especially liked the running gag in which he mocks Roach’s insistence that Liz Hurley appeared in skimpy outfits as part of her “character arc”. Overall, the commentary seems good but unexceptional.
Next we locate seven deleted scenes. Each of these lasts between 45 seconds and 166 seconds for a total of 10 minutes, 39 seconds of material. Although none of these seem like killer clips, they are at least interesting and watchable, more so than a lot of the dreck that ends up on the cutting room floor. In any case, they make for quite a nice and entertaining extra and add value to this set.
For some text about non-Bond films, check out the Spy Genre Retrospective. This provides basic information about movies that fall under the spy umbrella and seems helpful. The Cameo Menu allows you to jump to scenes that feature these four performers: Carrie Fisher, Tom Arnold, Burt Bacharach and Rob Lowe. It also includes filmographies for those folks.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer - presented anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio – we find a section called The Cast. it offers short biographies and filmographies for Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Mimi Rogers, and Michael York. Also, within the various filmographies, we find clips from Dangerous Ground (Hurley), Lost In Space, Monkey Trouble and The Rapture (Rogers), and Wide Sargasso Sea (York).
Swedish Made Penis Enlarger Pump offers an odd waste of time. You go from screen to screen and get choices like “Continue or behave”. Go all the way to the end and you see a strange still photo piece with music and shots of Austin accompanied by catchphrases from the film. What’s the point? I have no idea. Music to Shag To essentially offers that odd musical/catchphrase montage on its own.
No, I never thought that Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery would spawn an incredibly successful series of sequels, but the movie definitely presents a generally amusing and entertaining piece of work. Though erratic as a whole, it tosses in enough warm and endearing humor to make it a fun film. The DVD suffers from moderately flawed picture quality, but it provides pretty good audio and a small but generally positive selection of supplements. The releases of the two Powers sequels seem significantly stronger as DVDs, but the original easily offers the best film experience.