Happily, that's not the case with this fine new DVD release from New Line.
I think New Line produce the best DVDs around, and AP:TSWSM will do little
to harm that reputation. The film is shown in its original theatrical
aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (yes, they got it right this time, unlike the strange
2:1 ratio director Jay Roach allegedly had them use for the first picture)
on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image is enhanced for 16X9
While the picture of AP:TSWSM isn't a liability, it wasn't the strength I
thought it would be. After all, this is a very recent movie, and New Line
usually do an excellent job with their transfers. The picture looked
consistently good but it lacked the high level of quality that I expected.
Sharpness is occasionally a problem; the image often betrays a slight amount
of softness. This tendency is not extreme, but it's there and it did
distract me; the image lacked the razor-sharpness that I think it should
have displayed. Colors were a great strength of the first film's DVD, and
while they're not bad here, they don't approach the "eye-popping" level on
display with that effort. Hues consistently look good but seem more subdued
and not quite as bold.
As one would expect, the print used for AP:TSWSM appears very clean; I
detected no grain or flaws. I also did not note any digital artifacts.
Black levels and shadow detail aren't much of a factor in a brightly-lit,
cartoon-colored film such as this, but when they did come into play, they
looked just fine. Overall, AP:TSWSM looks pretty good but doesn't live up
to my expectations.
The same can be said for the film's decent but unspectacular Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack. It gets the job done but lacks the flair and flash that I'd
expect from a big budget spectacular. For the most part, the audio image
remains very much biased toward the front channels; rear usage is pretty
good when it occurs - some nice split surround effects pop up during the
movie's climax - but these occasions are somewhat infrequent. The movie
offers a fairly nice front soundstage, but even then, stereo effects are not
fantastic. Still, they're pretty good.
I had no issues with the quality of the audio. In all aspects, it sounds
excellent. Dialogue sounded natural and generally lacked any obvious
"dubbed" appearance, while effects seemed realistic and clear. Music came
across as full-bodied and vibrant. While the soundtrack lacked the dynamic
channel-usage I expected, I certainly found the quality of the audio to be
more than satisfactory.
Easily the best thing about the AP:TSWSM DVD is the wealth of supplements
we find. This sucker's packed and tosses in a nice variety of extras.
First up is an audio commentary from director Roach,
star/co-producer/co-writer Myers, and cowriter Mike McCullers. Myers and
Roach also contributed a track for the DVD for the first movie, and it was a
disappointing semi-bore; it seemed dry and lacked the wit that one would
expect from a comedic talent like Myers.
This commentary isn't exactly a laugh riot either, but it's a good sight
better than the first one. Myers seems much more animated this time around,
although he's still not terribly funny. (I think this is because Myers is
more of an actor than a comedian; his talent lies in the characters he
portrays, so when he appears as himself, he loses his strength.)
Nonetheless, the track offers a perfunctory discussion of the film and its
creation. It's still pretty dry and tends to be overly positive - no form
of critiquing occurs - but it's worth a listen.
A pretty good "Behind the Scene" program appears on the DVD. It lasts for
26 minutes and acts as a nice complement to the commentary. Obviously, it's
not exhaustive, but the show offers a good look at the way things worked on
the set. As with the commentary, it's not tremendously informative, but
it's a good watch nonetheless.
More interesting are the 21 (!) deleted scenes included on the DVD. Most of
these are pretty brief; as a whole, the 21 scenes only amount to 19 minutes
of screentime. Still, they're pretty funny and entertaining - surprisingly
so, given my general dislike of the film itself. It's anyone's guess how
they decided what to keep and what to toss; I saw little logical reason why
many of these scenes didn't make the cut. The segments can be accessed
individually or run back-to-back; they're even nicely edited together so
they flow between scenes smoothly.
A wealth of promotional material appears on the DVD as well. Three trailers
for AP:TSWSM are included. Two of these are the teaser trailers - the
ones that refer to "Star Wars" - and they are nearly identical; they differ
only in the closing lines that Dr. Evil utters. The full-length trailer is
completely different and quite entertaining. A trailer for the first film
also found its way onto the DVD.
Three music videos appear here. We see Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger",
Lenny Kravitz's "American Woman", and Mel G's "Word Up". Amazingly, almost
no footage from the film pops up in the videos; the "Word Up" clip uses a
few seconds of outer space shots, but that's it.
That doesn't mean that the film tie-in isn't exploited, however. Indeed,
each video features characters from the movie performing in the clip. It's
pretty clear that a hierarchical system is on display here: Madonna gets
Myers as Austin, Kravitz gets Graham, while Mel G merits only Troyer's
Not surprisingly, Madonna's clip is easily the best of the bunch. It's a
pretty good song and although the level of Madonna/Austin interaction isn't
too high - much of the video consists of Maddy performing as Austin watches
and reacts - it's still a lot of fun. Kravitz's piece isn't terribly
special except for some rather, um, exciting shots of Graham gyrating to the
music. Granted, Graham would be sexy making toast, but her actions here
make the video well worth watching. (And watching again... and again... and
again...) While I do love the Spice Girls, Mel's clip is something of a
dog. Forget the merits (or lack thereof) of her cover of "Word Up" - it's
not bad, but it's not very good, either - the video is inane and dopey. Oh
well - Mel should be happy she was included at all, I suppose.
As also occurred on the first film's DVD, this one includes a list of cameo
appearances and lets you easily access them; in all, eight actors are
listed. Filmographies are provided for 12 actors and three crew members.
No, I didn't mistype; these are not biographies. All we get are film and TV
credits for these 15 folks. That's pretty weak and is one of the few
missteps on this otherwise terrific DVD.
That accounts for all of the "normal" extras. However, a few more appear in
"Easter egg" territory. Okay, the status of these supplements as "hidden
extras" is pretty questionable since they're listed on the DVD's case, but
since the case doesn't tell you how to find them, they count.
Here's what you do: click on the "special features" button and let Austin go
through his shtick. (The disc includes full-motion clips of Austin that
were obviously created especially for this DVD - nice touch!) After 30
seconds or so, a cartoon version of Dr. Evil's rocket will shoot through the
center of the screen and will deposit a Dr. Evil logo in the middle. When
it's done, click on the logo for a new list of extras.
The best one of these is a 20 minute program called The Dr. Evil Story.
This show originally aired as Comedy Central's Canned Ham and works as a
faux documentary under the "Spyography" banner. Robert Culp hosts the piece
and it features interviews with most of the main characters in the film.
The program's very funny and creative; I found it to be more enjoyable than
the movie itself. (It didn't hurt that the show was 70 minutes shorter.)
It's a very pleasant and happy addition to this DVD.
The Dr. Evil section also includes a few other minor extras. Direct access
is provided to Dr. Evil's performances of "One Of Us" and "Just the Two Of
Us", and we also receive a section called Classic Evil Schemes Gone Awry.
That feature offers fun synopses of 16 different secret agent movies. Ten
of the first eleven Bond films appear (for reasons unknown, The Man With
the Golden Gun doesn't make the cut, and I also don't know why no films
from the Eighties to date don't appear), and we also hear recaps of two
Flint pictures as well as one each from Matt Helm and Harry Palmer plus two
other movies. The synopses are brief but to the point and make for a fun
addition to the DVD.
Finally, the AP:TSWSM DVD includes what appears to be a fair amount of
DVD-ROM content. According to the case, we get: a sample round of the
"Austin Powers: Operation Trivia" computer game; the entire AP:TSWSM
website; Dr. Evil and Austin screen savers and web browsers; and "three
interactive Austin episodes take over your desktop!" Still no DVD-ROM drive
here, so I can't comment on any of these other than to alert you as to their
Ultimately, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a DVD I have to
recommend just because it contains so many fun supplements for such a low
price. While I expect the upcoming A Bug's Life and Tarzan special
edition DVDs to offer a nice array of extras, I nonetheless wouldn't
recommend them if I didn't like the films; with list prices of $49.95 each,
that's just too much money.
However, since AP:TSWSM lists for only $24.95, I feel that it's worth
obtaining just to enjoy the supplements. And it's not like I hate the film;
I just don't think it's very good. Still, it's watchable, and the high
quality of the extensive supplements makes this DVD a keeper.