Plot: What’s it about?
Dr. Evil is back, and this time he’s…on Springer? Yeah, that nefarious bald guy is first spotted by the government during an appearance with his son on Jerry Springer. Of course, he’s gunning for our hero, Austin Powers, and he has a plan. Dr. Evil has built a “time machine,” which he will use to send a spy, Fat Bastard, back in time to when Austin is still frozen. Once there, Fat Bastard drills into the ice, and removes Powers’ mojo, which leaves our hero powerless! Or at least…he can’t get worked up enough to shag. Evil has a new henchman as well, an exact clone of himself, only 1/8 the size, Mini Me. Evil’s plan to take over the world this time includes a “laser” that will emit from the moon, which Evil has turned into a “death star,” which will destroy major cities until the president pays Evil the ransom. The whole shebang is called “The Alan Parsons Project,” and Evil couldn’t be prouder. But…Austin is still active, and along with new lady pal Felicity Shagwell, they hatch a plan of their own to stop Evil and his cohorts. But can Austin do it…without his mojo?
This installment of Austin Powers is very similar to the first one, filled with spy genre spoofs and conventions. But I feel this sequel is superior to the first, because of several reasons, most prominent being the fact that AP2 has a fully developed storyline and plot. I like the first film, but I always thought it lacked cohesion, it seemed like a patchwork of sewn together pieces. Funny, but not a very fluid movie. AP2 succeeds in that area, with a nicely full plot, and an actual complete storyline. More attention is paid to detail in this volume as well, such as tying up loose ends from the first picture, such as Vanessa and Austin’s relationship and what not. Don’t get me wrong, I think Austin Powers 1 was a pretty funny flick, but I enjoyed the sequel more, for both comedic and literary reasons.
The cast of Austin Powers is solid, not great in most respects, but for this movie, it’s good. Heading up the cast of course, is Mike Myers (Wayne’s World, So I Married An Axe Murderer), who plays several roles in the film. Myers reprises the roles of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, who remain true to their representations from the first film, as well as adding a new character, Fat Bastard. Powers is entertaining in this sequel, but lacks the edge he had in the first film. I find myself rooting for Dr. Evil, since Powers seems outmatched in this picture. Evil, however, loses nothing from the first film, and adds new sides to his persona. He shows a romantic side, he fights with Jerry Springer, and he nurtures his personal clone. I know it’s just a comedy, but Evil is well developed here, whereas Powers seems stuck, and even loses a great deal of his appeal in this movie. Dr. Evil steals the show, plain and simple. Myers’ new role, Fat Bastard, is a welcome addition, helping to keep this sequel fresh and original. I have seen many people condemn the film’s new characters, but I find them entertaining, and feel they breathe vital creative breath into the series. Myers is not an actor I usually enjoy, but his performances here are quite good.
Robert Wagner (Wild Things, The Longest Day) returns as Number Two, Evil’s right hand man. When Evil goes back in time, Number Two is of course younger, and played by Rob Lowe (The Stand). Lowe’s performance is dead on, and he really brings the feel of the character to this younger edition, right down to the voice. Also back from the first film is Seth Green (Can’t Hardly Wait, Idle Hands), who reprises his role as Dr. Evil’s son. I don’t care for Green’s acting, but he is decent here. I don’t believe the character calls for much of a stretch, however. Heather Graham (Bowfinger, License To Drive) stars as Austin’s gal pal, Felicity Shagwell. While I felt some new characters were needed, Graham never suprises me with her lack of ability, and really brings down any scenes she is a part of. Now, I realize many out there will disagree with me, but I feel the only skills Graham possesses are her looks, which in my opinion, can be duplicated by many talented actresses. Returning as Basil is Michael York (Logan’s Run), who turns in his usual solid performance. Rounding out the cast are Elizabeth Hurley, Will Ferrell, and Mindy Sterling, with cameos by Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Tim Robbins, Elvis Costello, and Burt Bacharach.
Now, this may seem excessive to some people out there, but it is my forum, so I’m doing it anyway. One of the main reasons I find this movie so entertaining is the addition of Mini Me, played by Verne Troyer. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this character, and his interactions with Dr. Evil. Bringing in Mini Me opened the door to so many of the movie’s funniest bits, and I can’t imagine the film being as good without him. If for no other reason, Mini Me is the true star of Austin Powers for his fight scene, where he beats the tar out of Powers. I feel like Dr. Evil stole Austin Powers thunder in this sequel, but the reason he did was because of his antics with Mini Me. The song/dance segments are classics, and my favorite parts of the movie by far. We love you, Mini Me! Verne Troyer can also be seen in Men in Black and Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, among other pictures.
Ok, ok. Enough about the movie, it’s time for you to go pick it up. If you’re fan of the first film, it’s a natural you’ll want to add this one to your collection. Even if you weren’t a fan, you still ought to check this flick out, many of the problems in the first film are taken care of with this sequel. I was not a huge fan of the first movie, but I love Austin Powers 2, and if for other reason, you must have Mini Me! With a great audio/video transfer, and extras galore, there’s no reason to bypass this disc.
Video: How does it look?
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is presented in an anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, with no option for full frame. It’s nice to have the option of full frame, but if it’s one or the other, it’s a lock for widescreen. This film relies heavily on colors, with many bright and bold colors featured, and this transfer looks perfect, with all the vibrance and richness the colors could possibly have. No traces of artifacting, grain, or any other imperfections either, which makes for another great transfer from New Line.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc is the first to present THX Surround Ex audio, but to be honest, I don’t have the system to be able comment on this new audio, so I won’t. What I will say is that this film is a comedy, and aside from the soundtrack, most of the audio is dialogue, so you don’t really expect a window shattering audio mix. But, I guess other sites disagree, as they seem to want explosive audio to come from a movie that is 90% talking and such. But, I see this film as dialogue driven, and the audio mix is great, with superb levels for both effects and dialogue, and the soundtrack sounds great. You audiophiles may not be pleased, but hey, it’s comedy, for Pete’s sake.
Supplements: What are the extras?
New Line pulls another rabbit out their hat with this disc, which is loaded with goodies. First off, you get two teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer, as well as a trailer for the first Austin Powers flick. You also get slim cast bios, which are decent, but not that deep. Also included are three music videos, from Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, and Mel B. I’m all for anything from a Spice Girl! New Line has included a cameos menu, so you can browse all the film’s cameos, and access the scenes directly. Behind the scenes footage is packed in, divided into categories for easy viewing, as well as over 20 minutes of deleted scenes, some of which are quite funny, some of which bite the big one. A full length running commentary with director Jay Roach, Mike Myers, and co-writer Michael McCullers is included as well. The commentary is a bit of a let down, as the one included on Austin Powers 1 is very funny, where this one borders on boring. Now…let the screen sit for thirty seconds on the special features menu, and you’ll access Dr. Evil’s secret menu! Yes! You get direct access to Mini Me and Dr. Evil’s song and dance numbers, which rocks, as well as a text feature which spotlights legendary villain’s plots, and how they were foiled. Also featured in Evil’s menu is Comedy Central’s “Spyography” on Dr. Evil, which is very funny and worth a watch!