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MORIARTY'S DVD SHELF! Austin Powers And Bond!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

I’ve been a bad boy.

No other way to describe it, really. Sure, I’ve been busy, but lots of people are busy. That’s no excuse for the way I’ve let these DVDs stack up here at The Labs. Seriously... they’re like snow drifts at this point. Henchman Mongo spent a week lost in there when I sent him to grab the PRISONER box set the other night, and the only reason we found him was because he set LATHE OF HEAVEN on fire to keep himself warm.

And believe me... I’m grateful each and every time someone sends me something to review, whether it’s a new release or a catalog title. As I’ve said before, I’m just plain goofy in love with the DVD format.

So now that Thanksgiving is over, I figure I’d better finally get my ass in gear and tell you just exactly what I’m thankful for recently. I figure the best thing to do is to just start knocking these out, a couple at a time, and posting several reviews a day until I leave for Austin and the Butt-Numb-A-Thon next Thursday. So, with that in mind, here’s one of this week’s new releases, and a film that I thought went quite well with it...


I can’t tell them apart anymore.

When a copy of New Line’s Infinifilm release of AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER showed up on my doorstep, MGM was just getting started with hyping up their newest batch of 007 releases, and I couldn’t help myself. I picked up a copy of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, which was the first Bond I saw theatrically, and one of the few that I didn’t already own.

And god help me... I can’t see any significant difference between the franchises anymore.

Both started modestly. DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE are fairly stripped down spy movies, more about suspense and brutal close-quarters killing. Bond’s a cold bastard in those films. Nothing funny about him. GOLDFINGER stepped it up a bit, and in doing so, it created the formula that is still essentially being used each time out. Every other film in the official MGM series plays out as a variation on a theme, and as such, Bond fans find themselves arguing over what films manage to transcend this slavish devotion to what has worked before. Fans pick through each new release to find the bits and the pieces that work, the things they like, and they’re fairly willing to forgive the rest. AUSTIN POWERS was the same way. The first one was a modestly budgeted film with a crystal-clear eye for specific satire. The second film turned everything up as loud as possible, and now the new film is essentially aping the first two films, packed to excess with things that have worked before, and the fun of it comes from picking it apart to find the things that worked.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is one of my favorite of the Roger Moore era Bond films. I love it for a number of reasons. First, there’s the Carly Simon theme, a classic, even if the Marvin Hamlisch score is among the very worst in the whole series. Second, there’s the Lotus, one of my favorite of the Bond cars, and the thing that first made me appreciate the gadget-love of the franchise. When I was seven and I saw that thing hit the water and transform into a sub, I automatically determined that James Bond was the coolest mutha on the planet, and he had the best toys. And third, there’s Richard Kiel, who is one of the great bad guys of the series, even if they did bring him back and totally ruin him in MOONRAKER. It’s even a decent story, not half as silly as some of the Moore films. When you watch the documentary that’s on the disc about the making of the film, you realize that it was a bit of a turning point, a make-or-break movie for the Broccolis and MGM. There were legal struggles behind the scenes, and it was fairly urgent that they make a film and make it work. The script was one of the first that wasn’t allowed to use any Fleming source material, and inventing it from scratch was new for the producers. This was that moment that Warner Bros. will one day face when (and if) they’ve made that seventh HARRY POTTER film and they have to figure out what extra coin they can pump out of the series. The fact that the script for TPWLM is as good as it is exists as a minor miracle. The documentary also does a great job of laying out some of the stunts, including that amazing opening ski jump off the side of the craziest damn mountain you’ve ever seen. The story behind that moment is very entertaining and well told here.

Unfortunately, the commentary on that disc is the exact opposite. No disrespect intended, since Ken Adams is one of the greatest production designers of all time, but he sounds just slightly older than God here, and he’s not the world’s most captivating speaker anymore. This is complicated by the fact that there are no introductions as the various speakers begin to talk, so it’s confusing as hell. These aren’t exactly celebrities we’re listening to, no matter what Lewis Gilbert may have directed. And what’s with the five minute breaks in the commentary where it sounds like everyone just takes off to go get coffee or use the can? You’ve got at least four people speaking in places, but no one has anything to say suddenly? The documentary does everything better, like telling the story about how Stanley Kubrick was involved in the film (yeah, you read that right) or showing us the people we’re listening to so we know who they are.

AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER, on the other hand, has an enormously entertaining commentary depending on your tolerance threshhold for Mike Myers. Personally, I’m entertained by the guy pretty much every time I see him or listen to him, and this is no exception. He and Jay Roach have a very funny relationship, and I like that Jay is just as vocal as Mike on this track. They’ve both got a lot to add as they talk about the supporting cast (they shower particular praise on the ultra-cute Beyonce Knowles and the painfully funny Verne Troyer), their work methods (they credit lines or gags that were contributed by friends, a generous gesture), and the one and only Michael Caine (the combination of awe and affection is obvious). More than anything, Myers and Roach make each other laugh. These are old friends, and the commentary is a lot like when you get Kurt Russell and John Carpenter together. Are they the most informative commentaries out there? No. But the personal nature of them is so appealing that you can’t help but enjoy the film itself more.

The documentaries do a nice job of filling out the material, and there are some real highlights. For example, I remember people who refused to believe that Josh Zuckerman and Aaron Himelstein did their own vocal work as young Dr. Evil and young Austin, respectively, but a six minute feature here shows the audition process, shows how they convinced Jay Roach not to use Mike Myers playing a younger version of his various characters, and how they were transformed by the makeup crew into remarkable likenesses of the original characters. I also really appreciate the brief glimpse at how Jay Roach has to deal with shooting scenes involving all the various Myers characters interacting, but would have loved to have seen more of it. Big, bright, pop mainstream comedies aren’t easy to put together if you want to actually build something worth more than a cursory glance, and I think Roach is one of the best guys doing it at the moment. When you see the environment he creates for the cast, it’s apparent why the films end up being so much fun. Yes, the documentaries are a bit of a love fest, with everyone saying how much fun Myers is and how great Roach is and how much fun the set is, but they back up all the back and forth adoration with things like the “Anatomy Of Three Scenes” section, where they walk you through the creation of three specific moments in the film. These really are sets where spontaneity seems to rule supreme, and where collaboration comes from all directions.

Both films are given excellent transfers in terms of sound and picture, but I’d complain that the GOLDMEMBER disc doesn’t even have English captions, much less alternate languages available. I’ve been paying more and more attention to the alternate languages available with titles recently, and the most confounding thing is how random it seems to be. Yes, I listen to the film and watch it in English, so it doesn’t directly impact me, but there are a lot of viewers who don’t, even in Region 1, and it would be nice to give them the choice.

I’ll be back a little later today with another group of reviews, as well as the winning entries in last week's PRODUCERS DVD contest, so I’ll see you then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 4, 2002, 5:31 a.m. CST

    His name's Jaws, He kills people.

    by Silvio Dante

    Richard Kiel. Where is that guy? Why hasn't QT hasn't already cast him in something?

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 6:08 a.m. CST


    by The Paladin

    Agreed, it really was disappointing. Loved the first two, and have the second on DVD, but I am with Harry when he said that he wants to see the "AustinPussy" movie in the begining. Make Dr. Evil evil the evil comic genius that he was in SWSM. **************************** Paladin - the 235 pound knight in shining armor - out.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 8:26 a.m. CST

    Goldmember was not funny.

    by Lizzybeth

    It really, really wasn't. I could see the buildup for every joke, and thought to myself, ok, this will be funny, but it invariably wasn't. I think "limp" is the word I'm looking for. Mike Meyers lost the funny when he left behind the good-natured doofus bits to go mean. A bit of comedic self-hate coming through? It just doesn't suit him. I'm probably alone here, but I found the AP movies less and less funny, in progression, and hope it stops here.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Goldmember spontanious humor

    by turk128

    Goldmember had the worst pacing of the three AP. Goldmember himslef came off flat and akward. That said, it has the funniest moments of all three films; doctor scene and fountain scene. Those scenes alone are worth getting the DvD.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 8:55 a.m. CST

    I think it was just lazy

    by Toby O Notoby

    Instead of running a tight script, they threw a bunch of shit against a wall and used what sticked. Little things about it kept bothering me. For exampe: Dr. Evil doesn't have his cat anymore. I guess that's fine if you think the joke is getting old, but then when you go back in time you see Dr. E with Mr. Bigglesworth which starts to make you think "hey, wtf happened to his cat". Same thing with Austin's teeth, they're fine in one scene and bad in the next with no real explanation why. There were bits I liked but compared to the first one, which was just about flawless, it really didn't work.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 9:36 a.m. CST

    The Prisoner Box Set...

    by Celtican

    is fantastic. If you havent got it go buy and it see how proper sci-fi/fantasy television SHOULD be made. God help us if this actually does get made into a movie. Who would play Number 6? My money's on Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers)

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Powers. Austin Powers

    by Electric_Monk

    The biggest problem with these films on DVD, with the exception of the first film, is that when you watch them in your home, when you are all by yourself, you realize how unfunny the Spy Who Shagged Me and Goldmember really are. They only work theatrically, when you are surrounded by a bunch of yahoos who think Adam Sandler and Jim Carey are funny. These guys might work on the silver screen, but on home video they are about as funny as the Bible.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Richard Kiel

    by Groovy_Chainsaw

    I think the reason Quentin hasn't cast Richard Kiel is because Kiel can't walk. The last thing he was in was 'Happy Gilmore' and he's always standing next to someone, leaning on them, or he's seen from the chest up. Even the scene at the end, where he's chasing Shooter McGavin is awkwardly shot -- it looks like he's riding a dolly or something. I could be wrong -- his condition may have been temporary, but I haven't seen him in any roles since and people of his size often develop bone problems which virtually cripple them. Anyone know the real deal ?

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 12:14 p.m. CST

    A seventh cameo in Goldmember

    by Groovy_Chainsaw

    I saw the 'Goldmember' dvd Saturday night. I liked it well enough -- it moves the frachise along well and there are a few good laughs, at least on an initial viewing. I knew what cameos to expect in the first 5 minutes and still found them very entertaining and well done. I wasn't expecting the big-name cameo at the end and found that one very funny, but another big celebrity appearance is hidden within the film with no hype spoiling the suprise. When Austin and his band, Ming Tea, perform his song "Daddy wasn't there" the go-go girl dancing next to them is Drew Barrymore !!

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 12:40 p.m. CST

    RE: Dr Evil's Cat

    by Gheorghe Zamfir

    Hehe, not to get anal about Austin Power's continuity issues, but Dr. Evil's cat actually died after the cat and Dr. Evil were revived from their frozen stasis in the first movie (as the chamber had never been tested for a cat), so it's actually kind of a good eye on their part to have the cat in flash backs but not now. And how big of a geek am I?

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 1 p.m. CST

    Heck, none of the AP movies hold a candle to Matt Helm...

    by minderbinder

    Sure, a few funny moments in AP3, but probably 80% crap - these movies are either hilarious or horrible with nothing inbetween.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 1:10 p.m. CST

    It was the best AP sequel

    by Russman

    I laughed my ass off at this movie. I like silly jokes and gags. And this movie had a great mix of new ones and old ones. I was laughing so hard when Scott gave Dr. Evil sharks with laser beams attached to their foreheads. It was great that they picked that one line from the first movie and made it happen in the third. Works for me.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 1:31 p.m. CST


    by Tsunami3G

    Love the info on the commentaries, Mori. I just finished THE THING and you are right. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell add a lot to an already fantastic film. I'll have to pull the AUSTIN POWERS series and watch those now. By the way, THE HUSTLER commentary was terrible.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 1:45 p.m. CST

    If you have an issue, here's a tissue

    by Han Ol' Buddy

    I work part-time at Blocbuster (being an architect doesn't pay so well) and was able to rent this for free. I didn't see it in the theaters, but wanted to, just never got around to it. Weird, huh? Anyways, I have to say that I actually liked it. It was completely formulaic, but what else is new? And, they've pretty much gone beyond spoofing Spy movies and have just started doing their own thing. I saw it twice (once with the girlfriend and again with her family after turkey dinner) and everyone enjoyed it. My favorites were the cameos in the beginning (if you watch closely, Steven Spielberg gets up off his chair and backflips off-screen), the water fountain scene (Asparagus?!?), and the running gag of the shadows. I busted a gut. Anyways, it's not Memento, but it was pretty entertaining. I just wish that Blockbuster would stop renting only Full-Frame DVDs on some releases. Insomnia, Scooby-Doo, Goldmember, and others. I want my letterbox!

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 1:57 p.m. CST

    The Extras on Goldmember

    by Celtican

    I like that spoof docu on MI6 agents. What? oh it isn't a spoof? It's real? I was laughin so hard at that guy. He think's he so cool knowing all this secret information. hey buddy it's secret! All that bull about gentlemen agents and stuff, what a dick. He is living in a fantasy world. Recently in the UK there was a guy called David Shaylor who was an MI6 agent turned traitor. He exposed many secrets and was arrested when he returned to Britain. He was basically employed as an MI6 secret agent. This guy was fat, irritating and definitely not a gentlemen. MI6 aren't stupid, they dont recruit Pierce Brosnan lookalikes or only Oxbridge students. For fucks sake they recruited Pam Ayres as an agent! You didn't see that coming. (For the US readers, Pam Ayres was a British poetess famed for her west country accent). I love the bit where he claims all James Bond's gadgets were American and has a little laugh about it. What? James Bond is fictional! It's a series of movies! the gadgets used are invented by artistic designers not stolen from top secret American spylabs. Get a grip!

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Captions & Subtitles?

    by NickFoley

    Whats the big f'ing deal?

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 2:27 p.m. CST


    by pmorano

    I love english subtitles on DVDs. When I watched Lord of the Rings I couldn't understand a damn word of what they said and couldn't understand if some wierd word they said was a person's name or object or what it meant. (Plus for some reason the score was SO LOUD on the copy I rented, it drowned their voices.) British movies are the same way, I can't understand what the hell they are babbling about sometimes and english subtitles help. Much better than pausing and asking everyone what they said.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 2:35 p.m. CST

    English subtitles are essential if you have a big family.

    by Vegas

    For instance, before I moved out I lived in a house with my mom, my brother, my sister, my COMPLETELY FUCKING DEAF Grandmother, and my aunt who was basically just my grandma's enabler. Though my grandmother is COMPLETELY FUCKING DEAF, she insists on watching CNN 24 hours a day with the volume all the way up. Also, if you turn up the volume on another tv IN A COMPLETELY FUCKING DIFFERENT ROOM, the aunt would come barging in to tell you to turn it down so my COMPLETELY FUCKING DEAF grandma could hear about the latest child abduction/school shooting/terrorist bombing/Republican dominated election, so that she could later on bitch about how sucky the world is. Consequently, the only way to enjoy a fucking movie in that house was with the damn english subtitles. Also, I think going deaf might be genetic, and I have this fear that someday I too will lose my hearing. If, alas, that day should come to pass, I'd like to be able to watch the fucking dvds I paid good money for. SO PLEASE, if any dvd manufacturers are reading this, PUT THE DAMN ENGLISH SUBTITLES ON THERE. It doesn't take up much space, and it sure as fuck doesn't cost as much as paying Ah-nuld to say "egg-zact-lee" 75 times during a commentary.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 2:40 p.m. CST

    what happened to mori's 'confessions of a dangerous mind' review

    by tommy5tone

    i came back to AICN to read it and IT WAS GONE! waaaah! come back!

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Richard Kiel can walk...

    by crimsonrage

    ...but not very well. I saw him a few years back at a Christian convention where he was a special guest.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Dr Evil's cat didnt die. It turned BALD, right?

    by the G-man

    That was the whole joke.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 9:25 p.m. CST


    by ThePoleOfJustice

    The Pie Who Loved Me. ------ Oh yeah, The Prisoner Box Set is indeed outstanding, although it should be mentioned that it's really just the individually available DVDs in one box. Nothing special about it outside of that. And (aargh) last I heard, The Prisoner movie was to be directed by...Simon West. Kill me now.

  • Dec. 4, 2002, 11:08 p.m. CST

    Kiel's best role was as the title character in Eegah!

    by Osmosis Jones

    "Watch out for snakes!"

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 12:06 a.m. CST

    When "best friends" Kurt Russel and John Carpenter get together

    by Darth Phallus

    Well, they should, with today's special effects it would kick ass and easilly make bookoo DeNiro (wrong spelling intentional, smart guy!)

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 12:46 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    Ya got me, Pole. Y'know, proof-reading is probably a habit I should develop someday. And, don't worry, Tommy5Tone, you're not insane. There was a CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND review up. I didn't realize there was an embargo after the press screening, though, so I took it down and will repost it in about a week. Sorry to make you doubt your sanity, man.

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 2:28 a.m. CST

    $14.99 FOR "W-I-D-E-S-C-R-E-E-N" DVD

    by NickFoley

    Not bad considering its WIDESCREEN, has DTS-ES & DD-EX. Remember. Always buy a new release the first week its out for the best price. After that, they jack it the hell up.

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 5:24 a.m. CST

    Matt Helm? Arrrrrrrggghhhh!

    by Charlie & Tex

    Only on Monday, they played The Ambushers on TV. Having social lives, the DVD-R was set to record a tacky slice of 60's exuberance. We should have known what to expect, as in the last year alone they have played 2 of the others here in the UK. The first was too long, but not excruciating. The Wrecking crew at least benefited from the involvement of Bruce Lee and Sharon Tate, but it was essentially crap. But the Ambushers...oh Christ!!! Surely there were better ways of keeping Dino's liver floating on a sea of happiness? God, it's almost like a Frankie and Annette movie without its' compelling irony. Take anybody who has ever slated the 60's Batman show, sit them down in front of The Ambushers, and watch them change their tune to something by Nelson Riddle. OK, Dino might have had to content with hideously 60's set designs and the worst of pop-culture theme songs, but he had it easy as Helm. In the 70's, Tony Franciosa had to deal with a leading lady as butch as Ann Turkel. Talk about an insurmountable task...

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 5:24 a.m. CST

    Errr... Celtican

    by Ernst Blofeld

    Hate to do this but David Shaylor was MI5, who deal entirely with National Security and rarely leave the UK. And for that matter, he wasn't that high up in MI5 and the he didn't sell secrets to the enemy, he just blabbed to anyone who'd listen about operating practices. It was remarkable how many people he'd bored with his stuff. Still, I can't watch the beginning of TSWLM anymore thanks to Alan Partridge on Monday night BBC 2. Even if it was a poor episode, a Partridge in full flow is a site to behold. "Stop getting Bond wrong!"

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 5:37 a.m. CST

    David Shaylor

    by Celtican My mistake but I got his status from the above links. As you know MI5 handle internal security as MI6 handle external/international. Interesting that Shaylor spent most of his career overseas.

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 3:30 p.m. CST

    How to tell one movie series from another:

    by desslok

    One has lame ass fart and poo jokes and is amazingly un-funny.

  • Everyone should go out and buy the box sets of Patrick McGoohan's Secret Agent aka Danger Man DVDs. There are 40 episodes on DVD so far and each hour long episode is the best SPY flick this side of James Bond. Given that McGoohan was asked twice to be James Bond, it's worth it to see just how it might have been. In regard to the statement that with The Spy Who Loved Me and how the producers couldn't use any more Ian Fleming material ... well ... they still aren't using the literary Bond material even though there's a wealth of it from other authors now and they seem to be popular. So why are the ignoring it?

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Jason Isaacs as Blofeld!

    by riskebiz

    I was thinking that it would be cool if the next James Bond film stole back the character of Blofeld from the parody of Austin Powers and brought Blofeld back with a vengeance as the sadistic terrorist he should be. My vote is for Jason Isaacs to portray Blofeld. I think he could make people forget Dr. Evil in a heartbeat.

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 7:48 p.m. CST

    Richard Kiel

    by BlackBeltJones

    Last thing I remember seeing him it was Pale Rider. He was the guy that got the sledgehammer smashed into his jimmy. I noticed that he had a slight limp at that time and that was in 86 or 87. The Belt Has Spoken

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Goldmember has one big problem...

    by a goonie

    it's not funny.

  • Dec. 5, 2002, 10:22 p.m. CST

    "Goldmember" was pretty bad.

    by Elgyn6655321

    Even worse than the second one. And Dr. Evil looked different. The same damn jokes from the first two movies.