Rather strangely, before this re-release was announced, I’d felt an urge *quick look to the camera* to re-visit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery for a while now! Something lingered in my memory of its pure escapism, utter silliness and general entertainment that felt like it was needed to counteract the events of 2020, and man… I’m so thankful all these things still hit the right marks in this cult classic.
Icon Film Distribution have put together this new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, with extra features (more on that below) and a rather snazzy cover to fit the stylistics. While you probably have quotes from Austin in your life, or hear his voice in the ether, there’s obviously those who haven’t seen it yet and so…. Here’s an initial summary:
Initially set in 1967, the playboy-cum-super agent Austin Powers (Mike Myers) is just about to stop his arch enemy Dr Evil (Myers as well), when the wicked genius has himself cryogenically frozen and rockets off into deep space in his ‘Big Boy’ rocket. Because of reasons, Powers is also frozen, so he can reawaken if Dr Evil ever returns to Earth and – lo and behold – he does thirty years later, so then Austin is also thawed and ready to take on his nemesis.
But, of course, it’s 1997, and Powers is used to the swinging sixties, so can he get used to the world again after a huge culture shock, and in time to take on Dr Evil? Well, he can but he’ll need help! This comes in the shape and style of Vanessa Kensington (Liz Hurley), another agent, and together they’ll find a way to stop Dr Evil’s plan for world domination. As well as Myers and Hurley, there really is an iconic co-starring cast which includes Will Ferrell, Seth Green, Carrie Fisher, Christian Slater, Priscilla Presley and even Burt Bacharach, who all have a little moment (or a song!) in the madness.
Directed by Jay Roach, International Man of Mystery was written by Mike Myers and he plays every spoof-element to the very edge. He takes the classic spy thrillers from the decades that preceded Austin Powers, and most noticeably James Bond at its cheesiest, and pushes every joke and cliché out into the comedy. It’s iconic and ridiculous in equal measure but, you know, they get away with it. Whether this is nostalgia for a simpler time I’m unsure but much like Airplane, Naked Gun and even Monty Python, Mike Myers creations of Austin and Dr Evil are quite timeless.
Thankfully, the film also just stands the test of time and this aforementioned full focus on the spoof is the reason. There will be a few jokes that fall a bit flat, and those definitely come with the second outing for Austin with the likes of Fat Bastard, this first one has a rounded story that doesn’t rely too heavily on extreme characters and any out-of-date ideas drift by quite quickly. The key to the success is of course Myers complete commitment to the character, the opening dance number, the band/song segments that are layered throughout the film between scenes add to the world, and it’s always the better for it.
If you’re asking how ‘English’ is it, as a Brit myself, I wouldn’t really say so but I also don’t care too much – and actually love the obvious California setting, and the fact I find it impossible to hear the name ‘Austin’ without hearing it in Michael York’s posh voice, who plays Basil in another Bond-esque steal. It’d be great to hear from you if you’ve never seen it before or are visiting it for the first time in years because I still think it’s as funny, amusingly stupid and original as it was in 1997. This new release is a welcome time to add it to the collection, or inspire new admirers.
The Blu-ray Special Features give us an Austin and Vanessa character featurette, some B-Roll shots, TV spots and clips, little character soundbites and that great ‘BBC’ song that accompanies the closing credits by Ming Tea – BBC HEAVEN! Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery truly is a lot of fun and the echelons of visual comedy are what makes it a true cult classic.