Austin Powers in Goldmember

He's back, the sexiest spy in movie history - not James Bond but the enigmatic Austin Powers. Austin Powers in Goldmember is the third outing for the intrepid super-spy. This time he faces his arch-nemesis, Dr Evil, and his menagerie of henchmen again. The plot is reaching a stage of irrelevance, as the appeal of an Austin Powers film is the freakish and hilarious characters that crop up.

Dr Evil (Mike Myers) has hatched another fiendish plan to destroy the world. This time he's teamed up with another super villain, Goldmember. Goldmember (Mike Myers) is a disco dancing, Dutch metallurgist whose passion for gold led him to lose his genitals in an unfortunate smelting accident. Goldmember kidnaps Nigel Powers (Micheal Caine) in 1975 as an insurance policy. Nigel Powers is the father of Austin Powers (er...Mike Myers again) and an equally sexy, super-spy. He and Austin have always had an interpersonal relationship issue.

Austin then travels back to 1975 to save his father from the clutches of Goldmember and teams up with Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles). Before he knows its Goldmember has taken his father to 2002 and met up with Dr Evil.

Now Austin and Foxxy must return to 2002, find the new secret hidden base (another one) of Dr Evil, rescue his father and save the world from not just one, but two mad men.

The appeal of an Austin Powers, as mentioned before, is not the plot but the characters. Some familiar people pop up again, Dr Evil's right-hand man Number 2 (Robert Wagner), Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), Scott Evil (Seth Green) Fat Bastard (Mike Myers again) and everyone's favourite, Mini-me (Verne Troyer - a little type cast really). The new characters include The Mole (Fred Savage from TV's The Wonder Years) as a double agent - with a huge mole on his face.

Performance wise, Myers does a great job again and really personifies whichever character he's playing at the time. His chameleon-like transformations are always top-notch. Dr Evil, Austin Powers and Fat Bastard are all familiar characters but Goldmember is new and just as funny as the others. Knowles, who's more famous as the lead singer of Destiny's Child, is in a very undemanding role with her first foray into films. She is very easy on the eye though, which is important for all leading ladies in Austin Powers films. The surprise performance is Sir Michael Caine as Nigel Powers. After some down right awful comedic turns (see Bulls Eye! - or even better, don't!) he shows that with the right script he's a very funny actor, with excellent comedic timing. With lines such as "I thought I could smell cabbage" when he sees Mini-me for the first time, he's hilarious.

Many A-list cameos make an appearance too, how Mike Myers and director Jay Roach talked them into it is anyone's guess. They include Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny DeVito, Kevin Spacey, Steven Spielberg, Ozzy Osbourne (and family from the highly overrated The Osbournes), Quincy Jones, Brittany Spears, John Travolta and others.

The humour ranges from satire, to slapstick to the good old-fashioned toilet kind. This is the secret of Austin Powers appeal, it covers such a broad range that most people are satisfied and Goldmember is no exception. Some of the jokes are the same as previous Austin Powers films but are kept at a bay with enough new ones or a face-lift at least. For example in a previous Austin Powers film, Dr Evil and Mini-me do a rendition of Will Smiths 'Just The Two Of Us' and this time round they do Jay-z's 'It's A Hard Life' which is still funny. The bickering between Mini-me and Scott Evil for the affections of their 'father' is standout.

The production is grander than previous Austin Powers films as the budget shows. The ending is strange as in just sort of real conclusion. However it still does leave the option for another film, but with a different slant. Mike Myers has said he'll not do another Austin Powers film, but without him the films would just not be. Here's hoping he'll change his mind and bring back the menagerie of characters for another outing in the future. Come Mini-me!!!

SCORE 9/10