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Randall Wallace
Leonardo DiCaprio, Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons
Writing Credits:
Randall Wallace

Cruel King Louis XIV of France keeps his twin brother imprisoned. Can the twin be substituted for the real king?

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$17,271,450 on 3101 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $34.93
Release Date: 10/9/2018

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Randall Wallace
• Interview with Producer Paul Hitchcock
• Interview with Production Designer Anthony Pratt
• “Myth and the Musketeers” Featurette
• “Director’s Take” Featurette
• Original 1998 Featurette
• Alternate Mask Prototypes
• Trailer


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


The Man In the Iron Mask [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 24, 2018)

An adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s “Musketeers” novels, 1998’s The Man in the Iron Mask takes us to France circa 1662. King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a life of extravagant excess so great that his expenses drive the country into poverty and starvation.

Unknown to most, Louis has a twin brother, a man kept imprisoned for years. In the face of Louis’s ruinous rule, former royal guards Aramis (Jeremy Irons), Athos (John Malkovich), Porthos (Gérard Depardieu) and D’Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) seek to replace the king with his brother.

After 1997’s Titanic became an era-defining hit, some attempted to explain its success solely due to the appeal of its lead, DiCaprio. This legend claims that Titanic earned more than $2 billion worldwide because teen girls flocked to the theater over and over to ogle their heartthrob.

That was always an idiotic notion, and proof that it didn’t fly came right away via Mask. The film debuted in second place behind Titanic, even though the latter was then in its 13th week of release.

Eventually Mask would earn $56 million in the US and a total of $182 million worldwide, figures that look decent by 1998 standards. Nonetheless, they establish that Titanic’s success didn’t come solely – or mainly – via sales to teen girls, as that potential audience couldn’t do much for Mask.

Perhaps Mask didn’t zing at the box office because it didn’t offer an especially compelling experience. The film earned reviews that one would call mediocre at best, and these seem apt, as it never threatens to take charge of the screen.

DiCaprio eventually turned into a solid actor, but in his youth, he tended toward inconsistency, and he fails to do much with either of his two roles. As Louis, he seems oddly inert, without the devilish charisma the wicked king needs, and as the twin Phillippe, he barely feels different, as the “nice brother” feels oddly similar to the monarch.

Our four musketeers offer more engagement in their underdeveloped roles. Each one gets his own small collection of personality traits, just enough to so we remember the differences but not enough to flesh any of them out in a compelling manner.

Still, these actors at least bring some life to the proceedings. Malkovich maintains a good sense of Athos’s wounded heart, while Byrne displays D’Artagnan’s inner conflict nicely.

The four musketeers can’t redeem the general lethargy of Mask, though, as this feels like a plodding “adventure”. With all the potential battle and intrigue and romance, Mask should crackle on the screen, but instead, it tends to meander and mope on its long way toward its conclusion.

Much of the problem stems from writer/director Randall Wallace’s inability to create any sense of momentum or tension. Given all the stakes involved, the film should tingle with excitement and peril, but those emotions remain in exceedingly short supply.

Instead, Mask plods along across its 132 minutes without much real drama or adventure. It delivers a “point A to point B” narrative that lacks the ambition or urgency it requires to become a winning effort.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Man In the Iron Mask appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became a pretty terrific presentation.

Sharpness was a strength, as the film boasted excellent clarity. Nary a sliver of softness marred this tight, concise presentation. Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects became a distraction.

With a light, natural layer of grain, I didn’t suspect any intrusive use of noise reduction, and edge haloes remained absent. An occasional small speck appeared but most of the film stayed clean.

Mask opted for a warm palette that favored rich reds and ambers, The colors consistently looked appropriate for the film’s design and could stand out as impressive.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while low-light shots offered nice clarity and smoothness. Only the sporadic print flaws made this appealing transfer fall below “A”-level consideration.

While not great, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Mask seemed fine. Speech could be a little reedy, but the lines were intelligible and without edginess or other flaws.

Music showed nice range, and effects came across with fine clarity and impact. Those elements added good zing to the proceedings and lacked distortion.

The soundfield seemed positive, as the music demonstrated good stereo imaging, and the movie took advantage of all its action sequences. All five speakers presented a reasonable amount of information, especially during the livelier scenes.

We didn’t get a ton of combat sequences, but when they arose, they used the spectrum in an involving way that placed the action around the room. This didn’t become the most ambitious track overall, but it worked well for the material.

The disc comes with a mix of extras, and these launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Randall Wallace. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, period details, stunts and action, cinematography and editing, music, and connected topics.

Recorded decades ago, Wallace’s commentary holds up well – except maybe for his reference to Peter Sarsgaard as a “new actor”! Wallace covers a nice array of subjects and gets into his movie well during this informative chat.

Two new features follow, and we get an Interview with Producer Paul Hitchcock. In this 18-minute, 41-second piece, Hitchcock discusses how he came onto the project, cast and performances, production details and various challenges.

Hitchcock brings a good overview of his experiences. He touches – albeit gently – on controversies that greeted him as a “replacement producer” and he makes this a pretty useful discussion.

Also from 2018, an Interview with Production Designer Anthony Pratt lasts eight minutes, nine seconds. Pratt goes over visual choices and aspects of his work. Pratt brings us a quick but engaging program.

The remaining extras carry over from prior releases, and a featurette called Myth and the Musketeers spans seven minutes, 34 seconds. In it, we hear from French Literature Professors Dr. Veronique Flambard-Weisbart and Dr. Marc Lony, Comparative Literature lecturer Dr. Indra Mukhopadhyay, Professor Dr. Mariana Net, and actor Michael York.

“Myth” looks at novelist Alexandre Dumas and his musketeer books. “Myth” seems shorter than I’d like for the subject matter, but it brings a decent array of details.

Director’s Take fills 29 minutes, 11 seconds with notes from Wallace. He talks about the story’s path to the screen and its adaptation, Wallace’s experiences as a first-time director, casting, sets and locations, costumes and mask design, cinematography, and general thoughts.

After a pretty thorough commentary, I feared Wallace wouldn’t have much left to say. Happily, he finds more nuggets to unearth, so he turns this into another involving chat.

Going back to 1998, we find an Original Behind-the-Scenes Featurette. This one occupies four minutes, 45 seconds with Wallace and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne. It’s good to hear from the actors but this remains promotional fluff.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we see a collection of Alternate Mask Prototypes. During this two-minute, one-second reel, we see different mask concepts and hear commentary from Wallace as he describes the decision-making process. Largely due to the director’s remarks, this turns into an informative piece.

Now best-known as Leonardo DiCaprio’s first film released after Titanic, The Man In the Iron Mask delivers a bland affair. Even with dollops of action and intrigue, the film can’t provide any real excitement or drama. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with good audio and Mask never threatens to turn into a bad movie, but it’s a pretty dull one.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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