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.