The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne Movie Review

The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Fake Like the Mask

The Musketeers have now separated with Aramis (Jeremy Irons) becoming a man of the cloth and D'Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) head of the King's guard but they are still in touch especially as there is plenty of unrest in France thanks to King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) who cares more for bedding women than his people. When Raoul (Peter Sarsgaard) the son of Athos (John Malkovich) is killed serving in the army because the King wanted him out of the way as he made a move on his girlfriend it enrages Athos, Porthos and Aramis who set about getting rid of the King by rescuing Philippe, the secret twin of the king who has been kept hidden all his life and in an iron mask for the past 6 years. The only trouble is will D'Artagnan join with his old friends or remain loyal to the king.

My first brush with the story of "The Man in the Iron Mask" came some time in the 80s when I watched the 1977 movie starring Richard Chamberlain. I remember little of that movie and then I watched the 1998 version of the Alexandre Dumas père novel which at the time entertained yet ironically more than a decade later I barely remembered any of it. I know why when it comes to the 1998 version I remember little and that because it was a movie all about the look rather than the story and whilst visually appealing it fails to do justice to the story.

Judith Godrèche in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Look I am going to get right to the point and that is not that this is a Leonardo DiCaprio movie but it is a Hollywood movie which tries to be a jack of all trades. So we have some comedy as a non performing Porthos tries to hang himself which gives us Gérard Depardieu walking butt naked in to a barn to hang himself which just isn't funny. We also have some drama as the musketeers rescue Philippe and we have them remove his mask. We also get action as there are those trying to kill the king but it is all incredibly bitty and lacking the impact it is aiming for. It feels like someone took the script, highlighted all the best scenes which would have a visual impact and then discarded almost everything else leading it to almost leap from one big scene to another.

If this is a case then it has a negative knock on effect as it makes it a movie seemingly made to play to those who fell for Leonardo DiCaprio after his performance in "Titanic". It is in fact a shame if this is the case because at times DiCaprio delivers a good performance but far too often it becomes all about his pretty boy looks rather than his character. It is the same with the rest of the cast as there is a lot of talent in "The Man in the Iron Mask" but far too often a scene ends up dominated by the look rather than what is going on in that scene.

What this all boils down to is that "The Man in the Iron Mask" probably appeals to those who have been fans of DiCaprio since he appeared in "Titanic". But it is a movie where the look is more important than the story and the character depth.