Best Movies of All Time + Randall Wallace



The Man in the Iron Mask is a 1998 action film directed by Randall Wallace. It has been called a very loose adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Vicomte de Bragelonne, the second sequel to the famed The Three Musketeers. This film follows a plot by everyone's favorite musketeers: Aramis (Jeremy Irons), Athos (John Malkovich) and Porthos (Gérard Depardieu). These aging soldiers have major issues with how the current king, King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio), is treating the people of France. The three men decide to take action by finding a prisoner encased in an iron mask to replace the king on his throne. This prisoner (also played by DiCaprio) serves well because he is the unknowing twin brother of the current king. However, one man truly stands in their way: D'Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne), who was once the fourth musketeer in their small group. So the story essentially becomes a battle between the two sides, each of which is either trying to start or prevent a chance in the country's kingship.

If the previous synopsis seemed a little bit convoluted, then you'd be hitting the nail on the head. It's not that the storyline is hard to follow - in fact, it's a little too simplistic. Rather, it's just not very good. I felt like it was entirely predictable. You'd be hard pressed to think that the film would end in a way other than it does, and that doesn't necessarily bode well for this particular film. However, the biggest problem with the film (and I blame the screenplay) is that it never truly pulls you into the story. The Man in the Iron Mask is a film you can watch while working on other things. It's the perfect multi-task flick because you can be working on something else and still know exactly what's going on in the film. For some, this is a good thing because they won't miss any major plot details. In terms of a film's effectiveness, however, there's no hook. That's not a good thing.

I also had some issue with the level of acting in the movie. While no one is downright awful - save Judith Godrèche, who plays King Louis' love interest throughout the film - there's really nobody that's terribly good, either. If anyone is standing above the rest, it's Irons, who I found to be the most believable. Byrne is also very good, but his blank stares kinda killed it a little bit. My biggest issues, however, were with the actors who couldn't even manage to deliver even a hint of an accent. Whereas most of the cast, as well as all supporting and nameless characters, had some sort of accent (it was supposed to be something like French, but anything that didn't sound "American" was a plus for me in this movie), a few of our big names couldn't bring anything like that to the table. For starters, DiCaprio was totally out of his element. I feel like it was too early in his career to delve into a film where he would play dual roles, especially if he couldn't give either character an accent. Shouldn't the King of France sound French? Malkovich also does nothing different with his voice, and that probably annoyed me the most, considering he's a phenomenal actor who's usually so dedicated to his craft. And even though he only plays a minor role early in the film, Peter Sarsgaard doesn't give us an accent. I know I'm nit-picking, but you've gotta be better than that, guys. Seriously.

Oh, and I'd also like to mention that we get a Hugh Laurie sighting in the film. He's not an important role, by any means, but I suppose it's worth mention that "House" did do films before becoming a full-time, certified doctor.

Overall, The Man in the Iron Mask is a tad bit on the boring side, and although you can watch it while working on other things, it still may not be worth your time. Nothing's really adding up to anything of quality, which really is sad considering the caliber of actor we're presented. It's all just too bad.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: D
1.5 Thumbs Down

1998, action, Gabriel Byrne, Gérard Depardieu, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Judith Godrèche, Leonardo DiCaprio, Man in the Iron Mask, movie review, Peter Sarsgaard, and more:

Relevant to: THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK + Randall Wallace