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review added: 3/30/00



The Mask
Platinum Series - 1994 (1997) - New Line

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

The Mask: Platinum Series Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/B-

Specs and Features

101 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, commentary with director/co-producer Charles Russell, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, cast biographies/filmographies, scene access (31 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (2.0), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned


"It's party time. P-A-R-T-why? Because I gotta!"

The Mask is a film where the total is greater than the sum of its parts. It's very hard to categorize this movie, because it's so many things. It's a comedy, an action movie and even romance, with a healthy dollop of musicality. That being said, if any one of these elements were suddenly deleted, the movie would really suffer.

Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) is an everyday kind of guy -- a banker that leads a quiet and simple life. One night, he stumbles upon a mysterious wooden mask. Stanley is compelled to wear the mask, at which time he transforms into a green-faced, big-toothed creature creatively named The Mask. The Mask is the incarnation of all of Stanley's wildest desires and passions - the ones that he buries deep within himself in his ordinary life. As The Mask, Stanley becomes a wild, romantic and boisterous hero, who is able to get the girl and thwart the bad guys. Problems arise in Edge City, when the mask falls into the hands of the evil Dorian (Peter Greene), a member of the local organized crime syndicate hell-bent on becoming the head honcho in town. In his hands (or, more correctly, on his face), the mask transforms Dorian into an incarnation and amplification of all of his most evil passions and desires. Can Stanley stop the bad guy and save the girl? The girl, by the way, is Cameron Diaz in her first feature film role. She sizzles on screen as Tina Carlyle, the local club dancer and girlfriend of Dorian who just might have a crush on The Mask.

What makes this film work is the fact that it combines so many genres in a most exciting manner. At times the movie feels like a large-scale Broadway production. The sets are very stylized with bold colors and flamboyant dressings. While The Mask might not have a very sophisticated plot, or much in the way of character development, it's a hell of a fun flick. But nothing's perfect. The antics of The Mask get a little grating after a while. The point of the character is to be as outrageous as possible, but it gets a little old. Carrey reverts back and forth between the two characters sporadically throughout the film, so the character of The Mask is offered in relatively small portions. This is a huge redeeming value for this movie. Also, I could have done without the "Cuban Pete" musical number (chapter 21). This number goes on too long, and really does not offer a whole lot to the plot. In fact, I would go as far to say that it interrupts the pace of the movie. That said, The Mask is still a visual feast that entertains.

This non-anamorphic DVD has a generally pleasing picture. Colors are excellent, which is important to a stylized film such as this. There are still several problems with the picture, including too much edge enhancement, some moiré, and an ever so subtle haze that seems to veil the picture. These problems are all very slight. On their own, these would not be a terrible problem, but they all work in tandem to cause a slightly sub-par visual presentation. It sounds worse that it really is. An anamorphic widescreen presentation would have cleared up all these picture anomalies. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack excels at dynamics and spatiality. This 5.1 track makes effective use of the rear channel speakers, and there are plenty of great directional sound effects. There are also ample low frequency effects. This is a reference-quality Dolby Digital soundtrack. For a great example of the soundtrack's spaciousness and dimensional characteristics, check out the opening of the film with the undersea divers - the soundtrack does an excellent job of placing the listener in the ambience of an underwater environment.

The commentary track with director/co-producer Charles Russell is one of the most entertaining I've heard. Russell has plenty to say about the origin and production of The Mask and it's never dull. There are also two deleted scenes that were rightfully deleted.

Overall, The Mask is an entertaining movie, which knocks on the doors of several different genres. While not a terribly sophisticated movie, it's fun to watch. The picture is good for not being anamorphically enhanced, and the soundtrack is exciting and involving. This disc is s-s-s-s-mokin'!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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