The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

I was only seven years old when this movie came out so I can tell you I did NOT see it in theaters. That is, if it ever was on the big screen. Nevertheless, I have seen it a few times but never in its entirety… until now.

The movie isn’t horrible, but it isn’t great either. One thing I did notice while watching it is even though it is supposed to feel like a serious movie, everything is way to colorful and bright. Maybe it is just the typical late 90’s camera work and editing but I am not certain just yet. Everything just seems too colorful, pronounced, and highly saturated.

Scenery wise, like I said before, it is bright and colorful, and nothing seems gloomy even though France is going through a period of despair. Watching this makes me think of Marie Antoinette and the legacy we know about her. Mostly in part to Louis XIV’s attitude towards his people yet everything looks fine. He even orders an advisor executed for following his own order.

The story is loosely based on some historical facts, but it also gets history wrong about Louis XIV. I won’t go into those details, but it just seems like a fanciful tale about how someone thought Louis XIV’s reign should have been. People are always trying to rewrite history…

This movie is probably one of the better ‘Three Musketeers’ films even though it isn’t titled as one. To me, at least, I always thought this was the ‘Three Musketeers’ or at least it is the film I always equate with the term. It could be a personal bias since I grew up watching this film and reading fairy tales.

D’Artagnan is probably the most interesting, if not the best character in the movie. He lives a secret life which is explained by the end of the film and struggles internally between his loyalty to a horrible king and his friend’s plot. Louis/Philippe’s interactions are awkward to say the least and the other musketeers don’t stray much from their initial character. One is a plotter against the king, another is a drunk, and the third seeks revenge for the death of his son. They even show us the son getting killed and it probably could have been cut out and would have no effect on the movie in its entirety. The acting could have been a bit better to make some of the scenes a bit more believable.

There are some moments which may get your emotions going, at least they did for me. Mainly the fight scene. Otherwise, I was rolling my eyes at the romance scenes. They seemed overly cheesy and non-creative. A seductive king and a girl burdened with the loss of her genuine love. Louis XIV was a bit too forward and just felt like an entitled brat.

To be honest, it is a three-star movie. The best part is the last twenty minutes or so when they fight and take down Louis XIV. Historically it is a flop and it doesn’t feel like the tone is set right with the imagery. This should have been a serious movie yet at times its looks like a comedy (doesn’t have any real funny moments). If you haven’t seen this twenty something year old film then I would say give it a watch one night. If you’re like me, you’ve probably watched it growing up and following Leonardo DiCaprio after Titanic.

I can’t put my finger on it, but something just put this movie right in between good and bad. I can always watch it if I see it on TV, but I don’t see myself going out of my way to do so.


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