The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Written and Directed by Randall Wallace, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons, Gerard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne

My Advice: Matinee.

Well, the good news is that this makes the last Three Musketeers movie -- you know the one with Sutherland, Sheen and company -- look like the schlock crap it was.  One big advantage this film has -- now brace yourselves -- some of the actors actually speak with French accents!  One of the leads -- is French!  Holy crispy crap!  But enough with the comparisons.  First of all, the four musketeers (don't forget D'Artagnan) are excellently acted by this DreamCast.  Malkovich gives Athos that pathos he does so well and Irons' Aramis plays a great foil to Depardieu's depressed (and slightly flaccid) Porthos.  Other than The Lion King, I don't think Irons has been in a comedy per se, but his timing is excellent and I wish he would hop on board a deserving project.  All of that said and done, however, the real stand-out among the four is Byrne's D'Artagnan, who is torn between serving his king and serving his conscience and love.  When another character says of him, "All my life, all I ever wanted to be...was him," you believe it.  Now, the downsides.  First and foremost, take Nick Glennie-Smith, who was in charge of the music, take him out and shoot him.  I can't remember the last time I heard a soundtrack that was this bombastic, overbearing and useless.  Second, DiCaprio needs some warmup time before he appears to be actually acting.  It's only when the good twin arrives on the scene (and that can't be a spoiler at this stage of the game, right?  The book is how old?) that the bad twin seems to get his own life.  Regardless, the picture is definitely worth seeing to show that a real swashbuckling film can work in these modern times and with these modern studios...

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