The Man in the Iron Mask
Director: Randall Wallace
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerald Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne
Released: March 13, 1998
Like The Count of Monte Cristo, this movie is also an adaptation of an Alexander Dumas novel. Even though there are some similarities, I liked Monte Cristo a lot better. In The Man in the Iron Mask, King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) rules France as a total jerk. He is pompous, sleeps with many women, and only cares what he looks like as he's always pawing at his locks and wearing fancy silk frocks. (Ha, that rhymes!) Basically he rules the country like if any of the Jersey Shores idiots were the POTUS. (Ugh). He does not care about anybody but himself.
Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gerald Depardieu play the Three Musketeers (another Dumas-penned story) - Aramis, Athos, and Porthos, respectively. Athos has a son who is engaged to be married to a woman that Louis decides he wants for his own and has him sent to battle where he is killed. Louis then takes Christie into his home...and his bed! Seriously, he sleeps with her, like, the next day!
The King does some more appalling things and the Musketeers decides it's time to overthrow the little a-hole. Aramis has the perfect plan. He knows that Louis has a twin brother, Phillippe, who has been imprisoned for six years. Louis didn't want the country knowing that he had a brother so he ordered for an iron mask to be made for Phillippe to wear so nobody would ever know his identity. Since it covers his entire head, it's more of a helmet, but The Man in the Iron Helmet just doesn't have the same ring to it. Put anyone in an iron helmet and they're going to look ridiculous. And it does look ridiculous. Just look at him in that picture and tell me it doesn't make you laugh just a little! The Musketeers teach him what he knows to be King, including family history and what to do in social situations and their plan is to lure Louis out of a party, kidnap him, and replace him with Phillippe. There's a few snafus, but by the end of the movie, Phillippe becomes the true King of France without anyone realizing that one brother has been swapped for another.
You would think with such an interesting premise, this movie should work, but it just doesn't. For one thing, even though I thought the mask, er, helmet was ridiculous, you really don't get the sense that Phillippe was wearing it for six years and he seems to accept becoming a King just like that. I don't buy it. They also try to make this movie into too many things: a romance! A comedy! An action picture! If you watch the trailer, they advertise it as all three back to back. It starts out decent enough, telling the general plot of the movie, then it goes into Louis courting his women, then we get a bunch of jokes, then some action shots. It is so bad! The "comedy" portions of this movie is the worst - I did not laugh once. Now I don't think The Count of Monte Cristo is the best movie ever, but compared to this movie, it's a masterpiece.
However, if Leonardo DiCaprio had never been in Paris filming this movie, then I never would have had this "amazing" story to tell. Click the video to hear my "amazing" Leo story!