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(16:9 Enhanced Reissue)

One of the earliest DVD releases to come out of New Line, THE MASK was issued without the benefit of the 16:9 enhancement for widescreen displays. Therefore it has been a title that fans have been eager to have reissued on DVD for roughly eight year. Fortunately, a sequel came along to inspire New Line to revisit THE MASK ($20). THE MASK stars Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss, a somewhat nebbish bank employee, who stumbles across an ancient Norse mask which contains the essence of Loki- the god of mischief. As soon as Stanley puts on the mask, he gains supernatural powers, which pretty much turns him into a living cartoon character. Actually, when Stanley becomes The Mask, he takes on the deranged persona of a character one is likely to find in a Tex Avery cartoon. Of course, director Chuck Russell acknowledges his homage to Avery’s works in his audio commentary. In the course of the film The Mask runs afoul of the police as well as a local crime syndicate. The Mask also charms beautiful nightclub singer Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz) away from her gangster boyfriend.

Carrey actually manages to ingratiate himself with his restrained performance as Stanley, yet he goes completely over the top as The Mask. As The Mask, Carrey performs the kind of physical comedy that the rubber faced comedian has turned into his trademark; of course, in this instance Carrey’s performance is augmented with some rather fine CGI effects. THE MASK also introduced audiences to the incredibly beautiful Cameron Diaz. Diaz acquits herself quite well with her first leading performance, which is both charming and funny. The ever-entertaining Peter Riegert turns the thankless role of The Mask’s police nemesis into something genuinely amusing and memorable. Peter Greene does a reasonably good turn as the primary villain. Amy Yasbeck has a few amusing moments as the reporter trying to get her big break. Of course, the award for best performance in this movie has to go to Max, who plays Stanley’s dog Milo. This dog is utterly amazing; he literally steals the movie out from everyone else. The expressions on this dog’s face are priceless. No wonder WC Fields hated working with dogs.

New Line Home Entertainment has made THE MASK available on DVD in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. For its day, the original transfer of THE MASK was fairly impressive, despite being 16:9 challenged. However, transfers have come a long way in the eight years since THE MASK was initially released. This new transfer is consistently sharper and better defined than its predecessor, with only an occasional errant shot that displays any softness. Color also fare much better on this transfer- consistently eye-popping and wholly stable. Blacks are on the money, whites are crisp and contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is also very good. The film elements used for the transfer appear very clean, and there is little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are very well contained.

THE MASK features terrific 5.1 channel soundtracks in the flavors of Dolby Digital and DTS. The sound mix makes good use of the surround channels during key moments with some action, but the forward soundstage is a bit more dominant, in typical comedy fashion. Fidelity is excellent, which highlights the track’s excellent musical passages and creates convincing sound effects. Dialogue is crisply rendered and always easy to understand. The bass channel is very solid and gets the job done. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, they are slight with the latter having a slight warmer and better-defined sound. A 2.0 stereo surround soundtrack is also provided for anyone who doesn’t have higher end audio playback. Subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice body of supplements. Director Chuck Russell’s commentary from the original DVD is provided here, as is a new commentary featuring additional comments from Russell, as well as New Line’s co-chairman Bob Shaye, writer Mike Werb, executive producer Mike Richardson, producer Bob Engelman, VFX supervisor Scott Squires, animation supervisor Tom Bertino, and cinematographer John Leonetti. In the featurettes department, one will find Return to Edge City, a half hour look back on the movie, Introducing Cameron Diaz, thirteen minutes on the casting of a new star, Cartoon Logic, fourteen minutes on the Tex Avery influence and What Makes Fido Run, a ten-minute look at animal trainer techniques to get performances out of their four legged stars. A couple of deleted scenes and theatrical trailers close out the supplemental materials.

THE MASK remains a fun film and this 16:9 enhanced DVD comes as a much-welcomed upgrade. If you are a fan and have a wide screen display, adding this disc to you collection is a no brainer. Recommended.



The Mask (New Line Platinum Series) (1994)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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