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THE MASK ($25) is a fun little fantasy/comedy movie with eye popping computer generated special effects, which are certain to knock the socks off most fans. Actually, my favorite aspects of THE MASK are the two big musical numbers, which don’t get the recognition they deserve. It has been a long time since Hollywood did anything that harkened back to its musical/ comedy heyday. THE MASK 2 is supposedly in the works; I hope this film features more of this old style Hollywood entertainment. 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 unnatural powers, which turn him into a living cartoon character. Actually, when Stanley becomes The Mask, he takes on the persona of the kind of deranged character one is likely to find in a Tex Avery cartoon.

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 a beautiful nightclub singer 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. 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 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 Video offers both Letterboxed and pan and scan transfers on this DVD. John R. Leonetti’s spectacular cinematography makes THE MASK one of the absolute best-looking DVDs that I’ve encountered. Even the pan and scan transfer looks good because of his great cinematography. But, since the cinematography is so striking, it is criminal to watch THE MASK in this compromised manor. The pan and scan transfer is slightly cropped and lacks balance, but does have excellent color and detail. The Letterboxed transfer is outstanding and reproduces the proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio quite well, and lends a "film like" feeling to the DVD experience. The Letterboxed image is brilliantly detailed and the richly saturated colors jump off the screen without a hint of bleeding. Digital artifacts remained in check throughout the film on both the Letterboxed and pan and scan versions.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix is great. The discrete channels allow sounds to Ping-Pong during the special effects sequences, and they also add depth and presence to the rest of the film. Thanks to the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix, the musical numbers seem as if the musicians were performing live in your viewing room. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround mix, as well as a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus include access to deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies. You can also access the director’s commentary from the interactive menu. Director Chuck Russell’s commentary is quite informative about the film’s production, while his laid back style makes the commentary an enjoyable listening experience.

THE MASK is a great looking and sounding DVD. The movie is a lot of fun and the extras make the disc a terrific value. Absolutely recommended.

All reviews are Copyright 1997 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.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 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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