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Mask, The Print E-mail
Monday, 22 December 2008
Image"The Mask" was released in the summer of 1994 and grossed a healthy $118 million.  The film is fun, entertaining and full of laughs.  Once again, Jim Carrey stars as a funny guy that captures our imagination.  He pulled the hat trick in 1994, starring in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask" and "Dumb and Dumber."  "The Mask" is usually considered to be the second best of the three.  However, I find that it is equal to "Ace Ventura" and far superior to "Dumb and Dumber."  I am usually in the minority on this one, but I stand my ground.

"The Mask" is entertaining and very inventive.  It is based on the comic book series created by Mike Richardson.  Basically, The Mask is a wooden faceplate, which is cursed with the essence of Loki, the Nordic night god – god of mischief.  When put on the face by a mortal, they are endowed with the god's powers.  In the movie, it brings the inner most desires of humans to life.  It removes all inhibitions by the wearer.

Jim Carrey stars as Stanley Ipkiss, a repressed, hopeless romantic banker.  He lets everyone walk all over him and has no mojo with the women.  After a series of unfortunate events, Ipkiss finds the mask of Loki.  He finally puts on the mask and transforms into a kooky character, resembling that of the cartoons that he loves so much.  On his first night he proceeds to rectify all the wrongs that had been committed against him during the day.

The second night consists of him going and spending a night on the town, crashing the Coco Bongo Club.  Enter the seductive Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle.  She had all the men swooning back then for her.  Unfortunately he had robbed the bank in which Ipkiss works in by day in order to pull off his nightly stunts.  Dorian (Peter Greene), is the evil villain of the film.  He hires a group of thugs to rob the bank on the same night.  But the Mask gets there first.  The cops follow the thugs back to the Coco Bongo Club where Dorian is arrested and the lead detective finds pajama evidence of the presence of Stanley Ipkiss. Once Dorian puts a cash prize for the capture of the Mask, it does not take long for Peggy Brandt (Amy Yasbeck) to turn Ipkiss into Dorian.  Once Dorian has possession of the mask he turns Ipkiss over the cops and proceeds with his plan to take over all crime in Edge City.  But of course, Ipkiss escapes from prison and comes top the rescue.  Unfortunately, like "Titanic," "The Mask" succeeds in ending with the prize possession, the mask, being thrown overboard.

"The Mask" comes to Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 aspect ration and a 1080p/VC-1 encode.  It offers only a very slight upgrade over the previously released standard DVD editions.  Sadly, the video is plagued with an enormous amount of digital noise reduction.  For me it is at the point of being unwatchable.  The image is consistently soft, making me feel like I need glasses.  The contrast is decent in the mid and upper range.  However, it is muddy in the lower end of the spectrum.  There are still some details present, but very little.  The background looks like a giant blur.  Even colors are muted, despite the use of bright yellows and steamy reds.  The fleshtones are a bit plugged, which is difficult to tell most of the time due to the soft image.  I would have much preferred to see the film grain if it left textures intact.  Sorry, but it is definitely a disappointment.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The audio is reminiscent of a mid-90s film.  The dialogue is uneven, many times lacking a full-bodied presence.  There were even a couple instances of digital clipping, present on all the releases of the film, but definitely fixable.  The audio is also super compressed.  Even what should be loud spikes due to sound effects, lack any dynamics.  The surround channels mostly contained bleed form the front channels.  There are a couple of discrete effects in the rear channels.  However, across all the channels the panning is clunky.  The LFE channel is not present for the most part.  However, when it is, it is a bit unbalanced as well as lacking the upper range of the bottom end frequencies.  It feels detached form the rest of the audio frequencies.

All the supplements have been ported over from the previous two DVD releases of the film.  All the bonus materials are in widescreen standard definition.  First there is the original audio commentary with director Chuck Russell.  A second audio commentary is present from the second DVD release, with director Chuck Russell, New Line Cinema Co-Chairman Bob Shaye, Writer Mike Werb, Executive Producer Mike Richardson, Producer Bob Engleman, Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Squires, Animation Supervisor Tom Bertino and Cinematographer John Leonetti.  This audio commentary is difficult to follow with so many people in the session.  "Return to Edge City" is a retrospective documentary that offers a few insights.  "Introducing Cameron Diaz" is an overly dramatic featurette that discusses how Cameron Diaz was discovered.  It was far from legendary.  She was simply a model not interested in acting.  "Cartoon Logic" takes a look at the cartoons on which the Jim Carrey's actions are based.  "What Makes Fido Run" is a featurette that examines dog training.  Lastly there are a couple of deleted scenes and a theatrical trailers.

"The Mask" is a great film that has unfortunate not been given the high-definition treatment that it deserves.  Sorry New Line Cinema, but this release does not get my recommendation.  Unfortunately not "Ssssssssmokin'."

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