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Adapted from Dark Horse Comic series, THE MASK ($29) was the film that marked the transition of Jim Carrey from popular television comic, to a bankable movie star who could appeal to both audiences and critics alike. In THE MASK, Carrey stars 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. Director Chuck Russell even acknowledges his homage to Avery with Stanley watching one of his cartoons as part of the movie.

During the course of the film, the character of 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 nice 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 Police Lieutenant Kellaway, The Mask’s nemesis, into something genuinely amusing and totally 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 Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Certainly, the 1080p presentation marks a significant upgrade over the SD DVD release, but does not come across as the revelation some may have been expecting. THE MASK is fifteen years old, and therefore, doesn’t looks like the latest blockbuster coming out of the multiplex. Image sharpness and detail are good, but the some of the fine detail one would expect, appears to have been homogenized out of the picture through digital manipulation. Colors are generally vibrant and, in places, suitably cartoony. Some moments the hues are a bit more subdued, but flesh tones are realistic. Blacks are pretty accurate; whites appear stable, while contrast is smooth. The elements from which THE MASK has been mastered are quite clean. Grain seems quite minimal for a film of this vintage, and the lack thereof would constitute another sign of digital manipulation.

THE MASK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Sonically, the Blu-ray provides a nice upgrade over the DVD release in terms of fidelity. The sound design really kicks to life at key moments, but tends to be quite subdued during the talky passages. Musical numbers tend to shine above everything else- Cuban Pete is a hoot. The bass channel keeps the effects fully grounded. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English and German subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, most of which have been duplicated from the DVD release. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first with director Chuck Russell and comes from the original DVD release, while the second features Chuck 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. Featurettes include: 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, as well as a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplemental materials.

THE MASK remains a fun live action cartoon showcases a younger Jim Carrey doing what he does best. The Blu-ray presentation is quite good, but a bit too much digital smoothing has resulted in less fine detail than there should be in the image.



The Mask [Blu-ray] (1994)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 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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