The Mask DVD Review
PictureThe main reason for the re-release of The Mask on DVD is to coincide with the release of the sequel, The Son of Mask. But obviously they had to do something special with The Mask to make you want to buy it again. What that includes is a new anamorphic transfer and the inclusion of a Dolby Digital EX and DTS 6.1 ES soundtrack as well as some new additional features. Unfortunately, both the image and the sound are not that good.
First off, let me say that the review disc I received had problems. Within the first ten minutes, there are a few incidents of both image blocking and sound dropout. A second review disc was sent and this too displayed the same problems. Now I hope that this fault lies only in this initial check disc production run and will not be present in the copies that are sold to the public but as one of the main selling points is the 'improved' sound and picture, I felt this issue should have been avoided.
The image for the remainder of the movie is also disappointing. There is a high amount of grain visible throughout and colours tend to bleed significantly. I know that the colour saturation in this movie is intentionally high, but the bleeding gives the image a blurred effect and for the entire film the image never really looks that sharp. Black levels are fairly good as is shadow detail although not up to today's standards. As already mentioned, colours are vibrant and vivid but I recommend turning down your colour control to reduce/remove the bleeding that is present.
Some edge enhancement is present and overall the image has a soft, digitised appearance which is not that impressive and this opinion is also backed up by the relatively unimpressive bitrate average of 5.93bps.
SoundWith such impressive stats, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES soundtracks, you may have expected maybe a 9 or a 10 rating for the sound but I'm sorry to say that the sound like the picture is also a little lacklustre. As already mentioned, the first 10 minutes of the movie contains sound dropout but I am hoping this is just an initial test disc problem and will not be present on the actual retail disc but be on the lookout (or listen-out) just in case.
For the remainder of the movie, the sound is not as 'in your face' as both the type of movie that this is and the soundtracks on offer would suggest. The surround channels are desperately inactive for most of the film and LFE is thin and underwhelming too. Thankfully, voices are clear and have good tonal qualities and panning across the front soundstage is sharp and accurate.
Don't get me wrong, this is a good soundtrack. It is just that with the available formats on offer I was expecting a much more dynamic affair which this movie is just crying out for but didn't quite get.
ExtrasA reasonable selection of extras, most noticeable is the lack of recent contributions from both Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz. We have two Deleted Scenes of which the first is titled Alternate Opening and is a scene showing the Norse Mythology history of the mask and how it was brought to America. It was deemed to be a little slow and I have to agree. The second is called The Death of Peggy and shows how the reporter, Peggy meets her grisly end in a printing press. It was thought to be too violent and was cut although the Director didn't agree.
Then we have four documentaries: The first and longest at 25 minutes is titled: Return to Edge City. This covers all aspects of the making of this movie and is the usual compilation of interviews, movie clips, behind the scenes footage and pats on the backs of the lead actors. A few of the areas covered are also repeated in some of the other documentaries which is a little annoying but overall a very interesting insight into The Mask.
The second documentary is called: Introducing Cameron Diaz and looks at how the makers searched high and low for an actress to fill one of the most important roles next to Carrey's and how they finally met Cameron Diaz, then a model, quite by chance and knew she was the one for the part. This documentary would have benefited from the inclusion of interviews with Cameron herself, but unfortunately there is just brief footage of her screen tests and clips from the movie plus interviews with the director, the casting director and other members of the production team.
The third documentary is called: Cartoon Logic. This looks at the style of the animation and how the Warner Brother Animator, Tex Avery influenced the look of The Mask considerably as well as the crazy antics of the characters. It also shows how they blended the CGI with the live action and how ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) was the natural choice to carry out the work.
What makes Fido Run, the next featurette, covers the use of animals in this and other movies and how they are trained to perform the incredible stunts and tricks that they do.
Next we have two Audio Commentaries. The first is an all new affair featuring the director, Chuck Russell, New Line Chairman, Bob Shaye, Writer, Mike Werb, Animation Supervisor, Tom Bertino, Cinematographer, John Leonetti, ILM Visual Effects man, Scott Squires and Executive Producer, Bob Engleman...Phew! This one is definitely my favourite of the two and is one of the most entertaining Audio Commentaries I've ever heard. Great. The second is the original commentary by director, Chuck Russell on his own and is still very interesting and amusing but not quite as good as the first.
The extras are finished off with the Theatrical Trailer.
VerdictThe Mask is a great movie which stands the test of time very well. On its release, it offered a unique take on moviemaking which even today still seems refreshingly different. But credit where credit is due and The Mask is lifted from being a good film to being a great one by Mr Jim Carrey who really was made for this role. You just know that half the quick fire gags you hear where never scripted but straight out of his brilliantly funny mind and that kind of comedy and that kind of acting is hard to come by.
Oh and Cameron Diaz has never looked better!!
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