review for The Man in the Iron Mask on AllMovie

The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
by Derek Armstrong review

The Man in the Iron Mask had the great fortune of hitting theaters a mere three months after Titanic transformed Leonardo Di Caprio into a celluloid god, capable of choosing from any film project in development. But it still barely scraped up $50 million at the box office, probably because it cast Leo in the decidedly un-Jack roles of weaselling pubescent King Louis XIV, a true creep, and his twin brother Philippe, who spends years clamped into an iron mask (which, miraculously, does nothing to hurt his complexion). It's a strange choice for Di Caprio, even when not viewed as a follow-up to Titanic, which it wasn't; Di Caprio has been known for his offbeat indie choices (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Basketball Diaries) both before and after his outing on the doomed oceanliner. It's a given that The Man in the Iron Mask has no ambitions toward high art, but it ends up being rather lackluster escapism as well -- yet another retelling of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers, but set in their later years and featuring the aging swashbucklers' attempt to replace the vicious Louis with Philippe, the throne's rightful heir. It's more soap opera than swordplay epic, with few actors seeming to relish their roles. There's much more melodramatic soul-searching than clashing of sabers.