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The Man in the Iron Mask
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Three Musketeers adventure film based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas includes some fairly overt sexual references (but little nudity) and violence (but little blood). The womanizing, revenge-driven Musketeers themselves are a mixed bag when it comes to role models, but ultimately the movie does advocate teamwork and honesty. Although the slow-moving story not hold teens' interest, fans of Leonardo DiCaprio may be curious to see the baby-faced heartthrob playing dual roles, both good and evil. Parents can take the opportunity to introduce kids to Dumas' books and some of the Musketeer stories that came before this one.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Decades after the heyday of the Three Musketeers, the heroes have parted ways. Athos (John Malkovich) has raised a son, Raoul, to become a Musketeer himself; Artemis (Jeremy Irons) is a priest; Porthos (Gerard Depardieu) passes the time womanizing and drinking; and their old pal D'Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) serves the cruel, selfish young King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) ... and is secretly in love with the queen (Anne Parillaud). The king's fearsome rule has caused his subjects to riot -- so Artemis reunites the Musketeers to carry about a dangerous plan involving the mysterious prisoner known as the "man in the iron mask,." If they're successful, they could save the entire kingdom.
Is it any good?
It's great fun to see the aging Musketeers in action, and actors Irons, Depardieu, and Malkovich share a wonderful chemistry. But the movie never really focuses on them, and despite their strong charisma, they mostly emerge as supporting characters. The main draw is Leonardo DiCaprio, playing dual roles in his first film after Titanic.
Unfortunately, the younger viewers who want to see him will be disappointed by the movie's slow pace. Director Randall Wallace made his directorial debut here after writing Braveheart, and -- as with all of his other films (We Were Soldiers) -- THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK has a sense of dutiful propriety; it's like Wallace doesn't know how to have fun. The Man in the Iron Mask needed more of a jaunty twinkle, more wolfish grins, less thinking and more doing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's violence? How did it affect you? Is it exciting? Is it gory?
The king uses his power to order women to his bedchambers, while Porthos wins them over with his exuberant attitude. How does the movie depict sex overall? Is there an example of a good relationship in the movie?
When Philippe is released from prison, he shows no interest in vengeance. Is this the right thing to do? Is his behavior rewarded?
Is it better to rule through fear or kindness? Why?
- In theaters: March 13, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: August 12, 1998
- Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Leonardo DiCaprio
- Director: Randall Wallace
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence and some sensuality/nudity
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