Paris is starving, but the King of France is more interested in money and bedding women. When a young soldier dies for the sake of a shag, Aramis, Athos and Porthos band together with a plan to replace the king. Unknown to many, there is a 2nd king, a twin, hidden at birth, then imprisoned for 6 years behind an iron mask. All that remains now is D’Artagnan, will he stand against his long time friends, or do what is best for his country?
User Reviews: Leonardo DiCaprio is "The Man in the Iron Mask" and also King Louis XIV in this re-telling of the famous Dumas story. He is surrounded in a sumptuous production by a stellar cast that includes Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons. The oft-filmed plot concerns the twin brother of the cruel, selfish Louis IV who is guarded loyally by D’Artagnan. Phillipe, the twin, was taken from his mother at birth and once found by the King, imprisoned and placed in an iron mask to hide his identity. When the poverty and the uprisings become too much, Aramis (Irons), who knows of Phillipe’s existence, breaks him out of prison with the help of Porthos (Depardieu) and Athos (Malkovich) with the idea of having him replace Louis at an upcoming masquerade ball. It falls to Athos, who has just lost his son Raoul in war because of Louis’ lust for Raoul’s fiancée, to teach Philippe how to be king in a short time. Things do not go as planned.
This tremendous cast and huge production make for absorbing viewing, different yet as entertaining as the Richard Chamberlain TV version and the Louis Hayward version in the 1930s. Here the emphasis is on the old Musketeers, which works well – Porthos who feels his age and misses the old lusts, the grieving Athos and Aramis, given an impossible job by Louis, which means that Louis must go; and, of course, D’Artagnan, fiercely loyal to his King and insisting that he can be molded into a great ruler, despite evidence to the contrary. The acting is fabulous – there really isn’t a standout among the four men as they are all so good.
Leonardo DiCaprio creates two completely different characters with Louis and Philippe and does an excellent job. Though he was trending toward matinée idol/chick flick territory, he pulled himself out to take on weightier roles – though there’s no doubt this film was meant to bring in the teenagers. And what’s wrong with that – a classic story once in a while won’t kill them.