The opening shots of "The Mask" look like they were salvaged from a desperately low-budget 1950s science fiction movie. Marine salvage operations lead to the rupture of ancient chest that has rested for ages on the bottom of the bay, and a curious wooden mask floats to the surface.
Not long after, disconsolate bank teller Stanley Ipkiss, a genial nerd played by Jim Carrey, is staring into the dark waters and contemplating suicide. He has just been bounced from a nightclub - the latest in a long series of humiliations. But he has a good heart, and when he sees the mask floating with some rubbish, he thinks it is a drowning victim and jumps in to save it.
All he brings to shore is the mask. But when, later that night . . .
Transformation scenes are of course the soul of comic book fiction. Billy Batson shouts "Shazam!", Clark Kent darts into a phone booth, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, and in every case an insignificant wimp becomes a superhero. No wonder adolescent boys respond to these stories so powerfully.