Discs Are Rated
The Mask Of Zorro
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 137 minutes
Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine
Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher
Screenplay by John Eskow and Ted Elliott & Terry
Story by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Randall
Directed by Martin Campbell
Features: Theatrical Trailers, Photo Gallery,
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround,English Closed Captions,
English Subtitles, Scene Selections, THX Certified
Come now and let us journey back to the summer of 1998.
Oh, what a summer it was for movies. "Mulan" was a pretty
big success for Disney, "Armageddon" was the smash hit and
"The Mask Of Zorro" feel somewhere in between. While the
film scored big box office, it was backed up with a good
deal of hype and positive buzz. Critics did enjoy it, and
"The Mask Of Zorro" became a fast crowd pleaser. With its
stellar cast, great action and sharp writing, this new breed
of "Zorro" was supposed to start a new franchise for
Columbia/Tristar. Unfortunately, those plans still seem to
be suspended in motion.
So what's the plot of this new Zorro? We begin in
nineteenth century Mexico, where the old Zorro, AKA Don
Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins), was a hero to all
against the evil Montero. However, right before the
liberation of Mexico, Montero learns who Zorro really is and
invades his home. Accidentally killing his wife (who Montero
also loved), Montero kidnaps Diego's daughter (by claiming
her for his own) and holds Don Diego captive. Twenty years
pass, and Don Diego escapes his imprisonment with intent on
reclaiming his daughter and seeks his revenge. Don Diego
soon meets up with Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a
man who did help Diego long ago. Diego agrees to train
Alejandro as the new masked man, where they must stop
Montero from taking total control of California.
"The Mask Of Zorro" is pure popcorn entertainment, and in
my opinion, one of the best of those movies from the 1990s.
I remember there being a good drought a few years ago for a
classic, action adventure movie that used a script and its
characters, plus classic stunts instead of overusing special
effects. But I think what makes "The Mask Of Zorro" succeed
is that it features so many great elements, plus a well
developed and entertaining story and fuses them together.
That's right, this movie is not some usual jumbled mess as
an excuse for cool action sequences, but really has a
magnificent edge to it.
The screenplay, written by John Eskow and Ted Elliott as
well as Terry Rossio (the two a duo who have worked on a
good deal of animation screenplays) is pretty fantastic.
They develop a good sense of the characters, and develop
them and their motives well leading to good tensions and
confrontations. They also know how to have fun with their
writing, creating interesting situations and writing up good
action packed scenes. There's a good balance to what is
written here. They have plot elements, and in between action
scenes, so two different audiences won't be bored very long
during periods of time. But if you like a good story and
good action, then you won't complain at all.
I believe so much of the movie works due to its
charismatic cast who are energetic and have good chemistry
between them. Antonio Banderas was simply born to play
Zorro, capturing the excitement and strength of the fighter.
Not to mention Alejandro is flawed himself, so Banderas
captures the vulnerability as well and the character's
mindset improves as the movie goes along. Anthony Hopkins
brings his usual graceful touch as Don Diego, serving as a
fine and wise mentor to Alejandro. And of course, Catherine
Zeta Jones, in her breakthrough role, is a great love
interest and holds her own.
Yet what all ties it together is Martin Campbell's
astounding direction. The movie lasts over two hours, but it
doesn't feel that long. Besides capturing great shots and
editing the movie well, there's a great flow to it making it
feel fleshed out, developed and it goes along at the right
pace. It never goes too fast but it never drags either. Not
to mention the climatic finale and stunts, which Campbell
seems to have directed with ease. Adding its own flair is
James Horner's memorable, zesty and catchy score that fits
the movie so well. If you've never seen it, it's worth a
look for sure!
The movie is presented in a THX certified 2.35:1
anamorphic widescreen transfer that is quite incredible.
Colors are bold and striking, giving off a mesmerizing
picture with the variety of Spanish-flavored hues to make
this new legend of Zorro come to life. Color saturation is
amazing, while blacks are deep and bold, and detail is
rather fantastic. Now and then there is a blemish or
scratch, but that's a rare case and they are never
distracting. The sharpness of this transfer is amazing, and
while there can be grain, there's so much visual fair it's
not really noticeable. I didn't see any shimmering or noise
either. This is a rather illustrious, though slightly flawed
transfer. Still, there is very little to complain about.
Slight edge enhancement, while the glorious interior and
exterior locations look amazing.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English is included, and
man, this is something you'll want to show your home theater
off with. James Horner's catchy, thrilling and highly
original score is well mixed through the channels, while the
swords clanging and swishing give off a really incredible
effect. The intense finale, crowds cheering, explosions and
big fight scenes really put you directly in the action. .1
LFE is booming, while no sounds are distorted and retain a
good balance. You can hear everything without one element
overpowering the other. English closed captions, English
subtitles and an English Dolby Surround track are also
Not to much... Theatrical Trailers, a decent
Photo Gallery and an okay Featurette. A
special edition is in other regions, and should be making
its way to region one soon.
"The Mask Of Zorro" is wonderful popcorn entertainment.
This DVD delivers reference quality audio and a great
transfer. It's not packed, so do wait out for the upcoming
re-release if you can.
(4.5/5 - NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)