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When THE MASK OF ZORRO ($25) first appeared on the screen, it proved itself to be an old style swashbuckler filled with, action, romance, sword fights and humor, as well as offering up some modern trappings. For those not familiar with writer Johnston McCulley’s Robin Hood-like character, Zorro was Don Diego de la Vega, a nobleman who donned a black mask and fought for the Mexican peasants against tyrannical Spanish rule. THE MASK OF ZORRO stars Anthony Hopkins as Don Diego- the black clad hero of the people. In the opening moments of the film, Zorro is captured and imprisoned as the last act of the departing Spanish governor, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson). THE MASK OF ZORRO then flashes forward twenty years to find Don Diego escaping from prison, just as Montero returns with a plan to steal the California territory from Mexico. Of course, with the return of Montero, the Mexican peasantry will need a new protector- a new Zorro. Don Diego quickly stumbles upon an unlikely, but willing pupil for the job.

THE MASK OF ZORRO also stars Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta, a bandit whose exploits, while flamboyant, have been less than successful. Don Diego takes Alejandro under his wing, and gives him rigorous training in the necessary skills required to wear the mask of Zorro. Banderas brings equal measures of bravado and good humor to the role, making this screen Zorro a total winner. The cast of THE MASK OF ZORRO also features the extraordinarily beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones as Elena, the object of the new Zorro's desire and Matthew Letscher as Captain Harrison Love- the new Zorro's adversary. Director Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE) infused THE MASK OF ZORRO with sumptuous visual style, quick pacing and spectacular action sequences that are certain to please genre fans.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE MASK OF ZORRO available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE MASK OF ZORRO features a stunning 1080p presentation that is certain to tickle each and every fan of this delightful movie. Image sharpness, dimensionality and detail are all truly excellent, all the way down to the fine details and texturing. Close ups demonstrate amazing levels of detail. Colors are warm, lush and wonderfully vibrant. Additionally, flesh tones are wonderfully appealing. Blacks are velvety, whites are crisp plus the picture sports smooth contrast and impressive shadow detail. The elements from which THE MASK OF ZORRO has been mastered are virtually free from flaws. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable throughout, which gives the presentation a real organic quality.

THE MASK OF ZORRO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Sound quality is a total WOW! The sound design delivers everything one expects from a big budget action/swashbuckler. Discrete sound effects emanate from all the outlying channels, especially during the big action and sword fighting set pieces. The track is awash with sounds that come from everywhere, and then effortlessly leap around the soundstage. Thanks to the lossless encode fidelity is marvelous for both sound effects and the music. One is certain to be delighted by the clanking of swords that seem to be in the room with the viewer. The bass channel is deep and percussive for gunfire and thundering hoof beats. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is totally understandable. French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Martin Campbell. Next up is Unmasking Zorro, a forty-five minute program that looks at the character’s origins and the making of the feature. A promotional Featurette for THE LEGEND OF ZORRO is also present, as is a Music Video by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena for the song I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You. THE MASK OF ZORRO is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Sony’s MovieIQ feature is available through BD-Live, which provides the viewer access to a continuously updated database of additional information about the film, its cast, crew and soundtrack, as well as other trivia. Bonus Trailers close out the supplements.

THE MASK OF ZORRO is wonderful, old fashioned, swashbuckling entertainment that was produced in the grand scale of modern motion picture technique. The Blu-ray packs a stunning picture and rollicking, first-rate sound. Absolutely recommended.



The Mask of Zorro [Blu-ray] (1998)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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