Sony has re-issued The Mask of Zorro in attractive steelbook packaging and updated the transfer to now include Dolby Vision HDR.
The Production: 4/5
The Mask of Zorro is a throwback to the swashbuckling matinee serials from the 1950s, a film with a definite sense of fun, and as the late Roger Ebert noted in his review upon its initial theatrical release in 1998, a sense of honor. As war between Mexico and the United States is keeping Santa Anna pre-occupied, previously ousted and returning Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) hatches a plan to buy California from Mexico using gold he is mining from the state using slave labor. Twenty years earlier, Montero was just as vile yet always under attack from Zorro, the defender of the people. When Montero discovers Zorro’s true identity is none other than Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins), he accidentally kills de la Vega’s wife (whom he had romantic interests in), abducts their baby daughter Elena, burns the estate to the ground, and throws de la Vega in prison. When Montero returns, de la Vega escapes from prison and runs into Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a thief who just witnessed the murder of his brother by U.S. Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher), who is in cahoots with Montero. With a common enemy, de la Vega takes Alejandro under his wing to train him as the next Zorro, hoping to rid California of Montero once and for all and reunite him with his grown daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who believes Montero to be her real father.
Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment had been trying to get a Zorro movie off the ground for years. Robert Rodriguez was one of the first directors attached to the project, and that is likely how Antonio Banderas became attached as Zorro (the two had made a few movies together at that point). Although Rodriguez would leave the project before the start of production, Banderas would prove to be an excellent choice for the masked swashbuckler with his then-recent experience with action films and knack for comedy. Prior to The Mask of Zorro, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ biggest role was in the little-seen comic-book caper The Phantom, and it was her role as Elena that launched her career as a leading lady as she stood her own against Banderas while also displaying on-screen chemistry with the actor. Anthony Hopkins is good as always as the father figure vying for vengeance while training a new recruit. Director Martin Campbell, having just rebooted the James Bond franchise with GoldenEye, was also a good choice as director, giving the action scenes some real flair while also paying homage to many of the Zorro movies that came before. Screenwriters Ted Elliott & Terry Rosio (Shrek, Disney’s animated Aladdin) infuse the story with humor, with their script laying the groundwork for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies they would write five years later. The real treat, though, is James Horner’s Spanish-influenced score, using flamenco dance steps as a musical instrument.
3D Rating: NA
Sony previously released The Mask of Zorro on 4K UHD Blu-ray on May 5, 2020 with only HDR10 high dynamic range. At that time, discs were not available to Home Theater Forum for review due to the COVID pandemic shutdown, so this is my first chance to dig into a disc release of this fan-favorite film (I reviewed the 4K digital release three years ago). The studio has been returning to many of their former 4K UHD disc releases that did not include Dolby Vision and re-issuing them in steelbook packaging. I am going to assume that this is essentially the same master used for the 4K disc and 4K digital release from three years ago, and it is still a stellar transfer. Detail is excellent, from the individual threads in the canvas of the tent in the opening shot to facial features and even that opening prologue text that I no longer feel eye-strain from attempting to read it. Colors are much more natural and vivid thanks to Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range. Contrast is greatly improved as well, highlighting the textures on Zorro’s black costume and providing deep blacks with no evidence of crushing and bright whites without blooming. If anything, Dolby Vision does provide a slight improvement with brighter highlights and better shadow detail over HDR10, especially skylines where clouds are much more distinguishable on Dolby Vision-enabled displays. For those hoping to a remastered Blu-ray with this release, I am sorry to report that the same 2009 Blu-ray release has been included, again.
The default Dolby Atmos track (backwards compatible with Dolby TrueHD 7.1) is magnificent, providing a slightly wider front soundstage, but also providing a much more immersive experience with atmospheric effects like thunder rumbling from above. Crowd noises and James Horner’s score often fill out the surrounds, with several instances of discrete voices and other sounds travelling rather seamlessly. LFE is strong, accentuating explosions and the like. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. Sony has included the original 5.1 mix in DTS-HD MA.
Special Features: 2/5
Nothing really new here. This release contains the exact same extras as the 2020 UHD disc release.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 8:57): Ten scenes, previously unavailable, have been included – Scene 50: Into the Dungeon; Scene 66: Pay a Visit to Santa Anna; Scene 76: Trinkets; Scene 105: More Champagne; Scene 113: A Sultry Dance (Alternate Cut); Scene 115: You Should Have Told Me; Scene 134: In Pursuit of the Map; Scene 151: Searching for Zorro; Scene 159: Is That Man My Father?; and Scene 159 (Original).
Trailers (1080p): Teaser Trailer 1 (1:16), Teaser Trailer 2 (1:46) and Theatrical Trailer (3:09)
Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell
Unmasking Zorro (480i; 45:05): The original “making-of” featurette from the movie’s DVD release.
Original Deleted Scenes (480i; 4:50): Two scenes are included – The Wallet and The Resolution.
I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You Music Video (480i; 4:51)
The Legend of Zorro Behind the Scenes Sneak Peek (480i; 5:02)
Exclusive Scene for The Legend of Zorro (480i; 1:45)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere.
Sony has re-issued The Mask of Zorro in attractive steelbook packaging and updated the transfer to now include Dolby Vision HDR. Other than that, the release is identical to the 2020 UHD disc release.
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