Remember all those old movies where the swashbuckling hero swoops down to the rescue and saves the day for one and all, defeating the enemies and getting the girl all within a few hours’ entertainment? “The Mask of Zorro” is a testament to those movies, embodying all of these characteristics in its magnificent story and exhilarating action sequences. With a powerhouse cast that seems as if they were born to play the parts they play, as well as strong music and a solid story, Zorro once again rises from Hollywood deterioration to save the day in a movie that is good, old-fashioned fun from beginning to end!
The old Zorro legend is given a new twist with this film, which begins with Don Diego de la Vega, the original and legendary Zorro, saving a group of prisoners from execution in the town square and leaving his mark on his nemesis, Don Raphael, warning him to leave and never return. Raphael does leave, but not before killing de la Vega’s wife and taking his child, also having him imprisoned. Many years later, Raphael returns, “daughter” in tow, to name himself the new governer and to make sure his past enemy is all but alive in his prison. Through extreme craftiness and cunning, de la Vega escapes, only to discover his life is no longer what it once was.
His venture into the public brings him to the attention of one Alejandro Murrieta, who quarrels with him in the marketplace and then resolves himself to friendship. The two do share a past: on the day of Zorro’s last battle, Alejandro, along with his brother, saved him from death. Now, Alejandro is distraught and torn with revenge for Captain Harrison Love, the murderer of his brother, and agrees to take on the mask once worn by de la Vega, who in turn will teach him the art of fighting with honor and grace.
The movie is one of those tributes to the old movies of the past, which played out the story of a hero who won all the goods and the girl in the ending. This one admittedly involves a few more characters than those old movies, but that’s not to say that they don’t each play a special part in the advancement of the movie. The romance, epic scale, action sequences and extreme wit are all present, making this a very exciting and memorable movie experience.
The advancement of the plot lies within the external battle between Raphael and our two heroes, who devise plan after plan to bring him to his downfall. They discover that he has made plans of tricking Santa Anna out of his own land, thus setting the stage for the impending climax which pits good against evil. The characters are all given the chance to become complex and intelligent, which is important in a movie like this. As they begin to outmatch one another, this adds on to the movie’s tension over who will win out in the end.
The settings and music have a vast effect on the look and feel of this movie, which takes place in the 19th century. The sets are full of artistic influences from Spanish backgrounds and artists, giving it the true look and feel of the time period. Costume design also adds to the grandeur and pomp of the aristocracy as well as the impoverished conditions of the poor, adding to the contrast between the two differing demographics. The music, composed by James Horner, is amazing, employing Spanish instruments and rhythms while keeping a mordern feel to its score as well. The music adds a lot of heart to the movie, bringing out the intensity, the romance, the passion, and the victories with stylish and rousing compositions that fit right into the entire picture.
The choreography and stunts for this film are what really make it work for the audience, dazzling us with some of the most effective swordplay ever acted out on film. Most of the battle scenes involve men with swords, fighting against one another with an honorable form of battle. Actors Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson and Matt Letscher all hit the swordplay as if they are prose, adding believability as well as excitement to these scenes.
The actors mentioned above bring so much to the movie. Banderas is magnificent in his role as Alejandro, the new Zorro, a role he seems destined to have played. His looks, his charm, and his wit and personality all make this Zorro one of the finest ever. Hopkins brings his usual presence to the movie, establishing his character as one of immense wit and intelligence, while also possessing a vast knowledge of the art of fighting. Catherine Zeta-Jones sparkles in her role as Elena, de la Vega’s daughter, and the chemistry between she and Banderas is dazzling and intense. Stuart Wilson and Matt Matt Letscher play our enemies, and they do so with performances to match those of the heroes.
“The Mask of Zorro” is one big piece of fun that works on many different levels. Some will find pleasure in watching the actors work with the material, some will find intrigue in watching the romance unfold, while the…
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This review refers to the Columbia TriStar DVD Dec 2000 release of “The Mask of Zorro”……
You’re a big fan of this Zorro film but don’t want to shell out big bucks? This DVD is for you. Columbia/TriStar’s transfer to DVD is one of the best I’ve seen. There isn’t one detail about it that’s inferior. The picture is presented in beautiful anamorphic widescreen(2.35:1), and shows off the incredible cinematography of the Mexico/California regions. The colors are outstanding. They jump out at you and take your breath away.The sound including the wonderful score, the dialouge and all the swashbuckling action is outstanding in the Dolby Dgigtal 5.1(THX) surround. You can also set it up for 2.0 stereo if you choose.You won’t find a ton a special features, but there is “making of” featurette, with some commentary by cast and crew, that is entertaining and informative.For those who would prefer more on the side of extras and don’t mind paying more, there is a “special edition” release that has lots of goodies including a video, and lots of commentary(see buying info). There is also a “super-bit” version, also more expensive if you choose.(Don’t look for extras there).
The movie is packed with action, adventure, romance, and comedy and drama.It will appeal to you if you love westerns, history, or swashbucklers. The story opens with Zorro(Anthony Hopkins)bounding in to help save the Mexican people from the ruthless Don Rafeal Montero(Stuart Wilson). They have been under Spanish rule and are now about to be free. Montero and Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro have been sworn enemies for years. Montero follows De La Vega back to his home, finds that he is Zorro, a swordfight ensues, Diego’s wife is murdered, his baby girl stolen and he is imprisoned.Montero flees back to Spain and raises the child as his own.
Twenty years later……..Diego learning of Montero’s return, see’s a chance to reclaim his daughter, Elena(the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones) and breaks out of prison. He now trains a younger and stronger man, Alejandro Murietta(Antonio Banderas), to take his place and to help save the people once again from the ruthless Montero.Lots of adventure abounds as they set out to accomplish these feats, and of course lots of romantic adventure as well between Alejandro and Elena.You never knew sword fighting was so much fun and so sexy until you see these two in a duel!
Hopkins is exquiste as the older Zorro, Banderas charming, funny, and handsome as ever,and Zeta-Jones in one of her earliest roles really shines through. Other notables to watch for are L.Q. Jones as “Three-Fingered Jack”, and Pedro Armendariz Jr as Don Pedro. Cinematography by Phil Meheux(The Saint/Goldeneye)is outstanding, Musical score by James Horner brillant as always in giving the perfect feeling to the story, and wonderful direction by Martin Campbell(Vertical Limit/Goldeneye).
Watch for “The Sign of the Z”……..Laurie
For 90 years, many fans of “Zorro” have seen quite a few adaptation of the swashbuckling hero who dons a black mask, cape, clothing and his sword.
From the original books from 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley to the silent films by Douglas Fairbanks and one of my favorites, the 1958-1960 Disney television series starring Guy Williams. But there has been a sort of lull when it came to “Zorro” films and before the 1998 film “The Mask of Zorro”, we were left with the George Hamilton comedy “Zorro, the Gay Blade” in 1981.
But in 1998, producer Steven Spielberg (“Indiana Jones” films, “Schindler’s List”, “E.T.”, “Jurassic Park” films) along with director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”, “Vertical Limit”, “GoldenEye”) began working on a new action film based on the hero for a new generation of moviegoers. Featuring a screenplay by John Eskow (“Air America”, “Pink Cadillac”), Ted Elliott (“National Treasure”and “Pirates of the Carribean” films) and Terry Rossio (“Pirates of the Carribean” films), music by James Horner (“The Spiderwicke Chronicles”, “Troy”, “Enemy at the Gates”) and cinematographer Phil Meheux (“Casino Royale”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, “GoldenEye”).
The film was released in theaters during the Summer of `98 and with a budget of $95 million, the film went on to make over $250 million worldwide and was received positively by critics.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Mask of Zorro” is presented in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio 2:40:1). I was quite pleased with the picture quality of the film as there was pretty good detail on the texture of the Mexican and Spanish clothing, detail of the interiors of Don’s cave hideout and the dirt and grime on the Murrieta boys. A good number of shots were outdoors, so there was a good amount of lighting. Skin tones were natural and you can see Anthony Hopkins blue eyes quite clearly. I tend to get a bit unnerved with some films shot during the 80′s and 90′s because they look a bit waxy but “The Mask of Zorro” looks very good for a 1998 film.
As for audio, the film is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA (and Spanish 5.1). The soundtrack for the film is actually fantastic. For an older film, I was expecting a front and center channel driven soundtrack but “The Mask of Zorro” really takes advantage of the surround and rear surround channels and also some LFE. You hear the crowds clapping all around you during a scene when Montero arrives back to California. Horses galloping and thunder is also well heard. Fighting sequences, gun shots, explosions are really utilized quite well and for the most part, similar to “Air Force One” which is a 90′s film that was given great audio by Sony, the same can be said for “The Mask of Zorro”. The lossless soundtrack is clear, understandable and quite immersive during the action sequences.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
“The Mask of Zorro” comes with the following special features presented in standard definition, English stereo and optional Portuguese or Spanish subtitles:
* movieIQ – With BD-Live, you can obtain information about the film online while watching the film (optional).
* Director’s Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Marc Campbell. Campbell provides insight on each scene and very thorough in his explanation of the talent, the set and more.
* Exclusive Documentary: Unmasking Zorro – (45:05) The making of “The Mask of Zorro” featuring director Martin Campbell, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas and more talking about the film, the history of Zorro, the production and costume design of the film, the music and more.
* Deleted Scenes – (4:50) Featuring two deleted scenes: The Wallet and The Resolution.
* “The Legend of Zorro” Behind-the-Scenes Peek – (5:02) A behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Legend of Zorro” and interviews with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas and director Martin Campbell who talk about reuniting seven years later for the sequel of “The Mask of Zorro”.
* Music Video by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena -(4:51) Music video for “I Spent My Whole Life Loving You” by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena.
* Exclusive Scene from “The Legend of Zorro” – (1:43) A short sneak peek of the 2005 film “Legend of Zorro”.
It actually has been a Zorro month for me during Fall/Winter 2009. Having watched the complete “Zorro” TV series from 1958-1960, I was enchanted by the humor, drama and the action. So, watching “The Mask of Zorro”, I felt that it was perfect timing on my part because the film was almost like a continuation of previous films and even the TV series because you forward to the future in which the hero Don de la Vega is now an older…