The Mask of Zorro

Dom Robinson reviews

The Mask of Zorro
Distributed by

Columbia TriStar


  • CDR 96102
  • Cert: PG
  • Running time: 132 minutes
  • Year: 1998
  • Pressing: 1999
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 28 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English, German
  • Subtitles: 15 different languages available
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Panavision)
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: DVD 5
  • Price: £19.99
  • Extras : Scene index, Filmographies, US Theatrical Trailer, Music Video,45-minute Featurette, Deleted scene, Director’s Commentary, Photo Gallery,Animated Menus, DVD Preview Trailer Disc


      Martin Campbell

    (Criminal Law, Defenseless, GoldenEye, No Escape)


    Doug Claybourne and David Foster


    John Eskow, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio


    James Horner



    Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro: Antonio Banderas (Assassins, Desperado, Evita, Four Rooms, House of the Spirits, Interview With The Vampire, Labyrinth of Passion, Matador, Philadelphia, Two Much, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)
    Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro: Anthony Hopkins (84 Charing Cross Road, Amistad, August, The Bounty, A Bridge Too Far, Bram Stoker’s Desperate Hours, Dracula, The Edge, The Elephant Man, The Good Father, Great Expectations (1997),Howard’s End, Legends of the Fall, Magic, Meet Joe Black, Nixon, The Remains of the Day, The Road to Wellville, Sense and Sensibility, Shadowlands, Silence of the Lambs, Surviving Picasso, When Eight Bells Toll)
    Elena: Catherine Zeta-Jones (Blue Juice, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, The Haunting of Hill House, The Phantom, Splitting Heirs, TV: The Darling Buds of May)
    Don Rafael Montero: Stuart Wilson (The Age of Innocence, Crossworlds, Death and the Maiden, Enemy of the State, Lethal Weapon 3, The Prisoner of Zenda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
    Captain Harrison Love: Matt Letscher

The Mask of Zorrobegins twenty years before our intrepid hero is unleashed to swashbucklehis way through life – slashing a ‘Z’ wherever takes his fancy – and capturethe hearts of the ladies after being trained by his master.

Back in his heyday, the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) hadit all – a beautiful wife, a newborn daughter and the adoration of his fans ashe ensured that good won over evil and he was able to make the Tony Blair of hisday, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson, who you may remember as the badguy from Lethal Weapon 3), look like a complete chump by showing themthe error of their ways in spectacular and patriotic fashion.

Like all proper bad guys though, they don’t take too kindly to being shown upin public and usually respond by promising nothing but instant death, or at apinch, a long spell in incarcaration. This one throws all his weight behind itand pulls off a triple whammy – his wife is murdered in front of him, hisbaby Elena is taken away and Zorro himself is confined to a dingy, disease-riddencell with scumbags aplenty for the next twenty years.

Elsewhere in the land after this time, Alejandro Murrieta (AntonioBanderas) and his brother Joaquin are also on the run from the law, gettingthe backs up of the local infantry, led by Captain Harrison Love (MattLetscher). As they escape, Joaquin bravely (or stupidly in my opinion,since he was only shot in the leg and just gives up after that, the pansy)sacrifices his own life so that Alejandro may live.

To cut a long story short – and I’ll let you find out for yourself how thenew Zorro was identified by the old Zorro as a result of their first, chancemeeting – Don Diego gets out of the prison after a ridiculous spoof of Spartacusand trains up Alejandro as his replacement. Montero shows his face again andproclaims the beautiful young girl on his arm to be none other than hisdaughter… but she’s called Elena. Hang on, you don’t think…? Surely not?Yes, it’s the baby twenty years on and how she’s grown up! She looks exactlylike the Welsh rarebit Catherine Zeta-Jones.

How long do you think it will be before the old good guy whips the ass ofthe old bad guy and the young good guy cans the man who killed his brother?About 132 minutes according to the back of the box, as swordfight followsexplosion follows swordfight, including a funny scene where the new Zorro”undresses” Elena with a flick of his wrist (oo-er, missus!)

Oh, and don’t forget the plot-changing moment when Elena instantly doubtsher father’s origins when she meets an apparently mad woman who insists shewas her nanny all those years ago.

The picture isn’t perfect, with artifacts being visible on occasion, butthe explosions are bright and colourful – often sounding like the roar of alion (!) – and this is backed up with authentic set and costume design.The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio – unlike the so-called”widescreen” presentations doing the rounds on SkyDigital’s Widescreen Box Office – and is anamorphic.The average bitrate is an above-average 5.3Mb/s, occasionally peaking above 7Mb/s.

If the picture isn’t perfect, then the sound eclipses it. Dialogue is clearand the action is a surround-sound treat with plenty of stereo-steering to giveyour speakers a workout and an appropriate score from James Horner.It comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 flavours for English and German languages.

Extras : Chapters/Trailer :The usual 28 chapters are applied here and the original US theatrical traileris also included. Languages/Subtitles :Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and German, plus subtitles in FIFTEEN languages :English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, German, Turkish,Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian and Dutch. And there’s more… :Congratulate Columbia UK for producing a disc that easily gets one over onthe American release as it has plenty more extras on board.

Filmographies are available for the four main characters in the film,plus director Martin Campbell, a 14-picture Photo Gallery seesthe big three strike a pose, a deleted scene, “The Wallet” is one ofthe few such scenes I’ve witnessed that actually would’ve benefitted frombeing placed back in the film and the love theme, an emotional and brilliantballad, “I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You”, sung byTina Arena & Mark Anthony, is presented here in music promo form.Alas, the single-buying public didn’t warm to it as it failed to chart insidethe Top 40. You may remember Ms. Arena from the turgid belter, “Chains“.I prefer to remember her from the lilting and infectious, “Sorrento Moon(I Remember)“.

A feature-length Director’s Commentary track is included,as is a documentary, Unmasking Zorro, featuring plenty of behind-the-scenesstory, action and interviews with the cast and crew. However, there is somethingwrong with it that I’m surprised wasn’t picked upon by the VPRC (Video PackagingReview Committee) – it lasts 45 minutes, not the “60” emblazoned on thefront and back. Considering that another Columbia title, Stepmom, hasbeen delayed for months because the front cover dared proclaim that it containedboth widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film, whereas it only wiselycontained the former, was recalled and similarly, Universal’s (nee Polygram)A Life Less Ordinary was rappedfor completely missing the BBFC’s ’15’ certificate off the front cover, I canonly assume the VPRC were having an off-day when this title happened by.

Finally, my copy of Zorro came complete with a “DVD Preview Trailer Disc”sticker on the front and the said disk inside, featuring clips of8mm, Apollo 13, Babe: Pig in the City, Big Daddy, Dr. Strangelove,Ghostbusters, Godzilla, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, The Mask of Zorro,Meet Joe Black, Out of Sight, Patch Adams, Shakespeare in Love, Silverado,Stepmom, Twister and Ivan Reitman talking about the GhostbustersDVD and it’s special features…
…although, as it’s an American promo, he also mentions the 1999 updatedfeaturette which features on the Region 1 DVD, but not the UK offering. D’oh!

Menu :A big improvement on most titles, this one features animation and some briefmusic from the film, but opens first with Banderas doing the business of theslashing-Z variety. The back cover of the box decides to show a picturefrom the Region 1’s static menu though.

I’ve resisted the attempt to make the daft “swashing of buckles” statementoften linked with films like this and I’m not going to start now, partlybecause it doesn’t really deserve it. It’s entertaining in places andwill appeal to kids but attractive sets and stars don’t quite cut themustard when the story is rather dull and formulaic, the bad guys are likecardboard cut-outs and the ending is oh-so predictable.

Aside from that, if you’re going to buy it, note that this version has moreextras than the American release as described above so this version isa more collectable one.

No doubt we shall see a sequel to this film in due course, but I hope theyadd a plot next time.FILM : **PICTURE QUALITY: ****SOUND QUALITY: *****EXTRAS: *****——————————-OVERALL: ****

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2000.


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