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THE MASK OF ZORRO ($30) is an old style swashbuckler filled with, action, romance, sword fights and humor. For those not familiar with the Robin Hood-like character, Zorro was Don Diego de la Vega, 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 and worthy of a sequel or two. 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) infuses THE MASK OF ZORRO with sumptuous visual style, quick pacing and spectacular action sequences that are certain to please genre fans.

THE MASK OF ZORRO maintains Columbia TriStar Home Video's reputation of producing spectacular looking and sounding DVDs- it’s just a phenomenal disc. Dual layer technology has been utilized to handle the film's extended running time and supplementary features. THE MASK OF ZORRO is presented wide screen only and the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 aspect ratio televisions. I was blown away by the spectacular Letterbox transfer which almost perfectly recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical framing. The transfer has astounding image quality; everything is razor sharp and richly detailed. Colors are perfectly reproduced and the highly saturated hues don't show a trace of chroma noise. Hot colors are especially clean looking. Digital compression artifacts are well disguised by top notch DVD authoring.

Look out for the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack- it is certain to blow the roof off your house. This is the perfect track for anyone who wants to put their sound system through a workout. The mix is very aggressive, utilizing all of the discrete channels to create an open soundstage across the front, with split surrounds that give immediacy to the environment. Dialogue reproduces with maximum fidelity and the bass is certain to put your subwoofer through its paces. A matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack and English subtitles have also been encoded into the DVD.

The interactive menus have a simple, but nice design and allow access to a theatrical trailer, a photo gallery and a "Making Of" featurette.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has delivered another stellar DVD; both sound and image are of the highest caliber. Additionally, THE MASK OF ZORRO is thoroughly enjoyable entertainment. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 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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