The Mask of Zorro: Steelbook Edition - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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The Mask of Zorro

Movie: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:


The late 90s had two back to back action hits of similar quality in the form of a one-two punch. The second being the incredibly fun The Mummy Brendan Frasier remake, and the first being the unlikely success of Antonio Banderas’s The Mask of Zorro. It’s always hard to do quality remakes of classic characters, but both films pulled off their respective attempts with incredible panache. Classic Western characters are harder to do ever since the fall off of Western film making that was prevalent from the 1930s to the 1970s, but even in 1998 Martin Campbell was able to capture the flair of the old west while adding some modern twists that made it relevant to modern audiences.

Originally written as a set of pulp fiction stories in the 1920s, Zorro was born as a Hispanic western hero living in Mexican owned California back before it was a U.S territory. A rich Spanish Don by the name of Diego de la Vega by day, and masked avenger of the people by night, Zorro (Spanish for “fox”) fought the infamously cruel Don Rafael Montero, Governor of California, for the sake of the oppressed people. The story was later remade into a 1920s film, then a 1940s film starring Tyrone Powers. And finally Disneyfied into the 2 season long Zorro show that introduced most of us to the classic character (Sgt. Garcia being the main reason I watched the series as a kid). Suffer a good 40 year break and Martin Campbell attempts the near impossible. Make another Zorro film for a modern era, yet not have fans eviscerate it at the box office.

The film starts out with an aging Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) once more pulling one over on the villainous Raphael Montera (Stuart Wilson), riding off into the sunset after being helped out by two young orphans. However, Montera has finally figured out who Zorro really is behind that mask, and follows him home to the de la Vega home, where he confronts Diego and his wife Esperanza (Julieta Rosen) with the revelation that he knows the truth. The end result is Diego being shipped off to a Spanish prison in Spain, while Esperanza is accidentally murdered by one of Montera’s men, leaving Montera the opportunity to raise their newborn child as his own.

Fast forward 20 years and we see Montera is now a high ranking Don with a plan to buy California from Santa Anna with Gold out his own territory (shhhh, a devious secret!) and Diego de la Vega has escaped his prison to make his way back to California to seek revenge upon Montera. However, he’s an old man now, and no longer able to don the mask and mark of Zorro, but instead stumbles upon a drunk Alejandro Murrieta ,whom he recognizes as the waif who saved him 20 years ago. Murrieta is grieving the death of his brother at the hands of Lt. Felipe (one of Montera’s soldiers) and is more than willing to take up the mantle and gain his own revenge. Bit by bit, piece by piece, de la Vega rebuilds a new Zorro into his own image, creating the way for a new man to rise as the hero of California, but also be the architect of his very carefully crafted revenge upon the man who stole his daughter (now played by Catherine Zeta Jones) and murdered his wife 20 years ago.

I said it before, but I’m surprised at how well Campbell’s The Mask of Zorro did back in 1998. Not only did it pass on the mantle to someone other than Don de la Vega, but it added a slightly more modern twist to the story itself, putting it some 20 years after the original character’s time line. I thought it wasn’t going to fly, but someone it became one of the best Zorro films of all time. Or at least one of the best action remakes of the THE time. Antonio Banderas was at the peak of his career, being the Latino heart throb that he was, and Catherine Zeta Jones was still stunning audiences. Anthony Hopkins does an incredible job playing an aging de la Vega, and with a wink and a nod to the audience adopts the side kick role of Bernardo (de la Vega’s original helper) with gusto. The action is top notch, and the score perfect for the film. It may not be the single BEST film of all time, but it captured the sheer exhilarating fun and action of the 90s, while still paying respect to a nearly 79 year old legacy of Zorro.


Rated PG-13 for some intense action and violence

4K Video: :5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
I didn’t get the 2020 4K UHD disc from Sony to review that only had HDR10, so I won’t be able to directly compare it to HDR10 only counterpart. Honestly, just going by gut reaction and how the other Dolby Vision enhanced 4K discs that Sony has put out, it will be a minor upgrade overall, but I won’t say anything officially outside of that gut reaction. Either way, compared to the already great looking Blu-ray that Sony put out over a decade ago, this new 4K UHD is stunning. Completely cinematic with a nice layer of grain that is even more visible than the 1080p disc (I actually had to A/B it for a while, but there is a more distinct and pronounced grain structure visible in 2160p, and it looks gorgeous), and very natural in look. No swarming grain, no artificial enhancements, just a great looking film source from the late 90s. Colors really pop in Dolby Vision, and look a lot less garish. The 1080p Blu-ray’s reds are almost neon in their hue, and the overall color grading is pushed into the red territory rather noticeably. The picture isn’t dimmed as I would normally expect from HDR/DV grading, but rather seems SLIGHTLY brighter than the Blu-ray as well. Colors are deep and rich while not being blasted into the stratosphere with brightness, and the fine details are impeccable. Probably one of the best looking 90s films on 4K UHD to date and a great looking set.

Audio: :5stars:
The Dolby Atmos track is an absolute blast to listen to (quite literally in the last 10 minutes of the film). The film is an action tour de force from beginning to end, and just teams with surround activity throughout, whether you’re listening to the instrumentals, the rousing sound of horse hooves thudding as Zorro makes his escape, or the light and sharp sounds of saber blades clashing against each other. Bass is tight and powerful, adding weight to the cannon blast near the middle as well as embedding itself in each horse thud and downbeat of the score. Vocals are above reproach and locked solidly up front, all around making this a spot on 5/5 rated track.

Extras: :3stars:
4K UHD Disc
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailers

Blu-ray Disc
• Audio Commentary
• Unmasking Zorro
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
The Legen of Zorro: Behind the Scenes Sneak Peak
• Exclusive Scene from The Legend of Zorro
• Previews

Final Score: :4.5stars:

The Mask of Zorro is one of the few modernization’s of classic western characters done right (and sooooooooo many are done wrong. Looking at you The Lone Ranger), and remains on of the best of 1990s action flicks to this day. The 4K UHD disc is definitely a hefty increase over the very nice looking/sounding Blu-ray of the day, and for those who haven’t gotten the 2020 4K UHD release, this is probably the best version of the film to date, complete with Dolby Vision enhancements (the 2020 disc only had HDR10) and a great Atmos track and steelbook packaging. Definitely a must own for Zorro fans.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stuart Wilson, Tony Amendola, Fray Felipe
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Written by: Johnston McCulley, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core),English, French, German, Italian, Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Latin) Thai, Turkish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 138 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 7th, 2023

Recommendation: Must Buy

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Thanks for the review. Greatly enjoyed this from long time ago. I am also happy to see Catherine Zeta Jones in the new netflix "Wednesday" series.
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