In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases Martin Campbell’s swashbuckling “The Mask of Zorro” in a limited edition 4k UHD Blu-ray steelbook.

As a child who enjoyed studying myths and legends from Roman and Greek culture, it wasn’t much of a leap to be fascinated by super hero stories. Typically, the ones that drew me came from DC Comics, specifically Superman. The notion of someone possessing incredible powers and using them to help others, to shine the light on the good in humanity, is inspiring, especially when reality often seems the opposite. So it’s not too far of a leap that I would also find myself locked into the 1990-1993 television program Zorro, depicting the 19th century adventures of local nobleman Don Diego de la Vega (Duncan Regehr) who donned a mask to defend his townspeople from corruptions and other evils. This was not the first adaptation of Zorro, so it surprised no one when director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) took the helm of a new telling in 1998’s The Mask of Zorro, featuring Antonio Banderas (Desperado) as a new Zorro, Anthony Hopkins (R.E.D. 2) as de la Vega, and Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Phantom) as de la Vega’s daughter. Now, 25 years later, Sony Pictures Entertainment celebrates the anniversary of Campbell’s film with a limited edition 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo steelbook, including previously available bonus materials.

In the early 1800s, local nobleman Don Diego de la Vega (Hopkins) fights against the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence, doing his part to fight back against control of his land and the land of his fellows. Though he wins several battles, he loses his wife and daughter when another local don, Montero (Stuart Wilson), tries to have de la Vega arrested, shooting de la Vega’s wife by accident and taking the daughter as his own. Roughly 20 years later, bandit Alejandro Murrieta (Banderas) comes into contact with de la Vega, convincing him to train him as the world needs Zorro. At first, de la Vega refuses, but with the return of Montero and his daughter (Zeta-Jones) to Mexico, an opportunity presents itself for both de la Vega and Alejandro to settle old scores and renew hope to the people.

Let’s cover a few things first: this is not a first-time 4K UHD release. That dropped May 2020, including HDR, a new Dolby Atmos track, and bonus features from the prior Blu-ray release. What Sony Pictures is offering is a re-release in a new limited edition packaging. For people who didn’t yet pick up the 4K UHD edition, who enjoy steelbooks, or who were underwhelmed by the design of the original 4K artwork, this steelbook may be enough to convince people to snag this. I, personally, prefer the simple design of the steelbook which features Alejandro as Zorro on the front, the signature “Z” emblem on fire before him, red and black around him and a close-up of Alejandro in costume on the back. The front image is the same as the original DVD release (which I own), so this may explain my preference for it, yet I just think that the 2020 cover is a fairly standard “several-face” poster versus something that’s as emblematic and exciting as the one of the steelbook. This is what the film ends with, after all. It’s meant to excite. The inside of the steelbook has two discs, the 4K UHD with the image from the front and a Blu-ray disc that features the floating heads of Banderas, Zeta-Jones, and Hopkins, that are set in a clear plastic mold. This allows the inside to have images within: on the left, Alejandro in a stylized pose and, on the right, de la Vega’s burning home.

As mentioned, there’s nothing new included in terms of remaster/restoration or bonus materials, so there’s little to add regarding this aspect of the new edition.

What can be stated is that Mask is just as thrilling today as it was then. The script from John Eskow (Air America), Ted Elliott (Shrek), Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) makes the interesting choice of making Mask a tale of generations, of what myths and legends mean when they are gone, and of the price invaders pay when they underestimate the populace. It accomplishes the difficult task of doing all of this without sacrificing emotional weight while being a swashbuckling romp. Part of this is achieved through the charm of Banderas and Hopkins, who bring levity in their own way, as well as the fierceness of Zeta-Jones in a role that could’ve easily been a damsel yet is both written and performed in such a way that she’s very much de la Vega’s daughter through-and-through.

I do think it’s worth noting, though, that despite the pedigree of talent in the film, the three leads and main villain are played by individuals not of Mexican descent, an aspect that didn’t register for me when I was 17, but stands out now. Do I think the actors are incredible, the film exciting, the script paced well, and just as riveting now as then? YES. But do I think any future stories should be recast to feature location/period accuracy? Absolutely. It becomes a strange kind of mimicry when one realizes that a Spaniard is playing Zorro, a Welshman de la Vega, and a Welshwoman del la Vega’s daughter. I’m almost always in favor of the right actor being cast for the role and I jump at the chance to see Banderas perform (Desperado (1995), Four Rooms (1995), Spy Kids (2001), Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)) as his willingness to play in genres and do what is necessary for the character without putting personal pride first is one of my favorite things about him. But as great is it is to see him wield the sword of Zorro, it may be time for someone whose ancestors may not have enslaved the people Zorro protected to take on the mantle. This isn’t a “it’s 2023” thing, but just an idea about how much more powerful the story would be if presented with a more accurate perspective.

In writing this review I learned that Regehr, the actor who I first associated with Zorro, is from Canada and doesn’t seem to have any kind of connection to Mexico. At least Patrice Martinez, who played the indomitable Victoria Escalante (and for whom I had a massive crush as a kid) is, so I haven’t lost all hope that perhaps there’s a place for these stories where they may be more authentic.

All of that said, The Mask of Zorro can be seen as a product of its time and it’s the sort of film that can be enjoyed despite all the things that, perhaps, don’t play as well today. So, if you’re excited for the 25th anniversary and haven’t already upgraded as this reviewer had, then making the switch to the 4K UHD edition is going to be easy. Of course, if a steelbook isn’t your preference and you don’t mind the artwork on the 2020 release, that version is cheaper to pickup than the steelbook and also includes the 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and digital copy like the steelbook does.

The Mask of Zorro Special Features:

4K UHD Disc:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Teaser Trailer #1
  • Teaser Trailer #2
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Disc:

  • Audio Commentary by Martin Campbell
  • Unmasking Zorro
  • Deleted Scenes
  • I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You Music Video
  • The Legend of Zorro Behind-the-Scenes Sneak Peek
  • Exclusive Scene from The Legend of Zorro
  • Four (4) Previews of Older Sony Releases

Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo steelbook March 7th, 2023.

The Mask of Zorro cover art

Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews, streaming

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: