The Mask of Zorro Ultra HD Digital Review

When a power-crazed despot schemes to buy California from Mexico, it takes two Zorros–the legendary Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) and his chosen successor Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a dashing bandit-turned-hero– to defeat the tyrant’s unscrupulous plans. Blu-ray reviewer Ralph Potts had the opportunity to check out the Ultra HD Digital release of The Mask of Zorro from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

My Thoughts:

“When a power-crazed despot schemes to buy California from Mexico, it takes two Zorros–the legendary Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) and his chosen successor Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a dashing bandit-turned-hero– to defeat the tyrant’s unscrupulous plans. But can even their combined skills, bravado and derring-do be enough to achieve de la Vega’s ultimate goal: revenge against the man who killed his wife, kidnapped his daughter and held him prisoner for twenty years?” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

I reviewed The Mask of Zorro when it was released on Blu-ray in 2009. Here are my comments on the film:

I can’t say that when I was growing up I was much of a Zorro fan but I knew who he was from catching glimpses of him on TV. My first real exposure to him was when I picked up The Mask of Zorro on DVD as a blind buy. It has been in my collection ever since and is among my favorite films. Its blends of romance, humor, action and adventure results in a wonderfully entertaining and, superbly crafted film that holds up quite well under repeat viewings.

The script takes its time (never dragging) and skillfully draws you into the story with the establishment of strong likeable characters in Diego and Alejandro and tenacious foes in Don Raphael and Captain Love. As the relationship among the four develops, so does the vehemence of the storyline. There is plenty of passion for cause yet just the right amount of integrated levity to keep things from feeling austere. There are some truly great moments, such as the scene where Alejandro infiltrates the soldier’s compound to steal the horse. Antonio Banderas owns that entire sequence which ellipses his transformation from bandit to hero.

Hopkins is of course marvelous and lends sincerity and elegance to the role of Diego. Stuart Wilson is a gifted actor that most should recognize from the variety of films he has had parts in. This film gave him more of a central figure to portray and the movie would not have been the same without his contribution as Don Raphael. Catherine Zeta-Jones exudes elegance, beauty and athleticism as she has no trouble keeping pace with the demands of her portrayal of Elena. Additionally, there are a host of colorful characters, including two of my favorites in Corporal Garcia (Jose Perez) and Three-Fingered Jack (LQ Jones) that support the main players and enrich the enjoyment of the story.

There is plenty of engaging action highlighted by well-choreographed sword play, exciting stunts and James Horner’s rousing music score. The Mask of Zorro is a successful resurrection of the Zorro archetype. Hats off to director Martin Campbell and a great cast in creating an entertaining and wholly satisfying film that has finally made its way on to Ultra HD Blu-ray.

The Mask of Zorro is now available on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Due to the current situation review product wasn’t available. The studio did send me an Ultra HD Digital Code that also included Dolby Vision. I redeemed it on Movies Anywhere for playback on my Apple TV 4K. The Digital version did include the bonus features which is welcomed. My ratings for the film, streaming video quality and, bonus content are below.

Note: The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Mask of Zorro contains a Dolby Atmos sound mix whereas the UHD Digital release contains the original 5.1 channel mix.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Sony remastered The Mask of Zorro from the original 35mm film elements. Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from that 4K image.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Mask of Zorro has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This is period film that relies on visuals to convey its time frame, mood, and thematic tone. The Mask of Zorro is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. The cinematography uses wide-angles and sweeping pans of the landscapes which can sometimes impart a bright visual aesthetic. This is purposeful and comes across in this rendering. Looking at the film’s opening sequence it, along with select scenes throughout, it retains the filmic aesthetic that it always has, with no unnecessary additions. Aside from that copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension.

The film’s terrific cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The low-level exterior shots of the various landscapes didn’t offer a marked improvement in dimension. Resolution is primarily stable, with some innate softening cropping up, imparting a discernible softness. The color range in the film is well represented, with lots of earth tones and, primary colors like red and blue. Shot on 35mm film, using anamorphic lenses, film grain and some innate softening are present.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of visual cues offset by gleams of brilliant light that illuminate the various landscapes and gray skies. The beautiful use of sepia stands out in stark contrast to the gradational blacks, grays and green, that make up the look of wartime featured in the story. The film’s shadow laden environs have never looked better, offering increased interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.

I have always liked the look of The Mask of Zorro on home video. I found the Ultra HD presentation takes it to another level entirely, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. Video enthusiasts are sure to appreciate it.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for The Mask of Zorro, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were negligible. Again, I want to emphasize that this film’s predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the engaging type of HDR that makes the format shine.

Film:
Bonus Features:

Digital/Ultra HD Blu-ray Release Date: May 5, 2020

Bonus Features:

  • • Director Commentary
    • “Unmasking Zorro” Documentary
    • 2 Deleted Scenes
    • (NEW) Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
    • Theatrical Trailers

 

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems