Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Mask of Zorro finally arrives on Blu Ray today.

Nearly two years after the Blu Ray release of the less-successful (but still pretty darn good) sequel, The Legend of Zorro, Sony finally feels fit to release the original modern classic on Blu Ray today. It's no secret that I probably love this film more than anyone else on the planet. Heck, it's probably my favorite film of the 1990s and perhaps my all-time favorite superhero adventure. Before I got married, The Mask of Zorro used to be the litmus test. You didn't have to like Batman, Star Wars, Airplane!, or The Silence of the Lambs. But if you couldn't see the obvious quality at work in this Martin Campbell reinvention, then it just wasn't going to work out.

This film is why I'm such a hardcore Martin Campbell junkie. Everything about it just works. The action is full of real stunt work, and it's shot in long, fluid takes. The special effects are mainly practical and you can see the blood, dirt, and sweat on each and every actor. The swordplay is copious and varied. And while the film is pretty violent (especially in the first act), the body count is just low enough for it to be shocking whenever a life is lost (like all Martin Campbell action films, the violence stings and the dead are mourned).

Although there are four major action set pieces, the 135-minute film is long enough to have ample heapings of plot and character development. Even the villain (Stuart Wilson) is given shadings and moments of empathy, and his grand scheme is both brilliant and logical. Eleven-and-a-half years after its release, The Mask of Zorro remains Antonio Bandaras and Catherine Zeta Jones's finest hours, and it contains one of Anthony Hopkins's best performances. If by some fluke you haven't seen this one yet, you now have absolutely no excuse. If you value my opinion at all, you'll buy or rent The Mask of Zorro today.

Scott Mendelson

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