Another 4K title from Sony sees a Dolby Vision/SteelBook upgrade - this time it’s the exciting swashbuckling adventure The Mask of Zorro. A wild thrill ride adventure film, it looks and sounds exceptional in 4K. The new Dolby Vision HDR pass allows for much-improved contrast while keeping the same strong visual appearance as the previous disc. Highly Recommended
As we’ve already covered The Mask of Zorro in 4K rather recently, I’ll be leaning on my colleague M. Enois Duarte’s review to fill in some of the blanks. To keep things short, I’m a fan of this iteration of Zorro. I was exposed to the classic 1940 Tyrone Power The Mark of Zorro adventure at a young age and the character stuck with me. Not helping matters is my huge affection for Batman and the ongoing lore that his parents were murdered outside the theater taking young Bruce Wayne to see a Zorro film. I’m also a huge fan of the farcical action-comedy Zorro: The Gay Blade (which desperately needs a Blu-ray and/or 4K release), so I was all in for Martin Campbell’s update with Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Stuart Wilson delivering another excellent 90s villain. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the film hasn’t missed a beat offering thrilling action sequences, explosive setpieces, intricate character drama, and light-hearted levity without overplaying its hand. A genuine 90s-era action classic.
For another take on the film, read M. Enois Duarte’s review:
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Mask of Zorro makes its mark on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray once again with a new 25th Anniversary 4k UHD + Blu-ray + Digital SteelBook. The 4K version is now pressed on a BD-100 disc with the standard 1080p disc being the same recycled piece of work from 2008. The discs rest comfortably in their respective bays without being stacked. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options.
Much like past Sony upgrades for their early 4K catalog titles, this new release for The Mask of Zorro offers a modest improvement visually, but maybe not quite enough of one to fully justify a double-dip - especially if you don’t have Dolby Vision HDR on your setup. Looking at the two discs, it does appear that Sony used the same excellent source but just added the HDR upgrade. Details are fantastic throughout with a great appreciation for facial features, clothing textures, makeup (Hopkins' tanner has always been obvious but it’s pretty clear now), and the immaculate production design work. Film grain is natural without any serious issues, some optical effects still carry over with a thicker grain presence, but nothing serious or detrimental.
Dolby Vision HDR works its magic most for black levels and contrast. I felt like shadows were much better defined with deep inky spaces and subtle light grandniece to give the image a stronger sense of depth. I also thought Banderas’ Zorro costume looked terrific with a stronger black shade while allowing for more fine details to come through. Likewise, contrast was helped in that arena letting some of those scenic vistas look even more beautiful - particularly wide establishing shots where cloud cover had more lighting and shading detail than the 2020 disc. In the grand scheme, these improvements are small-scale since the previous HDR10 disc was already excellent, but if you haven’t picked this disc up or have recently upgraded to Dolby Vision, I’d call this disc the obvious winner.
Once again the same excellent Atmos audio mix has been carried over for a rousing and active soundscape giving you an exhilarating fully immersive experience. Those action sequences are top tier offering wall-to-wall sound with some fun height channel highlights. That’s especially the case for the big final setpiece. The previous DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is again included.
Here’s what E. had to say:
Swashbuckling adventures swing into action with a boisterously charming and highly satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack. While not necessarily offering a leaps and bounds jump over its DTS-HD predecessor, the additional channels nonetheless add a welcomed layer of immersion that makes this audio option a clear winner. Vocals are continuously precise and intelligible amid the loudest, most chaotic segments while the higher-frequencies are broad and sharply rendered without a loss in detail. A vigorous, robust low-end delivers a wall-rattling, room-energizing presence, effectively providing serious weight and a powerful oomph to the music and the explosive action.
Imaging feels vast and expansive with various sound effects smoothly traveling across the front speakers and into the top heights with convincing effectiveness, creating a splendidly engaging and encompassing half-dome soundstage. James Horner's score joins the fun, extending into the ceiling channels with a great deal of warmth and detailed clarity, exhibiting excellent fidelity and definition within the mid-range. As expected, the action sequences deliver the best enveloping moments with the chaos of debris panning in every direction and the cheers or screams of people coming from all around. Quieter, dialogue-driven sequences fill the room with birds chirping in the distance, the noise of a crowded party surrounding the listening area and the echo of water dripping from Zorro's cave lair, generating an immersive hemispheric soundfield. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 90/100)
The Mask of Zorro is an action classic. Martin Campbell reinvented Bond for GoldenEye and he did it again with this character even giving him a Bond-style introduction. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, it’s terrific entertainment through and through. Now with a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook, the film celebrates its 25th Anniversary in style offering up a newly encoded disc offering Dolby Vision HDR (for those so equipped), with the same excellent audio options (but really you want Atmos), and the same bonus features. Highly Recommended