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The Mask of ZorroHeatThe Exorcist

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THE MASK OF ZORRO
Rated: PG
  Zorro’s dynamic DVD release unmasked in all its glory

The Movie

A wonderful throwback to the swashbuckling romances of cinema’s past as GoldenEye director Martin Campbell cooks-up a Raiders of the Lost Ark remix of the legendary Hero. Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta Jones are perfectly cast, the swordfight scenes are sensational, the Latin passion is sizzling, and by the end you’ll just want to grab a sharp implement and carve a letter into 5 starssomeone nasty’s cheek.

The Extras

Muchas gracias to the generous citizens of Columbia Tristar. Not only is the DVD overflowing with superb supplementals, but the overall presentation is beautiful – animation, moving images and music make the menus a pleasure to use.

A 45 minute documentary (oddly, 15 minutes shorter than stated) Unmasking Zorro provides a brilliant background to the movie, tracing the early origins of the character, the development of this new version (work started in 1991!) and the making of the film. Every major cast and crew member is interviewed, there are behind-the-scenes footage of filming and rehearsals, widescreen clips and all manner of interesting info.

Did you know that Hopkins originally turned the part down due to a recurring back problem or that the film’s original ending (shown here) was given the thumbs down by test audiences and replaced? Every facet of production and filming is covered and it’s neatly structured to follow the plot of the movie. Fab.

Martin Campbell’s (catchphrase: “I think it works very well”) informative audio commentary elaborates on much of the ground covered in the documentary as he takes us through the locations used, filming hiccups, homages to earlier versions, re-shot scenes, digital additions and executive producer Steven Spielberg’s input into the project. Learn why Hopkins has an English accent and when the director got an accidental sword in the chest. And other interesting stuff.

 

Of the less meaty extras, there’s a music video with Marc Anthony and Tina Arena singing the Andrew Lloyd Webber-esque love theme from the movie (cheesy as hell, but rather lovely); 15 pretty publicity shots of the sort usually found on magazine covers; a selected filmography for cast and director (Banderas’ page only list 10 of his 50 odd movies though); the exciting US theatrical trailer, which is much snappier than the one used in the UK; and one 75 second deleted scene rough cut (The Wallet) which is fairly forgettable.

If this doesn’t become a DVD bestseller, 5 starsI’ll eat my sombrero.

Credits
Cast • Antonio Banderas
Catherine Zeta Jones
Anthony Hopkins
Director • Martin Campbell
Duration • 132 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 28
Languages • English, German
Subtitles • English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Dutch
Release Date • October 25
Distributor • Columbia Tristar
Price • £19.99

The Mask of Zorro

Highlights

Chapter 21 – Cutting a Fine Figure
Those sexy sods Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones take part in a wonderfully seductive swordfight.

Chapter 26 – Finishing Up
The two generations of Zorro face their foes in the film’s breathtaking action finale.

Jason Caro

HEAT
Rated: 15
  Another De Niro on DVD... but hotter than most

The Movie

Michael Mann’s sprawling, character-driven cops and robber story is a class above most of its kind. Appearing on-screen together for the first time, detective Al Pacino and thief Robert De Niro play dedicated men on either side of the law, caught-up in a grandmaster game of chess. Besides the quality of acting, what makes it so unique is the time spent fleshing out the protagonists, their work relationships and their tangled personal lives.

Although the film’s complexity and mammoth running time can prove wearing, Michael Mann’s crime story is one you’ll want to see through to the end. Dante Spinotti’s shimmering city landscapes and Elliot Goldenthal’s haunting ambient soundtrack add layer upon layer of moody atmosphere. 4 stars

The Extras

Only two languages, nine subtitle options and scene selection in 52 chapters, but the consolation is the astonishingly good sound quality, especially during the film’s awesome street battle. If you’re trying to convince a friend to get digitally versatile, this could be the disc for the job. 2 stars

  Credits
Cast • Al Pacino
Robert De Niro
Ashley Judd
Director • Michael Mann
Duration • 164 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 52
Languages • English, French
Subtitles • English, French, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Bulgarian, English for hearing impaired
Release Date • November 1
Distributor • Warners
Price • £15.99

Heat

Highlights

Chapter 32 – Under Fire/ Chapter 33 – Cheritto’s Last Stand
Following a successful final heist, an intense artillery exchange ensues.

Jason Caro

THE EXORCIST
Rated: 18
  A naturalistic take on a very unnatural story

The Movie

Without question one of the most controversial films ever made, The Exorcist’s ability to shock has not been diluted by the passing of 26 years. Rejecting the standard conventions of most horror features, Friedkin brilliantly opts for a naturalistic take on a very unnatural story. Never flashy or showy, the movie often has the tone of a documentary, with many scares played down until the final gross-out transformation of young Regan into demon-child. And, by that point, 5 starsyou’ll believe in it totally.

The Extras

A few years ago The Exorcist could only be seen in Region 2 on poor quality pirate video. Now it’s freely available – digitally remastered with razor-sharp pictures and sound. This release is one of those rare beasts – a Warner Bros DVD that comes loaded with extras.

So many, in fact, that it is two-sided, with most of the scarily good treats on Side B. A lengthy BBC documentary, The Fear of God (50 mins, screen ratio 1.85:1), catches up with cast and crew 25 years after the film’s release. It’s basically a line-up of talking heads (many of whom go unidentified) interspersed with clips, production photos and rare footage.

The highlight is the in-depth look at Blair’s demon make-up, with test film of the first attempt (daft!) right up to the version we all know and love. And if you thought the child actress had a hard time on the movie, just listen to the rest of the cast relate tales of woe concerning physical abuse at the hands of Friedkin.

Out-takes from this feature form the basis of the Interview Gallery, which consists of the director and writer sharing their thoughts on the original cut and the movie’s positive message. Both also provide their own separate full-length commentaries: Friedkin has a lot to say for himself, revealing that Audrey Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Anne

 

Bancroft were front-runners for the female lead, and explaining how the set was refrigerated to show the actors’ breaths.

He also deconstructs the creepy sound effects (he used real exorcism tapes) and shatters some illusions concerning the controversy around the production. Blatty’s discourse focuses more on the background to the book and film, and the writer shares his belief in possession.

Other extras include the original (light-hearted) ending, a host of trailers, plus three minutes worth of sketches and storyboards. At just £15.99, it’s one DVD you 5 starsjust have to possess…

Credits
Cast • Ellen Burstyn
Max Von Sydow
Linda Blair
Director • William Friedkin
Duration • 117 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.85:1
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 47
Languages • English
Subtitles • English, Arabic, Romanian, Bulgarian
Release Date • October 25
Distributor • Warners
Price • £15.99

The Exorcist

Highlight

Chapter 29
– Do you know what she did?

It involves a crucifix.

David Richardson

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 1999. Not for reproduction

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