THE MASK OF ZORRO

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MARKETER: Columbia TriStar Interactive

WHERE TO FIND IT: www.sony.com/zorro

CRITIQUE: Columbia TriStar Interactive is using the latest technology to bring all the action of its 19th century period piece, "The Mask of Zorro," onto the Web. But the fiery effects from Columbia TriStar's swashbuckling adventure, which opened in theaters July 17, don't translate as easily online.

The site includes sound effects, such as slashing swords, as well as interactive games and a sweepstakes to win a two-year lease on a Ford Mustang and a trip to Switzerland for the Fencing World Championships.

The games are the most compelling area of the site, with Shockwave sword fighting, a 3-D role-playing environment and a VRML fencing tournament with online opponents. But users who lack a Netscape 4.0 or Cosmo 2.0 browser will have to thrust and parry with the A, S, Z and X keys, which doesn't quite match the steamy duel scene between Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in the movie.

One film element does translate well -- the control factor. Just as the stern Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) ruled Old California with a steely hand, the site controls game access in just the same heavy-handed manner. To enter the game zone, or begin a new game, users must enter their name, e-mail address and ZIP code. The site promises only to use this information to send game updates and clues, on an opt-in basis, but leaves you feeling you've been marked. Slash-slash-slash. Clink.

WHO CREATED IT: DNA Studio, Los Angeles (www.dnastudio.com).

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