THE LEGEND OF ZORRO

Review by Mark Walters

 

In 1998 we were treated to THE MASK OF ZORRO, a surprisingly good update of the classic hero from the silver screen.  It starred Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and was directed with enthusiasm by Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE).  This year brings the sequel, featuring Banderas and Jones again, also directed by Campbell, but minus Hopkins.  The new movie opens with Zorro saving the day, and keeping the local villagers in good spirits.  He thwarts the plans of a ruthless thug named McGivens (Nick Chinlund), and it appears all is going rather well within the town.  But Zorro, or as he's known is his regular life Don Alejandro de la Vega, is feeling pressure from his wife Elena to give up the mask, and become the family man he continually promises to be.  His son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) is beginning to exhibit some rebellious traits, apparently inherited from his secretly swashbuckling dad.  With California's pending statehood, and a continuing threat of baddies, Don Alejandro can't bring himself to drop his alter ego just yet.  The mask has taken control of his life.  It's a problem that is hurting his marriage, and soon drives the once great lovers apart.  The separation causes Zorro to quit, and wonder where he went wrong.  Soon thereafter he discovers Elena is seeing a new man named Armand (Rufus Sewell), whose erudite and noble qualities may actually be a cover for a sinister plot.  Don Alejandro must once again put on the mask in hopes of averting a potential disaster, and hopefully save the woman he still loves so dearly.

 THE MASK OF ZORRO was a pleasant though unexpected gem, showing us this character can still hold his own with modern day big-screen heroes.  It had so much going for it.  There was a magic there, and an undeniable charm that made you enjoy just about every second.  THE LEGEND OF ZORRO has none of that.  Banderas and Jones do little more than go through the motions in this ho-hum tale.  There are some imaginative fight scenes, some of which borderline on greatness, but too often the film falls into a pattern of silliness, taking us out of any potential enjoyment.  Gone is the chemistry between to two lovers, most likely because they spend much of the film apart from each other.  A subplot with Elena keeps her away from her husband so much it drags the story down.  To make matters worse their child Joaquin pretty much turns into a pale imitation of Short Round from INDIANA JONES.  The villain played by Rufus Sewell is so flat that you'll have a hard time even caring what happens to him... plus Rufus is starting to look a little weird these days.  Botox maybe?  Banderas tries pretty hard here, and manages to be momentarily enjoyable as the lead.  Jones still looks great, but her beauty isn't enough to give this film the zest it desperately needs.  Nick Chinlund makes the biggest impression as the creepy thug who keeps crossing paths with our hero.  Julio Oscar Mechoso also manages to be pretty likable as the church friar assisting Zorro from time to time.  But there's just something missing here...

 No guys, I won't be quiet.  Martin Campbell has proven himself to be a good action director, but even he fails to impress through much of this film.  I felt like we were watching a direct-to-video sequel rather than a worthy follow-up.  That's not to say it doesn't look expensive, because it does.  Maybe the fact that the first film was so good is what ultimately hurts this one so much.  Oh sure, there's plenty of action to help pass the time, but the end result is a let down.  It's all so familiar, and yet nothing like what we remember fondly from before.  Even the score by James Horner tries hard to match the emotion from the first film, but you can't make a bad film seem good no matter how strong the music is.  Can the absence of Anthony Hopkins be what's killing it?  Not sure, but whatever the case may be this sequel is far inferior to it's predecessor.  The tagline for the film is "This fall adventure begins with a Z."  Uh, make that "ZZZzzzz" and you're pretty dead on.  Oh, and is it just me or shouldn't the titles of these two films have been reversed?!  Not just for alphabetical reasons, but the first film was more about the "Legend" of this hero, where as this one is more about the "Mask".  I'm not sure what the future holds for Zorro, but for right now the bar has been significantly lowered.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give THE LEGEND OF ZORRO a 5.


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The Legend of Zorro
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