"The Legend of Zorro" leaves its mark


Nov. 4, 2005, midnight | By Robert Feasley | 15 years, 2 months ago

Sequel is confusing but just as fun as the first


In Zorro's 90 year history, numerous films have been created to honor Johnston McCulley's pulp fiction story. First there was the soundless "Mark of Zorro," released in 1920; then a twelve-chapter film created in 1937, titled "Zorro Rides Again;" a Disney television series in 1957; and finally, the prequel to the "Legend of Zorro," "The Mask of Zorro." The latest installment in the already sizable franchise inspired by the swashbuckling charmer, "The Legend of Zorro" provides fast-paced, fun entertainment, romance and hair raising stunts – but because of its new PG rating, doesn't quite live up to its predecessors.

Zorro, for all purposes, is having marriage problems. Unable to keep a made promise of hanging up the cloak and steel brimmed hat, wealthy Spanish don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) both find themselves unable to compromise, resulting in what can only be classified as Spanish soap opera-esque arguments. After separating, Banderas finds his life slipping into dissipation and entropy, while Elena rekindles a flame with an old love from prep school. However, when Banderas discovers a plot to destroy the United States, Zorro must ride once again not only to save his country, but his marriage.

Rated PG, as opposed to the PG-13 rating of its predecessor, "The Mask Of Zorro," the sequel reaches out towards the wrong audience. Martin Campbell, the director of the film, tries to appeal to a more universal audience by optimizing the cutesy, family moments and minimizing the amount of time Zorro has to kick butt.

That, along with the evil Count Armand's (Rufus Sewell) despicably bad French accent is enough to make any red-blooded high school teenager regret the seven dollars they shelled out to see this movie.

As incorrigible as it may sound, however, the movie is saved by excellent casting accompanied by a riveting score.

Banderas, the incumbent Zorro, along with Zeta-Jones, display their true versatility as actors, providing compelling and entertaining performances. Clever, witty actors, they furnish a constant supply of quips in even the direst of situations, sure to bring a smile to the tightest-lipped of audience members.

As a change for Zeta-Jones, the script for the sequel leaves her forced to play more than just a pretty face, and to the delight of the audience, she goes beyond expectations.

Overall, "The Legend of Zorro" has room for improvement, but still provides an excellent way to spend 130 minutes.

"The Legend of Zorro" (130 minutes) is rated PG for violence, language and some suggestive moments.




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