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THE LEGEND OF ZORRO (PG) (2005)

Sony Pictures

Official Site

Director: Martin Campbell

Producers: Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes, Lloyd Phillips

Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Giovanna Zacarías, Raúl Méndez, Mary Crosby, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alexa Benedetti, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso

Rating:


It’s great to see a woman with a sword in her hand, especially when she knows how to use one. But it’s not enough to save Catherine Zeta-Jones from drowning in an underwhelming sequel.

Seven years ago, director Martin Campbell brought audiences a fun-filled action/adventure/romantic comedy that worked on almost every level. The Mask Of Zorro was terrific and a fine standout in a genre that often fails due to a lack of finesse at maintaining the right tone and momentum. In the long-anticipated sequel, The Legend Of Zorro, the same creative team led by Campbell is back, except that the original film’s writers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, were not credited with the screenplay. And unfortunately, the new guys who were brought in, Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, just can’t get it right. The story is so convoluted that by the end of the film you are breathing a sigh of relief that Zorro’s figure is emblazened on the screen, riding off into the sunset.

Ten years have passed in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Don Alejandro de la Vega, and all is not satisfactory in Camelot. Mrs. Vega (played to sassy perfection by the lovely Zeta-Jones) is upset that her husband (Banderas) and his swashbuckling nightlife always seem to interfere with their quality family time. They have a 9-year-old son who wonders where his father goes at night, completely unaware that he is crossing swords with the detritus of society in 1860s California. California is anxiously waiting to become an official member of the United States, and the film begins with the introduction of a new bad guy, equipped with a painfully large scar in the shape of a crucifix on his right cheek. A fight ensues between Zorro (always ready to come to the town’s rescue) and this nasty fellow. Of course, as predictability would allow, it turns out that this guy works for the town’s newest millionaire, a handsome duke from Eastern Europe, appropriately named Armand (Sewell). Sewell is always fun to watch as a bad guy, and despite the fact that his accent falters, revealing his British origins (he’s from Wales), he makes a decent nemesis for Zorro. Banderas is a joy to watch, as always, but he seems tired in the role.

The writers clearly stole the plot from Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Notorious (I won’t repeat it for you here), and then tacked on a lot of nonsensical hooey. The two-hour running time is peppered with excessively long, silly fight scenes and a young boy who can do all the stunts his father can, despite having no clue that Zorro is his father. The son, named Joaquin (Alonso) is cute enough, but it is preposterous to believe that a 9-year-old can fly through the air like Batman. And a horse smoking a pipe? The faithful Tornado is back and, yes, he’s a horse with a good sense of humor, but getting drunk with Zorro and stealing a few puffs take the punchiness too far.

The whole film plays out like a cartoon, fine for kids under 13, but not nearly sophisticated enough in its language and execution for any adult with a sense of wit. Not a hopeless effort, but one that falls far short of its predecessor.

—Tiffany Crouch Bartlett

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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