Zorro Part Deux

by Alan Rapp on October 28, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Legend of Zorro
  • IMDb: link

Way back in 1998 Zorro, the sword wielding, bullwhip snappin’, hero to the downtrodden of California, returned to the big screen in The Mask of Zorro.  Now 7 years later a sequel has finally been made.  So how is it?  Well if you liked the first one you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

Zorro (Antonio Banderas) has been swashbuckling his way through California as the champion of the people.  California is in the final stages of joining the United States of America, and as promised Zorro is looking to retire.  But wait, there is still evil afoot; despite the insistence of his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) our hero cannot bring himself to hang up the mask.

The villains looking to stop California’s induction into the Union include a duke who is also a knight of a forgotten order and former flame of Elena’s Armand (Rufus Sewell), and dirty rotten good fer nuthin’ killer McGivens (Nick Chinlund) and his seemingly never ending posse of nameless thugs with guns and swords.  There’s also a Confederate officer and a plot to help the South win the Civil War, the Pinkertons, Elena as a spy….(yawn) um, never mind.

I enjoyed the first movie but not enough to pick it up on DVD.  This movie has the same qualities of the original and sadly the same faults as well.  This world is completely black and white, good and evil.  The moment a character first appears on the screen even the slowest member of the audience knows whether they are a good guy or a bad guy.  Also the film is about thirty minutes too long (the run time is a whopping two hours and fifteen minutes) which could easily have been paired down in the editing room.

The action scenes are huge and explosive, but I had the same reaction I had to in the first movie, Zorro isn’t about boom.  It’s a slight miscalculation that takes away from the swashbuckling of the tale.  There are many small mis-steps like this.  Also disturbing to me was the amount of time Adrian Alonso gets as Zorro’s rambunctious son that has all his father’s moves and athleticism, is the smartest member of the household, gets into everything, and yet somehow hasn’t figured out where his father goes when Zorro appears.  And if the kid they cast to play him was any cuter I would have gone into insulin shock.

There are themes that have carried over from the Zorro history.  Zorro’s secret is shared with a confidant in the church, the soldiers are all bumbling fools, bad guys somehow misplace their rifles or pistols when Zorro is in close proximity (even if they had them in the frame before, now they are holding swords).  Jokes from the last movie are revived, the relationship between Zorro and his horse Tornado, and the bickering and fighting of Elena and Zorro.

There are quite a few funny moments but most, like the first movie, are cheap laughs that won’t hold up for multiple viewings.  The plot about a knight of Europe wanting to destroy America with soap (no you didn’t misread that) is never really thought out and provides as much head scratching as explosive action scenes.  The rift between Elena and Zorro is really poorly thought through, and never really believable.  I understand they wanted to recapture some of the fighting between the two from the first movie, but there are many other ways this could have been accomplished.

The film is fine, slightly better than your average big dumb action movie.  It’s nice to see Banderas and Zeta-Jones reprise their roles, though for a sequel that took 7 years to make, I was expecting a better film.  Just ask yourself how much you enjoyed the first movie, since this is essentially the exact same thing, and you’ll know what to expect going in.

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