This movie gets high marks from me in the “PG” category. It can not truly be compared to 1998′s Mask of Zorro, even though the characters are reprising their roles, because the original was a significantly darker “PG-13.” Don’t go with expectations that it will match the original.
When we revisit Don Alejandro de la Vega (aka Zorro, played by Antonio Banderas) and his charming wife Elena (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones), ten years have passed since the original movie, and their son is a major player in their lives (he is masterfully and comically played by the young Adrian Alonso). As married life as gone on, Elena has continually urged Alejandro to give up his secret life as Zorro, but he keeps feeling the tug of his people. The two quarrel and separate, leading to separate lives amongst some major political upheaval and the arrival of a strange Frenchman who seems to have his own plans for the homeland. There are a few stretches in the plot, but nothing too outrageous for an action/comedy, and there is plenty of witty banter and sight gags to make up for it. (Of course, any history buff will find the plot laughable, but it’s for entertainment, okay?) Elena gets to do some excellent fighting and espionage-types scenes in this plot, really coming in to her own.
As my review title states, this is a family movie. The darkest moments are Alejandro’s sad drunken sloven days. Again and again, the values of family, fighting fair, not shooting anyone in the back, doing well in school, etc. are reinforced, but not in a preachy way. The young son of Zorro is quite a troublemaker in school, and he learns a lot about “doing the right thing” throughout the movie, much to the comic delight of the audience. See this with a younger audience and know that you are getting some good action/adventure, packed with comedy and romance, without anything vulgar. If you like darker entertainment, avoid this sequel.
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I have no faith in sequels. All I have to do is think about “The Lost World”, “Back to the Future 2″, and “The Temple of Doom” to reassure me that I can spend my time and money more wisely. However, when the special edition of the original movie comes packed with a FREE ticket… can you really go wrong?
The ”Legend of Zorro” retains a lot of the energy, humor, and style from the first movie and that is more than enough to actually carry the film. I was worried going in to this that without Anthony Hopkins, the movie wouldn’t have an anchor. I’m glad to report that Hopkins, while he is missed, is not an essential part of this new Zorro Universe and that is key.
The villians and story are “just good enough” to make sure this boat stays afloat while Banderas and Zeta-Jones do all the rowing. I’m sorry, but if you give this movie 1 star and are so bitter about it, you really must have a heavy heart… it’s a fun-popcorn-movie!!
I did have my share of misgivings I hope can be righted in the next film.
Firstly, the balance of the cast is so good at general hand to hand combat [ie; children, women, peasants] that it does seem to undercut the heroic acts of Zorro. While viewing this one starts to get the idea that if ANY of the people in this film were wearing the mask, they too could be Zorro!!
Secondly, while I had a great time with the action scenes featuring Zorro, there were actually too few of them and again, the ones that were here were laced with other people kicking-butt.
Lastly, the writers seemed to try a bit too hard with the family dynamic. While on the one hand I can see them broadening the characters but on the other, it came off stiff and sometimes hollow.
Still, I cannot say this was a dissappointment. Zorro is a fantastic character and the Banderas-Jones one/two punch hopefully can live on through at least a few more movies… that is as long as they retain the direction of Martin Campbell and the reworked scores of James Horner.
Zorro is a franchise with utterly tremendous potential, especially as the U.S. increasingly Hispanisizes. While this movie has some elements to commend it, it does not come close to meeting the potential of the franchize. Without doubt, the core problem was the scriptwriting of this particular film.
The writer has yet to overcome the idealism that marked earlier Zorro films. Here we see Zorro as quite superhuman in action-abilities, while the writer at the same time tries to humanize him through is family troubles and his zeal for the poor and opressed. This contradiction is seriously discordant with the rest of the film.
The idealism driving this film can be seen in even its villian–his name is not memorable. He was nothing short of cheesy, as was Zorro’s son. Each “cheesy” element must be dealt a categorical death-blow in future Zorro films.
Many of props were good, such as those that attempted to portray Zorro as within the aristocratic class, e.g., Zorro’s home was indeed realistic of aristocrats of the very loosely historical seting of the film. However, the props elsewhere seriously lacked realism. The fireworks at the party were so sterotypical Holywood it made me want to turn off my DVD player, go barf in the bathroom, and commence to use my Zorro disk as a frisbee along with my pre-Batman Begins Batman-franchise disks.
It is essential that the Zorro franchise obtain a realist scriptwiter. The Batman franshise has renewed itself for probably decades through such a move. The Zorro franchise has not.
The greatest accomplishment of this particular Zorro film is that it weakly keeps the franshise within the public conscienseness until a truly remarkable and realist Zorro film can be made. While the film is a descently fun evening for un-sophisticated viewers, it’s shortcomings are simply pathetic compared to its potential. The Zorro franshise and Holywood is capable of so much more than this.