The Legend of Zorro
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Martin Campbell
scr Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
with Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso, Nick Chinlund, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Raúl Méndez, Gustavo Sanchez-Parra, Giovanna Zacarías, Shuler Hensley, Michael Emerson, Pedro Armendáriz Jr
release US/UK 28.Oct.05
05/US Columbia 2h10

Mr & Mrs Z: Banderas and Zeta-Jones

banderas zeta-jones sewell

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The Legend of Zorro Firstly, 1998's The Mask of Zorro wasn't as good as people seem to remember. It's a progressively stupid adventure livened up by sexy suggestiveness. Well, here's more of the same, but with silly comedy where the spiciness was before.

It's 10 years later, and 1850 America is heading for civil war, while California is about to upset the balance as the newest state in the union. Alejandro (Banderas) is still swashbuckling as masked hero Zorro, fighting the local bandit (Chinlund) while his short-tempered wife Elena (Zeta-Jones) minds their precocious son (Alonso). After a particularly nasty argument, Elena seeks comfort from a wealthy school buddy (Sewell). But everyone is hiding something.

The cast has to really work to keep the preposterously complicated plot in its place, which gets increasingly difficult as it escalates into overwrought Wild Wild West territory. But as we wait for the next ludicrous action sequence, the actors do keep us engaged. Banderas and Zeta-Jones manage to find that spark of chemistry amid the corny dialog and cheesy story construction. They're great fun together, even if their characters now feel like they belong on a sketch comedy show. Banderas adds a nice touch of world-weariness to Zorro, while Zeta-Jones just poses in a series of fabulous frocks, devising a new accent to go with each one.

Basically, this is a goofy, camp action romp that's impossible to take seriously in any way (although the filmmakers lamely try to add touches of relevance). Yes, the fights are extremely choreographed, with convenient props everywhere. Sure, there isn't an ounce of invention, as every action cliche is mercilessly recycled--plot points, characters, events, settings, even an Abraham Lincoln cameo.

It's the kind of movie Michael Bay would make if he made period films--gigantic gratuitous explosions, overly witty stuntwork and ever more gruesome deaths for the monstrously evil bad guys. There isn't a shade of grey anywhere. But it's also fairly good fun, and as the entire family gets involved in the action, we know that in a few years they'll be back for The Son of Zorro. Olé!

cert PG themes, violence, innuendo 7.Oct.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Legend of Zorro Gary, Sylvania, Ohio: 3.5/5 "I really had a great time watching this film. It was nothing more than a fun two hours. It reminded me of my childhood watching these kind of movies on a Saturday afternoon. No harm, no foul!" (26.Oct.05)

Laurie T, Minneapolis: "All I can say is this is a lot of fun - just the laughs I needed at the time. And their son, a riot! This was just a good time at the movies." (7.Nov.05)

© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall