The Legend of Zorro

2006-07-17 15:39


Ten years have passed since Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) inherited the fabled mask of Zorro from his master, Don Diego, and married Diego's lovely daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). In the guise of Zorro, Alejandro has spent these years fighting tirelessly for the people. Elena, on the other hand, is tired of her husband's reckless heroism and worries that he spends so little time with their son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). Now a mischievous ten-year-old, Joaquin idealises Zorro and wishes his boring old Dad would be more heroic, not realising they are the same man.

Alejandro swears to give up the mask, but when California's bid to become the 31st state of the union is threatened, he is compelled to break his promise. Incensed, Elena throws him out of the house and divorces him. Soon after, a French aristocrat named Armand (Rufus Sewell) moves to California, ostensibly to start a winery. Alejandro suspects the Frenchman is behind the attack on California. But as he begins to investigate him, Alejandro is horrified to discover that Armand is courting Elena. Now Zorro must choose what he cares more about - his family, or the people.


The Legend of Zorro has all the ingredients you could want in a swashbuckling adventure movie: heroic duels, death defying stunts, dastardly villains, golden sunsets and sensuous senoritas. Why then is the movie so disappointing?

Unlike many sequels it's not because of a lack of care or talent. The team that made the super successful first film (The Mask of Zorro) is virtually intact with the same director, writers, cinematographer and producers all working together again. The cast is without the wonderful Sir Anthony Hopkins but, as much as we love him, the absence of one actor shouldn't doom a film to mediocrity.

Talent aside, you certainly can't accuse the filmmakers or actors of going through the motions. If anything there is more of nearly everything in the sequel - more action, more gags, more colour, more complexity - but oddly enough not more flavour. Its 129 minutes are packed so full of activity that you feel positively exhausted afterwards. And while it is marginally shorter than the first film (a generous 136 minutes), Legend actually feels longer.

The reason for the film's lack of snap is simple - in films, as in life, "more" does not automatically equal "better". In fact it's quite easy for "more" to become "too much" - and that's just what has happened here. The first film was overstuffed by anyone's standards, but it had a spark, a cheeky originality that carried it over the bumpy patches. The sequel is a film in pursuit of a spark - a desperate pursuit that ends up being weighed down by the same things that buoyed up its predecessor.

Still, The Legend of Zorro has much to recommend it. The chemistry between Banderas and Zeta-Jones is undimmed by the seven year gap, and newcomer Adrian Alonso will charm audiences as young Joaquin. It's always nice to the highly underrated Rufus Sewell on screen - even when he's burdened by a ludicrous French accent. The film is also as gorgeously shot and well crafted as you would expect from such a talented crew, and many of the action sequences are truly impressive.

Viewed in isolation, The Legend of Zorro is a slightly above average swashbuckling adventure with about 15 minutes too much screen time - an inoffensively amusing way to pass two hours. But unfortunately it can't be viewed in isolation. This is the curse of the sequel - a curse that few films have ever managed to shake.

Should you see it? That depends entirely on what you're in the mood for. If you feel like switching off your brain and watching stuff blow up, then by all means. If you feel like something more grown-up you'd do better with A History of Violence or Dear Frankie.

- Alistair Fairweather

With this many sunsets, sword fights and senoritas on show, who could want more from an adventure movie? Well, anyone who saw the first Zorro film, for one.

Lutho 2005/11/13 1:38 PM
GOOD Lovely
Renate Olinger 2005/11/13 6:16 PM
The Legend of Zorro-You'll cry,laugh and aaaawwwww! This movie was absolutely great! If you like swordfighting, romance and heroic rescues, you'll really enjoy this movie! Though the age restriction is 10 MV, if your child is not easily scared, it should be okay for them to watch it. Chicken Little
Fatimah 2005/11/14 3:22 AM
Nice Well I wondered what the sequel to Mask of Zorro would be, I wasn't totally disappointed. The plot seemed a little thin but the young Joaquin provided plenty of laughs *the kid is a joy to watch* with his fast hands and even faster mouth. Rufus Sewell as the villain didn't do a bad job, I almost felt sorry for him when Elena de la Vega fooled him into believing that she was falling for him. While the original Zorro was a damn good film, we shouldn't readily dismiss this as a half-witted flick. Watch it if only to see a young 10 yr old best his teacher and the tossing of words between Elena and Alejandro de la Vega Was fun to watch.
Rika Geyer 2005/11/26 7:09 PM
Mrs Loved it! Definitely!
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