It’s been seven years since The Mask of Zorro was released, thus making The Legend of Zorro an immediate violator of my sequel rule. Just to refresh, the rule says that any sequel that is made more than five years after its original (or previous sequel) is destined for disaster. While The Legend of Zorro is far from a disaster, one can’t help but wonder what the reasons are for its production and tardy release.
Taking place ten years after the events in The Mask of Zorro, Don Alejandro de la Vega/Zorro (Banderas) and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) are now father and mother to Jaoquin (Alonso), a peppy ten-year-old who has no clue that his father is the man who has been decorating the town with carved Z’s. Their home state of California is set to declare itself as a state and permanently join the United States, but the rest of the country is in turmoil as there is impending civil war. But things would be far too easy if California quietly joined the U.S. and Zorro retired his swashbuckling ways in favor of fatherhood, wouldn’t it?
The bulk of the plot concerns an overly-elaborate plan to disrupt California’s plans and pose a threat to the entire United States with nitro-glycerin made from soap. No, I’m not making that up.
This is all, of course, just window dressing for the extended scenes of swordplay that result in surprisingly little actual violence. Zorro and his enemies clank swords and then someone is ultimately punched or kicked in the nuts. The stunts are phenomenal, however, and the film has a joyful and silly tone that cannot be ignored. The violence is executed in the style of old cartoons and The Three Stooges, and it’s undeniably entertaining if you throw thoughts of, say, physics, out the window.
Director Martin Campbell and Cinematographer Phil Meheux give the film a beautiful palette of colors. With sweeping exteriors and illuminating interiors, The Legend Of Zorro is a very sharp visual experience. Campbell can clearly direct action scenes, even when working with below-average special effects.
The cast is clearly having a blast with the tone of the film. Antonio Banderas is back after a few years of voice work, and he continues to give Zorro a very likable demeanor. His comic timing is satisfactory and he shines most in scenes where he is trying to conceal his identity from his child. Catherine Zeta-Jones overacts and knows it, contorting her face and portraying an exaggerated damsel-in-distress. Little Adrian Alonso is memorable as Zorro’s feisty little boy. Who knows – with the way Hollywood works these days, they’ll probably give him his own film down the line. Rufus Sewell and Raul Mendez also ham it up nicely as the brainiac bad guys.
Running a prolonged 130 minutes, kids may struggle to hold interest. They certainly won’t care about the winding plot, but the cartoonish action will likely keep them entertained. Whether the film is necessary is up for debate, but Zorro devotees and adventure-seeking youngsters should be pleased.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 130 Minutes
Rating: PG for sequences of violence/peril and action, language and a couple of suggestive moments.
Theatrical Release: October 28, 2005
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci. Based upon the story by Kurtzman & Orci & Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio. The character of Zorro written by Johnston McCully.
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Giovanna Zacarias, Raul Mendez, Adrian Alonso, Rufus Sewell