The Legend of Zorro

Cast:
Antonio Banderas as Don Alejandro de la Vega/Zorro
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Elena de La Vega
Rufus Sewell as Armand
Nick Chinlund as McGivens
Adrian Alonso as Joaquin
Giovanna Zacarías as Blanca Cortez
Raúl Méndez as Ferroq
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. as Governor Don Pedro
Michel Bos as Archduke Wilhelm
Mar Carrera as Marie
Michael Emerson as Harrigan
Shuler Hensley as Pike
Hans Oellers as Baron Leopold
Gustavo Sanchez-Parra as Cortez

Review:
As California draws closer to joining the United States of America following as a free state, Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) sees his days as the masked swashbuckling hero Zorro coming to an end. But first he must complete one last mission before a secret society destroys everything he has worked so hard to build, starting with his family.

The sequel to 1998′s “The Mask of Zorro,” “The Legend of Zorro” is a campier follow up, occasionally given too much to childish antics. But once the story really kicks in, it transforms into a fine adventure film and a worthy addition to the Zorro film legacy.

This Zorro is often aimed a bit too much at a family audience, with some truly groan inducing moments in its first half, and far too much time spent on the antics of young Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), son of Alejandro and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). He’s a troublemaker whose heart is in the right place but doesn’t have the world experience that comes with age. He is supposed to come across as a brave and worthy successor to the de la Vega name who will quite likely become Zorro himself one day – but mostly just comes across as an impossible brat who seems to always do exactly the opposite of what he’s told.

As the story finally gets under way and the intrigue and adventure elements push the bad camp out of the way it easily becomes a rousing adventure film in the classic Hollywood mode. Director Martin Campbell steals more than a few tricks from Michael Curtiz and other giants of the swashbuckling genre, liberally mixed with some modern technical wizardry, to create an excellent piece of entertainment. It’s also no coincidence that this is the same point in the story when Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Adrian move into the background and Banderas takes center stage (it is a Zorro movie after all). Not as successful of late as he has been, Banderas still cuts a fine swashbuckler, and falls right back into Zorro’s cape and boots as if he’d never left. He makes Zorro both super-humanly capable and humanly fallible at the same time without ever seeming false.

None of the villains of “Legend” are quite up to Stuart Wilson’s humanistic menace from “Mask of Zorro”; they’re much broader but perfect in keeping with the pulpy tone the movie strives for.

It tries to hard early on to be funny and isn’t, but once the adventure elements really kick, it is a fine swashbuckler.

“The Legend of Zorro” is rated PG for sequences of violence/peril and action, language and a couple of suggestive moments.

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