'Zorro' cuts to the chase.
Picking up in 1850, the people of California are "poor and desperate," hoping that a charismatic action hero can help rescue them. In short, nothing much has changed.
Eager to become the 31st U.S. state through one of those special elections for which Californians are renowned, Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) leaps into battle as the masked hero Zorro to thwart an attempt to steal the ballots, in the movie's first and best sequence.
Roughly a decade has passed since the original, and Alejandro's dual life is taking a toll on his marriage to Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), as well as his relationship with young son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), who worships Zorro without knowing dad's secret identity. After Alejandro is asked to choose between his responsibilities to the people and his family, the couple abruptly splits-a rather convoluted attempt to break them apart, then create obstacles for them to overcome to get back together.
A disconcerting three months pass before Alejandro discovers Elena is being wooed by a suave European count, Armand (Rufus Sewell). Of course, Armand is actually behind a nefarious, anachronistic plot to block statehood, as his henchmen, led by the wooden-toothed McGivens (Nick Chinlund), terrorize the countryside and steal the land.
What comes next provides all the De la Vegas the chance to strut their stuff, showing how a family that slays together, stays together.
Director Martin Campbell is back in the saddle again, but the firm hand he exhibited on the first go-round is shakier here. The opening hour flits all over, hitting some curiously flat patches. Only in the second half does the movie clarify what all the shooting is about, as the pacing improves leading to an extended climactic sequence aboard a train that, perhaps inevitably, drags on a few miles too long.
A quartet of writers contributed to the script, and it has the feel of work by committee. And while there are welcome moments of humor, some are pitched so broadly it's easy to wonder if this is a sequel to "Zorro" or "Blazing Saddles."
Fortunately, there are saving graces, beginning with the chemistry between Banderas and Zeta-Jones, although, not surprisingly, it worked better when they were courting, not a squabbling married couple. Still, the years have been kind to both, and they balance the uneven mood switches from comedy to drama as well as possible.
The same can't be said for the rest of the cast, as young Alonso wrestles with unfortunately precocious dialogue and bounces around like a pint-sized version of his pop. Similarly, Sewell plays Armand as something of a fop with a peculiar accent, just as Chinlund's sneering villain is a little too cartoonish.
At its best, pic displays flourishes of kinetic energy, with Zorro leaping, springing and flipping from one peril to the next--a kind of Nijinsky in black. (For some reason, though, that gag in "The Incredibles" regarding the dangers associated with capes kept coming to mind.)
Shot in Mexico, it's also a handsome recreation of the Old West, from the impeccable costumes to lavish haciendas. James Homer's score, by contrast, often sounds too florid, even by his standards, except for the moment when Zorro rides into the sunset, probably not for the last time. In fact, don't be surprised if the itch arises this time in less than seven years.
The Legend of Zorro
A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment presentation of an Amblin Entertainment production. Produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, Lloyd Phillips. Executive producers, Steven Spielberg, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum. Co-producers, John Gertz, Amy Reid Lescoe, Marc Haimes.
Directed by Martin Campbell, Screenplay, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman; story by Orci, Kurtzman, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio. Camera (Deluxe color), Phil Meheux; editor, Stuart Baird; music, James Horner, production designer, Cecilia Montiel; supervising art director, Kim Sinclair, set decorator, Jon Danniells; costume designer, Graziela Mazon; sound (Dolby SDDS DTS), Tateum Kohut, Bill W. Benton, Jeffrey J. Haboush; supervising sound editors, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; visual effects supervisor, Kent Houston; Special effects supervisor, Bruce Steinhelmer, assistant director, Bruce Moriarty; second unit director, John Mahaffie; stunt coordinator, Gary Powell; casting, Pam Dixon Mickelson. Reviewed at AMC Santa Monica 7, Santa Monica, Calif., Oct. 19, 2005. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 129 MIN.
Zorro/Alejandro Antonio Banderas Elena Catherine Zeta-Jones Armand Rufus Sewell Jacob McGivens Nick Chinlund Prey Felipe Julio Oscar Mechoso Pike Shuler Hensley Harrigan Michael Emerson Joaquin Adrian Alonso
THE LEGEND OF ZORRO Directed by Martin Campbell Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell
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|Title Annotation:||The Legend of Zorro|
|Article Type:||Movie Review|
|Date:||Oct 24, 2005|
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