Three legendary heroes get me to the theatre every time, no matter how good or bad the reviews are, and those characters would be Robin Hood, Tarzan, and Zorro. Now it was way back in 1998 when Martin Campbell brought us The Mask of Zorro, so it seems rather odd for a studio to wait this long to bring us a sequel to a hit film. but the reason most given for the delay was that they were waiting for a perfect script…well they should have waited a little longer.
I will tell you right off the bat that it isn’t aThe Legend of Zorro terrible film, there is entertainment to be had in this outing, is still damn good as Zorro, and Catherine Zeta-Jones has lost none of her beauty in my opinion, but the plot they’ve hinged these two quite likable characters on is the film’s main failing. Now before I get into the story the other thing that really bothered me about this sequel was the reducing of them film from its previous outing as PG-13 rated film to this much tamer PG version. I have nothing against films that are “Fun for the whole family!” but when the main character is a world-renowned swordsman yet he never actually stabs anybody with his sword is rather idiotic. In Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones shoots, stabs, and tosses villains to their deaths and I still consider that film good for most ages – melting faces could scare the little ones – and it was rated PG. So the decision behind The Legend of Zorro getting a softer touch is a mystery to me, and so we suffer through fight sequences that go along the way of clang, clang, punch, clang, clang, kick and so on – insert Banderas quip when needed – which of course had me wondering, “Wouldn’t he end these fights quicker if it went more like clang, clang, stab?” I’m not asking for Zorro to be lopping off limbs (you really can’t do that with the type of foil Zorro uses anyway), nor do I need to see arterial blood spraying out in bright red fountains, but what is wrong with a quick stab, and then move on to the next bad guy?
Okay now onto the story. In this sequel, which takes place I think six or seven years after the original, we find California voting for Statehood and of course Zorro must prevent evil nasty people from fooling around with votes (and no Jeb Bush does not make an appearance in this film), so once again we see Zorro ride to the rescue in the name of democracy. His people love him and cheer him as he thwarts the bad guys, and rides off into the sunset, but it’s back out home where he runs into problems. You see Diego (Antonio Banderas) had promised to Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) that once California joins with America he would give up the mask and sword and spend time with his family, but of course being Zorro is loads of fun and he loathes giving it up, so the two fight and he storms out into the night.
Later a couple of scheming Pinkertons blackmail Elena into divorcing Diego so that she can go undercover to investigate an old friend Armand (Rufus Sewell), a smarmy Frenchman who is a member of some ancient secret society that sees America as a threat. We are then treated tedious scenes of her seducing Armand while Diego drinks himself into a stupor every night. Now onto the most extraneous and annoying portion of the movie…their kid. Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), son of Diego and Elena, is your typical precocious, spunky movie kid along the lines of Shortround from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the annoying kid from The Mummy Returns. It is also made apparent that Zorro’s acrobatic skills are a genetic trait as we are treated to scenes of the kid doing back flips and much other daring do with no explanation as to how he learned to do these things. This subplot of the son not knowing that his father is Zorro, and not being just some foppish Don, and hating his parents breaking up all serve no real purpose to the stories main framework, it seems like somebody tried to turn the Zorro franchise into an action version of Kramer Vs. Kramer.
Even some of the cool action sequences slide right into comic-ridiculous moments. At one point the train Zorro is chasing speeds up so he is unable to board it, so he takes his horse up a rocky rise, follows the train along a raised ridge, and then jumps the horse to land safely on the train’s roof. How veering away from the train to ride up a hill would somehow compensate for a trains increased speed is beyond me, and this kind of thing should be left to professors of physics, and I won’t even go into the consequences of landing a horse on the roof of a moving train.
Overall this is a tired and overtly silly sequel, one that no longer has the charm the original had, and is really only worth seeing out of curiosities sake.
The Legend of Zorro
Movie Rank - 5/10
Zorro is back but maybe he should have left the mask in mothballs.