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'Zorro' just another sequel without soul
By: Ivanna Yang
Media Credit: www.moviesonline.ca
The Legend of Zorro
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Release Date: Oct. 28
Just when you thought Zorro had ridden off into the sunset, Hollywood has done what it does best: produce a sequel of the original blockbuster. Sure Antonio Banderas may have a few extra wrinkles the mask can't hide, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is now Mrs. Michael Douglas, but the pair is reunited seven years later, this time with a precocious son in tow.
In a patriotic twist, Zorro (Banderas) is now not only fighting for social justice but also for California's entry into the Union. Just as the ballot box is to be delivered to the governor, the self-appointed "man of God" rides in to spoil the victory. McGivens (Nick Chinlund) is everything a stereotypical Western villain should be: straggly haired, amply scarred and with a sneer that fully showcases his decaying wooden teeth. His self-appointed mission is to prevent the United States from becoming "tainted" by the Hispanic population of California.
In a series of highly improbable acrobatic maneuvers and sword fights, Zorro manages to retrieve the ballot box and send the bad guys running-but not before his identity is accidentally revealed to two sinister-looking agents. Meanwhile, back at home, Zorro finds that domestic distress is much harder to conquer after he reneges to Elena (Zeta-Jones) about retiring from his Zorro duties.
The next day, Zorro is served with divorce papers and spirals off into a drunken depression. At this point, the movie veers off into territory more fitting for "The Da Vinci Code" than a tale about a Mexican folk hero. A secret society is revealed (with European knights and royalty, no less), secret codes are deciphered and Zorro descends into a lab worthy of Frankenstein. Like its prequel, swords and explosions are in order for Zorro's grand finale, as the aging duelist fights to save democracy for all.
Slick visual and aural effects provide the entertainment value that is at the core of this movie. Like most sequels, the script is merely a watered-down version of the original. The sweeping soundtrack all but knocks one over the head with sentimentality, and there are cringe-worthy moments when the dialogue between Zorro and Elena seems to come from a what-not-to-do session in acting class. Zorro's son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) provides both comic relief and the few bright spots in the film, especially in his one-on-one scenes with Banderas. What sets Alonso apart from his older and more accomplished co-actors is the fact that he uses his face to express emotion rather than cliché dialogue.
"The Legend of Zorro" is a romanticized version of what we think the Wild West was like, exciting and filled with dashing heroes and beautiful women. Ultimately, the movie is more comparable to its namesake character: full of smoke and mirrors and technical effects that obscure the people and the story behind it.