About Us Ad Info FAQ Real Estate Classifieds Site Map Reviews Magazine Columns Events Directories

Hollywood Reporter Subscriptions

Hollywood Reporter Upgrade
Hollywood Entertainment News
New Movie Reviews
Television News
Music News
Internet Entertainment News
International Box Office
Business News
Entertainment Marketing
Home Videos
Video Game News
Media Industry News
Celebrity News
Film Production
Box Office Interviews
Movie Awards
Film Industry News

Celebrity Interviews

The Legend of Zorro

Bottom line: Family-friendly sequel neuters the robust, saucy romanticism of the original film.
What have they done to the "Zorro" movie series? It's turned into "Spy Kids!" Instead of a lone masked champion of justice and freedom, the sequel to Amblin's 1998 "The Mask of Zorro" is now a family act. In "The Legend of Zorro," Antonio Banderas -- the star, of course, of both movie series -- fights the dark forces in 19th century California along with wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and 10-year-old son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). This is not all bad. The Mexican-born youngster is a genuine find, and no red-blooded male will object to the sight of Zeta-Jones in lacy, elaborate 19th century finery, paring and thrusting with a fine sword. But turning "Zorro" into a family movie with domestic squabbles and sitcom situations takes some of the luster off the romantic adventure of Old California.

Nevertheless, under returning director Martin Campbell, action sequences are many and the stars shine as stars are meant to, so Sony could realize a boxoffice take approaching the original's $235.1 million worldwide gross.

In 1850 California, the territory is poised to become the 31st state in the union. A referendum opens the movie, which gives Alejandro de la Vega disguised as Zorro (Banderas) the opportunity to recover a stolen ballot box from the clutches of marauding baddie Jacob McGivens (a sneeringly villainous Nick Chinlund). This is an extended and intricately choreographed series of stunts that sees Zorro take to the air nearly as often as Spider-Man.

Like most of the film's action sequences, Campbell leans heavily on close shots and quick cuts rather than sustained stunt work. Given that his stunt coordinator, animal wrangler and sword master all appear top notch, one can only presume Campbell didn't trust his actors to perform stunts in lengthy takes, which is understandable given the nature of much of the gravity-defying, circuslike gags.

Anyway, the referendum for statehood passes and happy crowds cheer. It really is amusing though to see so many Latino faces celebrating their "freedom" in a gringo-dominated government that will rule to the detriment of Mexican-Americans for another century and a half.

Almost immediately, a highly contrived quarrel between Alejandro and Elena leads to her filing for divorce, the estrangement of Alejandro from his son and comic jealousy that has Alejandro hit the bottle in reaction to the attention paid to his wife by French aristocrat and wine grower Armand (a not very French Rufus Sewell).

A foul plot unfolds soon enough in a story attributed to two teams of writers, in which neither Alejandro nor Elena's divorce attorneys are who they seem and everyone has a secret agenda. This far-fetched scheme concerning an ancient Christian order called the Knights of Aragon feels more like an episode of "The Wild Wild West." It does, however, trigger a succession of fights, rescues, skullduggery and chases that keep the screen excessively busy while pushing the running time well past two hours.

Unfortunately, the hero is made to fight with one hand behind his back -- for the PG rating and an emphasis on family values insist that we never see Zorro do more than hurt the pride of the villains despite their dastardly nature. One stunt has his horse outrun a runaway train, a pretty neat trick considering that the nag drinks more than Lee Marvin's mount in "Cat Ballou" and smokes as well. Must be steroids in his feed.

The heroic troika is the film's major calling card. Banderas exudes macho bravado and self-confidence, while Zeta-Jones combines drop-dead beauty with energetic athleticism. Alonso as Zorro Jr. has all his dad's moves -- though he doesn't realize his dad is Zorro -- and is cute without being cloying. Frankly, he steals the show.

Returning cinematographer Phil Meheux and designer Cecilia Montiel make the most of the location in and around historic Hacienda Gogorron in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, creating an authentic Old California of lavish haciendas, a Gold Rush town, inspiring mission, flowing fabrics, haughty caballeros and sultry senoritas.

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures/Spyglass Entertainment present an Amblin Entertainment production
Director: Martin Campbell
Screenwriters: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Story by: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Producers: Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, Lloyd Phillips
Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum
Director of photography: Phil Meheux
Production designer: Cecilia Montiel
Music: James Horner
Co-producer: John Gertz
Costumes: Graciela Mazon
Editor: Stuart Baird
Don Alejandro de la Vega: Antonio Banderas
Elena: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Joaquin: Adrian Alonso
Armand: Rufus Sewell
Jacob McGivens: Nick Chinlund
Fray Felipe: Julio Oscar Mechoso
Ferroq: Raul Mendez
Cortez: Gustavo Sanchez Parra
MPAA rating PG
Running time -- 129 minutes


Copyright 2005 The Hollywood Reporter

The Legend of Zorro
The Californians
Before the Fall
Kids in America

Human Trafficking
Viva Blackpool
The Colbert Report
Destination America

Halloween treats
Major Dundee
No Direction Home
The Longest Yard

Foo Fighters
Gwen Stefani
Gang of Four
Linda Perry
Death Cab for Cutie

Absurd Person
A Soldier's Play
Fiddler on the Roof
The Wild Party
Epitaph for George Dillon

The Lost One
Spike Lee
Want to be a Producer
So You Want to be a Producer
On Film-Making


REVIEWS going back to spring 1991 are available to our online-service subscribers via our archives. Not a subscriber? Click here to learn about the benefits of our premium service.


© 2005 VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.