WED 26 OCTOBER 2005 
 
  ELECTRIC GUIDE
No blood, no tempo
By Jeanmarie Tan
October 26, 2005 Print Ready   Email Article  

THE LEGEND OF ZORRO
STARRING: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso
DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell
RATING: ***

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  • The skinny: Picking up the thread a decade after the original ended, Alejandro de la Vega aka Zorro (Antonio Banderas) is an absentee father to his young son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). Wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is tired of him putting his crime-fighting crusade before his family.

    So, when French aristocrat Armand (Rufus Sewell) undermines California's contentious entry into the US Union and Elena mysteriously abandons him, Zorro readily dons his black mask once again to fight for both his state and his woman.

  • The review: While 1998's The Mask Of Zorro wielded a sharper, saucier style, this belated sequel is a family-friendly affair chockful of domestic squabbles and goofy sitcom situations.

    There is also plenty of cartoonish PG-rated derring-do, swordfights and explosions (courtesy of returning director Martin Campbell), but there is zero bloodshed.

    Note to Zorro: Your sword has a pointy tip. Use it.

    But the biggest problem with The Legend Of Zorro - other than its preposterously complicated plot - is that it drags on for two hours, leaving it flabby when it should be fun, slow when it should be sizzling.

    Thankfully, the cast keeps us engaged.

    While looking older and paunchier, Banderas proves he hasn't swished his last Z - especially after being such a big hit as the thickly-accented, swashbuckling Puss In Boots in Shrek 2.

    He still cracks a mean whip and is hilarious when he turns into a boozy crank and ends up slumped against an alley wall with his equally sloshed horse Tornado.

    A plumper Zeta-Jones has some impressive fight scenes, but she seems to lack that fiery, sultry poise from the original that seduced the world.

    Still, the couple manage to re-ignite the chemistry and are great fun to watch whenever they are squabbling.

    Why the film-makers decided to separate them for most of the movie is a mystery greater than what a bar of soap has to do with the whole conspiracy.

    And as Zorro Jr, Alonso is a great find - cute without being cloying, the kind of child actor who actually makes you wish he had more scenes.

  • The one scene that justifies the ticket price: A stunningly-choreographed climax on the roof and inside the boxcars of a runaway train.

  • The one scene that will eject you from your seat: Whenever we are forced to endure Sewell's dodgy French accent and effete villany.

  • Best quote: When Joaquin - who doesn't know his father's true identity - questions how Alejandro suddenly knows how to fight off the authorities after helping him break out of his jail cell, Zorro quips: 'Prison changes a man, son.'

  • Moral of the story: Always let your wife and kids see you in action - they'll appreciate your work better.


    FAST FACTS

  • The filmmakers went on a worldwide search for a young actor to play Zorro's son, Joaquin.

    Director Martin Campbell finally chose 10-year-old Mexican-born Adrian Alonso despite his limited acting experience (only two other movies) and the fact that he didn't speak English.

    Alonso later learnt his lines phonetically from a dialogue coach.

  • Eleven different horses appeared as Zorro's black Fresian Tornado - some were trained as jumping horses, some for 'beauty shots' like running alongside a moving train and others to remain quiet in the background.

  • The movie was shot entirely in the town of San Luis Potosi, considered the colonial heartland of Mexico, with 75 per cent of it at the Hacienda Gogorron, a grand 18th-century Spanish-style mansion.

    The production experienced severe weather fluctuations including thunderstorms and torrential rain, in particular during a crucial scene involving Armand's festive gala, which contained a dance sequence and 500 extras.

     Back to Guide
  •  
    Story index
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