The Arizona Republic
October 28, 2005


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Z is for zero zilch, zzz . . . 'Zorro'

Bill Muller
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 28, 2005 12:00 AM

After this latest Zorro movie, Antonio Banderas may just want to keep the mask.

That way, people might not recognize him as the actor who barely showed up for The Legend of Zorro, playing a nearly retired version of the black-garbed Latin avenger, who's called to action one last time to fight for California statehood.

Speaking of that, the movie is set in 1850, but there are Confederate soldiers running around (the Confederacy was formed in 1861) and the film includes a character who, by all appearances, is Abraham Lincoln (first elected president in 1860).
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So did it take 10 years for Zorro to ride his horse, swing his sword and crack his whip? Guess so. Or maybe director Martin Campbell stood too close to the nitro when he was making Vertical Limit.

As for co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, she has given better performances in those grating cellphone commercials. The Legend of Zorro is not only a generic actioner, it's a perfect example of a movie with two leads interested only in the number of zeros on their paychecks.

And man, is it long. I thought studio executives were always trying to force directors to cut their movies, but for some unknown reason, The Legend of Zorro has a running time of more than two hours. Give me a pair of scissors and I might be able to trim it to reasonable movie.

Then again, maybe not. This movie is so unrelentingly blasť that it almost makes Wild Wild West seem good by comparison. Hey, I said almost.

In this follow-up to The Mask of Zorro, Alejandro De La Vega (a k a Zorro), is now married to Elena (Zeta-Jones), and they have a son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). Elena urges Alejandro to retire, but he wants to keep the outfit until California completes its bid for statehood.

Standing in the way are the members of that same type of secret society that Nicolas Cage fought in National Treasure, only with a different emblem. It's not entirely clear why they want to block statehood, but they do like to blow things up, a trait they share with the director.

The group is led by Armand (Rufus Sewell, looking like a refugee from Ultimate Makeover), who moves in on Elena after she divorces Alejandro. What her ex-husband doesn't know is that Elena is working behind the scenes to protect his identity and foil the ambiguous evil plans of the off-the-rack villains.

Most of this is an excuse for multiple sword fights, those PG-style battles in which no one is stabbed, but the movie more than makes up for that watered-down violence with a character who meets a foul end.

The same can be said for the Zorro series.



Reach Muller at (602) 444-8651 or bill.muller@arizonarepublic.com.







Enlarge Image
Columbia Pictures
Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) tries to persuade her husband (Antonio Banderas) to retire his mask for the sake of their infant son.
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'The Legend of Zorro'

* *

Director: Martin Campbell.

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell.

Rating: PG for violence, profanity and suggestive moments.

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