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Posted 10/27/2005 8:47 PM     Updated 10/28/2005 9:21 AM
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'Legend of Zorro' fails to make a mark
If you live long enough or see enough movies, the most fractured premises unveil before your eyes. So in The Legend of Zorro, the masked one is pitted against — hold on — a weapon of mass destruction.

Without indulging in any spoilers, let's just say that during one of Zorro's travels in Hollywood's latest sequel, he comes across a crater humongous enough to hold every enchilada ever consumed.

It got there somehow — and likely not in ways that had anything to do with God's plan.

But before the story gets to a twist that dominates its somewhat livelier second half, we have to endure labored domestic scenes between returning leads Antonio Banderas (Zorro) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Elena) from 1998's more beguiling Mask of Zorro.

 About the movie

Of all things, this movie has the same problem Ghostbusters 2 had, which is this: You can't take bigger-than-life screen types and toss them into everyday, regular-folk situations.

Zorro (known to the unsuspecting as his unmasked self, Alejandro) and Elena have married and have a young son, played by Adrian Alonso.

Elena is always complaining that Dad can't find enough time for little Joaquin, or that he won't retire from carving "Zs."

Just what we want to see: Zorro henpecked.

Elena threatens divorce and starts flirting publicly with a rich dandy (Rufus Sewell) who, and this isn't giving much away, must have something to do with the WMD. Why?

Well, he's effetely European, transparently insincere and, in this kind of movie, you usually don't have good guys being played by actors named Rufus.

California wants to be a state, the Civil War is brewing, and amid this backdrop of political intrigue, Sewell's Armand just doesn't smell very good, despite all his colognes.

Though there's worse entertainment around, there may be more people rabid for the return of Prohibition than for a Zorro sequel seven years after the fact. To this end, Sony has hedged its bets with a PG movie geared more to kids than to true adventure.

In fact, some of the head-bopping slapstick during the swordfights seems more Three Stooges than Three Musketeers.

Coming eventually: A Legend DVD and, after that, you can bet, a twofer with it and The Mask of Zorro.

Double-dipping looks to be the movie's only raison d'être, as Armand would say.

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