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The legend does not live on!
Analisa Chapman, Observer writer
Friday, October 28, 2005

Catherine Zeta-Jones (left) and Antonio Bamderas have a few moments, pleasantly tweaked with comedic zing

Defying the rule that you should never bring a knife (or fencing sword as the case may be) to a gun fight, Zorro continues to fight for the disenfranchised in The Legend of Zorro. The fact that the masked man's sword is flashier than deadly is still entertaining but like the tip of Zorro's sword, The Legend of Zorro dulls in comparison to earlier days.

The first Hispanic actor to don Zorro's black mask and cape, Antonio Banderas is still charming and sexy, and a series of T-Mobile television commercials has not tarnished the Oscar or silver screen appeal of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Apparently, however, married life (character wise) weighs down even the most charismatic crusaders and couples.

In contrast to the romantic tension that existed eight years ago in The Mask of Zorro, the marital spats of Don Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) and his wife Elena (Zeta Jones) spark little interest. The duo have a few moments, pleasantly tweaked with comedic zing, but not enough to make the general chemistry or rather the movie in general memorable.

Amidst light-hearted moments of bungling humour, the divided Don finds himself torn between his love for his family and his duty to protect his people. The presence of Armand (Rufus Sewell) presents another source of conflict, although it is surprising to learn afterwards that his character is supposed to be French.

Most want to see 'the legend' continue, after all, this is Zorro! Writer Johnston McCulley created the character in 1919 in the serialised novel, The Curse of Capistrano, which has inspired numerous other heroic crime fighters, such as Bob Cane's Batman, as well as several television series, two The Mask of Zorro movies and legions of fans. The Legend of Zorro, however, does not keep the silver sword shining brightly.

While the black stallion, Toronado (taken from "Tornado"), gallops away with the masked hero on his back, the first half of the film trots forward in a tedious fashion. Of course, Toronado does his own turn at breaking the monotony by showing that horses have a taste for things other than hay.
The Legend of Zorro also benefits from the injection of a little 'fox' ('zorro' is Spanish for 'fox') in the form Joaquin de la Vega (Adrian Alonso), who is as precocious as he is flexible.

By its second half, the film starts to move towards a more fulfilling path but a few obvious 'green screen' effects and computer-generated explosions taint some of the suspense and excitement the film tries to create. Noticeably running over two hours, The Legend of Zorro could also have benefited from tighter editing and adopting the pace it used to serve divorce papers for a Catholic marriage.

Director Martin Campbell had presented The Mask of Zorro with a fresh, engaging, entertaining and slightly darker spin, due in no small part to the acting and writing team. This time around, however, the magic has dwindled. Though still swiftly carving out the famed Zorro emblem, The Legend of Zorro has more "Zzzzzs" than it should.

Surprisingly, some viewers found the film to be good and even great, and in that respect there may be something to be gained from the sequel. The film (sans Anthony Hopkins and other intriguing elements) is more disappointing than bad and, despite hopes for its success, in The Legend of Zorro, the legend simply does not live on.


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