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The Legend of Zorro: Good, bad & never ugly

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At the same time, two "Wild, Wild West"-like Pinkerton agents see Zorro unmasked, recognize him as Don Alejandro, blackmail Elena and make her divorce her husband and take up with a French Count (Rufus Sewell) in order to spy on him. Did I mention the count, a swordsman who buckles a mean swash, has established California's first commercial vineyard?
      The leaden plot further involves nitroglycerin, a secret cult, the looming war between the states, a Confederate scheme to blow up the capitol and an evil Prussian officer who could have wittily been played by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      Oddly, no one mentions the Gold Rush. And I do not believe Alejandro and Elena, 19th-century Roman Catholics of Spanish descent, could have so nonchalantly divorced. The Henry Repeating Rifle carried by the second-tier bad guy, a bible-quoting, racist madman with wooden teeth (Nick Chinlund), was patented in 1860. The fact the U.S. took California from Mexico in 1848 is also unmentioned. Alas, history, it's so not hot.
      While it's impossible to believe the plot for one minute, and the film is emotionally about an inch deep, it's nice to see a major American movie celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture and include bits of subtitled Spanish - although one such line will have some kids asking, "Mommy, what's a cabron?"
      Banderas handles his comic scenes adroitly and is good interacting with his onscreen son, winningly played by newcomer Alonso. But ponderous, dialogue-heavy lulls in between the action sequences may have been designed to facilitate trips to the potty and concession stand, and when characters started talking onscreen, so did many people at the screening I attended.
      As this over-padded tale dragged on to two full hours, I was reminded of the downside of Zeta-Jones' bubbly T-Mobile mantra, "Get more minutes." Next stop: "Son of Zorro," I'm so sure.Rated PG. "The Legend of Zorro" contains sanitized violence.
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