Editor's Note: Published on page A2-4 of the October 30, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
THIS IS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A Hollywood sequel that’s self-contained enough to be enjoyed on its own. “The Legend of Zorro” continues the saga of the masked champion of the masses, following the success of its 1998 predecessor, “The Mask of Zorro.” This action-packed installment gets to further develop the two lead characters from the first movie, spouses Alejandro/Zorro (Antonio Banderas) and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The couple’s intriguing secret lives become more challenging when their trouble-making young son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) joins the fray.
The story is told kinetically even as a different dynamic is explored: Alejandro still surfaces from time to time as the peacekeeping man in black, so he’s rarely around to prioritize family matters, much to lovely Elena’s perpetual disappointment. Zorro is definitely not a brooding, night-stalking Batman in this regard, as he has a smart wife whom he must answer to. Nope, he’s no longer a dashing bachelor; in fact, he has
Zorro junior to raise as properly as possible.
The script is snappy and makes use of funny bilingual dialogue from time to time, yet it possesses a simplicity that effectively conveys the volatile political scenario of pre-statehood California in the mid-1800s. There are bigots, humble hacienda owners, well-connected villains involved in vast conspiracies and adventure-seekers—characters that populate a rather dark era that perpetuates the legend of a helpful mystery vigilante.
But for all the involving action and the spark-filled interactions between Banderas and the breathtakingly beautiful Zeta-Jones, the film has a good share of eye-rolling moments, particularly when the couple’s son Joaquin gets built up in a few action sequences as the possible future successor to the Zorro mantle. This character, while charismatic, gets pretty annoying when least expected. Still, the kid actor Alonso looks promising; he adds a wide-eyed enthusiasm to the mischief-maker and works well, too, in dramatic scenes.
Zeta-Jones’ character figures in several brawls, an action heroine who gets to kick more butt, it seems, than Zorro himself. She’s quite a sight to behold—yes, we can’t say that enough—plus Elena is sympathetic as a sly, savage lioness determined to protect her cub and den. “The Legend of Zorro” gets to underscore a “we’re all in this together” message from the beginning, in fun and creative ways. True, it gets corny and boring in parts; nonetheless, it will distract most family members for the greater part of its running time of two hours and 10 minutes.