By Subhash K. Jha, : Film: 'The Legend Of Zorro'; Cast: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones; Director: Martin Campbell; Rating: *
Even if you've grown up watching the masked marauder ripping through the rites of nobility with a sword in hand and horse on butt, this new swanky but empty version of the legend's tale would put you off.
First of all, the motivation for its existence is all wrong. The whole concept of 'Zorro' Banderas romancing 'Elena' Zeta-Jones is based on a burning desire to bring the two stars together.
Sure enough the screen scorches when the two lock lips. Problems arise (and we don't mean to push a pun here) when swords lock instead of lips.
There's just no mystery or chemistry in the way the fights unravel across the screen. The swash-buckling spirit is replaced by a spoofy splendour that spreads its svelte arms invitingly to the audience.
Rugged and replete with raunchy references, "The Legend Of Zorro" works neither as a homage nor a parody of the legend. It has blizzards of bravura to uphold the proceedings. But finally we don't get much out of the film except a poorly conceived, smartly executed adventure tale.
What saves the day is the star charisma, in ample display in the main protagonists. You could watch this film if you're a diehard fan of Banderas and Zeta-Jones, both as a pair and individually.
The fact that they're now pushing 40 and are cast as parents of a 10-year-old brat who goes around playing pranks on stuffy teachers and unsuspecting villains, doesn't take the heat away from the passion play. Is the little boy a lead to the third part of this ongoing invitation to ennui entitled "Son Of Zorro"?
Director Martin Campbell has had considerable experience in the adventure-thriller genre. He has directed a James Bond film. He's also putting together the new James Bond Film. In "The Legend Of Zorro", he's stuck between the impulse to exploit the luscious lead and to tell a full-on adventure story.
The virile locales add an uncertain charm to a film that seems to tilt its hat to the hackneyed genre known as the swash-buckler. But the swash lacks a swish.