The Legend of Zorro captures most of the chemistry between its stars that was established in the first film, but fails to maintain the sense of action and adventure established in the Mask of Zorro and other movies about the sword-swinging hero. Instead, the film moves more into a slapstick comedy attempt that is peppered with some big action scenes.
Along with director Martin Campbell, The Legend of Zorro sees the return of Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones – who heated up the screen with their chemistry in the first film. The movie also sees the addition of Adrián Alonso - as the young son of Banderas and Zeta-Jones who has no idea his father is Zorro.
The movie takes place ten years after the first film, and follows Zorro as he goes off on another adventure to protect the future of California and its citizens. This time, he must fight not only a villain named Count Armand (played by Rufus Sewell), but must also win back the love of Elena (Zeta-Jones) – who leaves Banderas at the beginning of the film. In addition to the sting of his wife leaving him, Banderas soon discovers that Elena has taken up with Armand – who Zorro suspects is behind a scheme to a steal land for a railroad and more.
Banderas also has to struggle with the problem of being a father to his son Joaquin – who despises his father’s spineless behavior and longs to be like the hero Zorro. This longing often gets the boy into trouble at school, and soon finds him fighting the bad guys right beside Zorro. As the movie progresses, Banderas and Zeta-Jones are reunited (after he discovers the truth behind her leaving him) and Zorro rides again to stop Count Armand and save the day.
With all that said, the movie has a much lighter tone than the first film (this one is PG instead of PG-13) and almost seems to be more of a comedy than an action film. The first film had comedic elements, but the sequel goes out of its way to beef up the laughs – at the cost of the swordplay.
The movie action scenes seem rushed and not as great as the first film
Banderas handles the character with the same smooth and grace that he possessed in the first film, but also lacks some of the charm that was there the first time. His drunken pursuit of Elena never feels real, and instead comes across as simply a plot device to help him “fall” from the level he reached at the first film. The actor handles the comedy in the film well, and maintains the same magic that other screen legends (including Tyrone Power) brought to the character.
At the same time, the amount of film wasted on his drunken conversations with his horse may leave you thinking you are watching a lost episode of Mr. Ed. It seems that the writers didn’t really know how to stretch the plot out so they just had Banderas do something funny with his horse. The love story is the traditional “boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl” plot that we have seen a hundred times before, but with swords and some funny dialogue.
Zeta-Jones also manages to capture the same beauty and charm of her character in the first film, but this time there is absolutely nothing to help the actress have the character grow. Instead, it is basically the same performance we saw in 1998, but they are married now. She still has the same independent spirit that she had in the first film, but her part seems to be shrunken down and used as a reason for Banderas to question his reasons for being Zorro.
Finally, the addition of Joaquin follows yet another cliché of adding a kid when you really don’t know what to do with a sequel. The young actor is funny throughout the movie, and the character isn’t near as annoying as the kid added in The Mummy Returns. He does a good job with Banderas, and you can’t help but laugh during his interactions with the film’s bad guys. Still, there is no reason for him to be in the movie other than to give Zorro someone to save.
The worse thing about the sequel, which is not nearly as entertaining as the original, is the total lack of the action/adventure genre spirit. The film follows the same blueprint established in the first movie, but seems to fall short in capturing the big “popcorn” thrill ride that we saw in The Mask of Zorro. This film is much more comedy, and then seems to try and shove all of the action in the final few scenes.
The movie opens up with a big fight scene (similar to the opening in the original), but right from the start something seems different. While The Mask of Zorro and even 1940’s The Mark of Zorro had comedy in them, this film seems to go overboard and the laughs seem forced at times.
The swordfights, which were great in the first film, lack some of the excitement we saw before, and even the big train fight at the end seems like it is there simply because they needed a big finish to the movie. The fight where Zorro tries to save a farmer’s family and their property seems to be inserted in to add some more action to the weak plot, and drags on for way too long. It is another example of how it seems the writers and director of the film didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with the movie.
The DVD comes loaded with special features that fans of Zorro will love including commentary from the director and cinematographer; deleted scenes which do nothing to add anything to the film; Four behind the scenes standard making of featurettes which look at the movie’s stunts and visual effects; and two multi-angle scene deconstructions.
I have been a fan of the Zorro movies since I was a kid, and grew up watching the old black and white Disney Zorro shows. I enjoyed 1998’s The Mask of Zorro, and was looking forward to the sequel. While The Legend of Zorro manages to capture some of the elements established in the first film (and in other movies about the character), something just never quite clicks in the movie.
Banderas with his horse makes you feeling like you are watching Mr. Ed
Instead, the film comes off as rushed with a predictable plot and rehashed characters. It lacks the same action “rollercoaster” feel of the first film, and replaces that feeling with a slapstick attempt gone bad. While the movie is worth watching if you if you are looking for a light movie with big stars, it is a disappointment to any fan of the original movie or to the rich history of the character.
The Legend of Zorro is now available at
Amazon. It is available for pre-order at AmazonUK for a March 6th release date. Visit the DVD’s database for more information.