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Legend of Zorro

As a child, there is only one hero that precedes my worship of all things Indiana Jones, and that hero is Zorro. Imagine the disappointment when Mask of Zorro hit the screens and suddenly a childhood hero was transformed into nothing more than mere summer blockbuster fodder.

To rehash the trappings of that film would be petty this far removed in the game, but needless to say, Legend of Zorro rights a great deal of the wrongs of its predecessor.

Director Martin Campbell re-assembles, essentially, the same team that birthed the first film of the Banderas-era Zorro, but with much greater effect in this installment. Once again, Antonio Banderas dons the mask as Don Alejandro de la Vega, and Catherine Zeta-Jones returns as his feisty yet loving wife Elena de la Vega.

Sure, we have primarily the same cast and crew on both sides of the camera, but somehow we end up with a film that feels far more in keeping with the legend of our titular character. Helping to establish this is the class tension that subtly defined the original character and his world. Don Diego, hero to the working class, folk legend and defender of the common man, was constantly at odds with villains with whom he was often forced to rub elbows as a member of the elite upper crust.

This issue, a primary conflict essential to the canon, is not only injected into Legend of Zorro, but made all the more complex by Don Alejandro’s struggles to play “hero to all” while remaining a father and doting husband alike. We rejoin the de la Vega family ten years after the previous film. With California on the verge of voting to join the union, Zorro has never been busier defending the people.

Don Alejandro’s days in the mask are numbered, we learn, as he is bound to uphold a promise to hang it up. Elena is concerned that Zorro has been impeding with Alejandro’s ability to play father to their son Joaquin.

As one would expect, Joaquin is kept in the dark regarding his father’s alter ego, even though he worships the Zorro figure and everything he represents.

Zorro wouldn’t be “Zorro” without action set pieces, and in this regard Legend of Zorro is no different than Mask of Zorro. We are still delivered the somewhat stilted action sequences, laced with sub-par effects and rather ho-hum staging. However, in one or two specific sequences, the action manages to refrain from upstaging the message at hand while still being entertaining. One might even venture to call it rousing..

Familial quandaries mount when Don Alejandro’s refusal to let go of his alter ego couples with a mask mishap during an attempt to steal ballot boxes in an attempt to sway California away from the union. With his marriage on the rocks, Alejandro turns to drinking, and finds himself at the bottom of the barrel, divorced, and ironically, unneeded as Zorro.

When Elena becomes romantically entangled with a French suitor named Armand (Rufus Sewell), Alejandro becomes determined to get to the bottom of the situation. These moments all sound cheesy and contrived, and it would be wrong to argue otherwise. However, Legend of Zorro still manages to produce a film that is, to say the least, entertaining and maybe leave an audience cheering for more.


Mario Anima

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