|The Legend of Zorro (2005)
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Giovanna Zacarias, Raul Mendez
Director: Martin Campbell
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
Just when you thought that the summer season had exhausted the possibility of more pointless movie sequels, “The Legend of Zorro” rides in to theaters, and about five years too late. After the box office success of “The Mask of Zorro,” both of the film’s stars seemingly dropped off the Hollywood food chain, so a sequel intended to cash in on the memories of the far superior original shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is surprising is that despite all of the extra effort Antonio Banderas puts into his performance the second time around, the movie still lacks the excitement and personality of its predecessor.
Banderas revives his role as the legendary Zorro character, but this time around, plays him more like a Mexican Batman than a swashbuckling hero. Instead of fighting off his enemies in jest, he’s been relinquished to a detective role where he must sneak around in the shadows and protect his real identity. And because Don Alejandro refuses to pack away the mask and say goodbye to Zorro forever – he’s a daddy now, don’t forget – Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) files for divorce and leaves him to wallow in his identity crisis. Several months later, Don Alejandro runs into Elena at some fancy schmancy winery grand opening where he discovers her with another man, a French Count named Armand (Rufus Sewell, always playing the villain in these period films) who’s obviously up to no good.
All of the performances, save for a few scenes with Banderas, are mostly uninspired, with Zeta-Jones proving just how bad of an actress she really is and Sewell displaying perhaps one of the worst French accents in the history of film – though John Malkovich still wins this category for his appearance in “Johnny English.” And the acting is just one of countless other problems with the movie, which is by far the least action-packed adventure film of the year. This is “The Legend of Zorro,” not “Legends of the Fall” people. Try cutting out forty minutes, adding a few more sword fights (where bad guys actually get stabbed), and then you’ll be heading in the right direction. Zorro is a master swordsman, for Christ's sake, and yet, no matter how many enemies he encounters, he always finds some other way to hurt them without using his very sharp sword.
Maybe it’s because the first film was rated PG-13, while the sequel has been mitigated to a family-friendly PG, but all that really means is that Zorro has to be more goofy (for the kids) and his son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) gets to kick some butt (for the kids). And as you can quickly see, a pattern begins to form which helps to classify who this movie is really for. Zorro’s horse gets drunk and smokes a pipe (for the kids). Bad guys get stabbed in the butt with hot pokers (for the kids), or fall on wooden logs and injure their groins (for the kids.) “The Legend of Zorro” is for the kids, and unless you’re under the age of twelve, this movie ain’t for you.