In a time where Hollywood seems content to produce often unoriginal and shallow films mostly to turn a profit, the film The Legend of Zorro manages to rise above the rest by adding another adjective to the mix; unnecessary. The film (a sequel to the 1998 The Mask of Zorro) reprises Antonio Banderas' role as Zorro and Catherine Zeta Jones' role as his wife. Added to their mix is their 10 year old child, Joaquin, played by newcomer Adrian Alonso. Now many years later, the family is settled near San Francisco with Banderas attempting to refrain from his Zorro ways. However, when the entire United States is threatened by a secret organization led by Armand (Rufus Sewell), Zorro is forced back into service.
I saw this film a couple months ago at a sneak preview. At the time the film was not in its final stages as many of the special effects were unfinished (or at least I hope they were). After barely getting one of the last seats in the theater, the film began. After viewing the first scene I sincerely wished that there had been a few more people ahead of me in the line. Not even the best special effects can change this film from being another mediocre action film.
This movie is by no means terrible, but it just is not worth the money either. Unlike the first film which I remember as being well made with pretty solid acting and quality visuals, this film is unable to grasp the same style, falling short in many aspects.
The foremost problem with this film is the script. The plot that is created just does not make very much sense, nor is it very interesting. For some reason that I can't remember Rufus Sewell wants to supply their newly made weapon (Nitro Glycerin) to the Confederate South in order to tip the scales in favor of the South. However, despite the weapon's force, I failed to see how it was going to make a big enough impact to shift the power to the South. Although they probably did explain this in the movie, I really didn't care one way or another. Most likely I was distracted by another one of the film's problems its visuals.
Given that I was sitting in the third row, for some reason, I could not believe the amount of close-ups used in the movie. While this might be a weird comment, to me the shot selection was very distracting. At times I did not know what the hell was going on as throughout the entire scene I was hit by a barrage of close-ups, one of Antonio here, another of Catherine there. Especially during some of the fight scenes such as Catherine's fight in the train car, it was almost impossible to tell who was hitting who as no one stayed in the frame for very long. Perhaps in viewing the film again (which I am not likely to do) I will not be bothered at all by the shot selection, but regardless a couple medium and establishing shots couldn't hurt.
So while the script and visuals are seriously lacking, the acting brilliance of Antonio Banderas makes up for it. Okay, well maybe not. While continuing to recover from the disaster that was Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Antonio Banderas manages to bring nothing new to his reprised role as Zorro. In this movie, He seems much goofier than in the first film, as he is constantly trying to be witty, while many of his lines leave the audience cringing. A perfect example of this involves a part with his trusted steed. After jumping from a balcony, from which he has just thrown a smoking pipe, he lands onto his horse. Much to Antonio's surprise and much to the audience's dreaded realization, the horse is smoking the pipe. The audience anticipates the horibble line that is soon to follow. Antonio, the king of wit, removes the pipe from the horse's mouth and says something like, "Don't you know smoking can make you hoarse." The theater was soon filled with a very awkward silence. Let's just hope that the movie executives got the clue.
Besides Antoonio, Zeta Jones is inconsistent as at times her level of Hispanic believability fluctuates, sometimes barely speaking with an accent. Their son Joaquin does a pretty solid job with in his first performance, although as the movie wares on, he become somewhat annoying and not very useful.
Overall, this movie offers nothing new and does not add anything to the first film. When I saw it I would probably give the movie a "C" as the unfinished special effects looked pretty awful, especially when Antonio rides his horse onto the top of a train after jumping off a nearby cliff. This movie illustrates why the independent movie market is becoming increasingly popular. Why see a movie like this when you can watch a film made for a quarter of the price that actually has a quality script with quality performances? Regardless, this film comes as no surprise as every other movie the last couple of years seems to be a remake or a sequel. The Legend of Zorro simply does not try anything new, nor is it entertaining enough to watch again. While this film is not bad enough to label it as horrible, it just is not good enough to warrant spending nine dollars to see it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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