The Legend of Zorro Movie Review
The sequel picks up 10 years later in 1850, where lovers Alejandro (Banderas) and Elena (Zeta-Jones, again convincing everyone she's not European) are now married. Alejandro is still working around the clock as Zorro to help the oppressed of California, a situation Elena is none too pleased with since she feels he's neglecting his family. After an especially nasty argument with Elena, Alejandro leaves his estate to get some space and to save some more peasant families. Several days later, he's handed divorce papers and a reason to start drinking.
Three months pass and Elena has rebounded quicker than Ben Wallace, nabbing a French count and vineyard owner (Rufus Sewell), while Alejandro suspects something amiss. Soon, he dons the mask once more and discovers the count has a plan that threatens the soon-to-be state of California and the United States.
That's why The Legend of Zorro can't compare to the original. The Mask of Zorro was good because Alejandro/Zorro and his mentor (Hopkins) had very personal scores to settle, making every swordfight urgent and lending the plot credibility. Here, Zorro and Elena are thwarting a plan -- involving lots of soap, the Confederate Army, and a secret society -- that resembles an antebellum version of something Dr. Evil would cook up. It's that lame. Adding to the frustration, director Martin Campbell forgets that Zeta-Jones and Banderas were smoldering together the first time around. Remember the tango scene and the sword fight that doubled as a seduction? So naturally, Campbell and his writers have husband and wife spend 75 percent of the film apart doing detective work, in addition to devoting screen time to their intrepid, almost annoying kid (Adrian Alonso). Both maneuvers also slow down the movie in spots. Good call, guys.
The proceedings ultimately settle into a groove of espionage, broad comedy, and daring do. The Legend of Zorro, despite its push into explosions and tomfoolery, gets solid performances from Banderas and Zeta-Jones. Sewell is OK, but Nick Chinlund is memorable as a God-loving, wooden-toothed psychopath. The movie is brisk and breezy, but it's a pile of empty cinematic calories. After a seven year wait and a successful foundation, the audience deserves a little more than that.
X marks the sequel.