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PCR # 292  (Vol. 6, No. 43)  This edition is for the week of October 24--30, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Legend of Zorro"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Two stars

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Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Rufus Sewell
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 48 mins

A lot has happened since 1998's "The Mask of Zorro." Antonio Banderas has had some success, including the "Spy Kids" trilogy and a role in "Shrek 2." In fact, his character of Puss in Boots is getting his own movie. Meanwhile, Catherine Zeta Jones, whose appearance in "The Mask of Zorro" was her breakthrough role, went on to not only win an Oscar for her work in "Chicago," but she also managed to snag Michael Douglas as a husband. As Joe Walsh would say, "Life's been good to her so far." So, you ask, what brings them back together seven years later? Hollywood!

The film begins 10 years after the end of "The Mask of Zorro." The people of the territory of California are in the process of voting to see if they will try to enter the Union as a state. However, a mean looking man with wooden teeth and a cross burned into his cheek (Nick Chinlund) is not the democratic type. He tries to steal the ballots, which causes the local church bells to ring. The bells, a kind of 19th Century Bat-signal, summon the hero of the people, the one and only Zorro. Well, I think it's Zorro. With moves taken directly from the caped crusader, the Bat-signal may not be the only thing the two have in common. When not swinging on ropes and floating on air with his cape (see what I mean), Don Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) is trying to be a good father to his son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). The boy, however, would rather hear of the exploits of Zorro, not knowing it's his father behind the mask. However, when things begin to look bad for the people of California, it will take the entire family, plus the local priest, to make things right.

Rumor has it that Anthony Hopkins declared that appearing in "The Mask of Zorro" made him contemplate retirement. That being said, the film was a hit. And any film that brought Catherine Zeta Jones to our shores can't be all bad. And the same can be said for the sequel. It's not all bad. Director Campbell, who will soon begin filming the latest James Bond film, knows how to film action. It's the plot around the action that slows the film down. Greedy guy wants land and does whatever he can to get it. It's kind of like "Chinatown." No, just kidding. "Chinatown's" script won an Oscar. "The Legend of Zorro" won't. Banderas does his best and seems to be having fun with the role. I did notice that his hair style changes between de la Vega and Zorro. I don't know if this is intentional, like Superman, or just bad continuity. Zeta Jones seems like she'd rather be somewhere else and Rufus Sewell, one of England's finest actors, seems embarrassed to be here. I assume his motivation was the same as Michael Caine's when he appeared in "Jaws the Revenge." When asked about that film, Caine replied, "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." I'm sure Sewell's home is lovely. The stand out performance here is Zorro's horse. Whether refusing to understand Spanish or supporting a drunken Banderas, this is the best movie horse since Lee Marvin rode into town in "Cat Ballou."

My advice: if you want to see Banderas in boots and waving a sword, wait for "Shrek 3." On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "The Legend of Zorro"  Two stars

This week's movie review of "The Legend of Zorro" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.