Superhero Month: "The Legend of Zorro" Review

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Superhero Month: "The Legend of Zorro" Review

-- Rating: PG
Length: 129 minutes
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2005
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Genre: Action/Adventure/Western

"The Legend of Zorro" picks up where the 1998 hit film "The Mask of Zorro" left off. Zorro, a character best described as a Mexican Robin Hood, is determined to fight the never-ending battle between good and evil, only this time, he is married and is a father to a young son.

The movie is set in Mexico in 1850, the year that California was holding a vote to determine whether it would join the United States as its newest state. Jacob McGivens (Nick Chinlund) steals some of the ballots, but Zorro (Antonio Banderas) is determined to get them back. As the two of them fight, McGivens tears off Zorro's mask, exposing his real identify. Two Pinkerton agents immediately recognize Zorro as Don Alejandro de la Vega. Zorro quickly puts together a makeshift mask and heads off to hand the recovered ballots to Governor Riley (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.).

Vega returns home to his wife, Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who tries to convince him to leave the Zorro persona behind, but he believes he is still needed. The Pinkerton agents confront Eléna with their knowledge of Zorro's identity, and she is forced to serve her husband with divorce papers.

Alejandro, depressed over the separation from his wife and child, finds himself living at a nearby hotel. His longtime friend, Father Felipe (Julio Oscar Mechoso), convinces him to join him in attending a party that evening, to which Alejandro goes. He discovers that his wife has been spending a lot of time with a former classmate-the suave Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). A bit later, Vega witnesses a large explosion not far from Armand's hacienda and he becomes suspicious.

As expected, Armand turns out to be the bad guy, and Zorro is determined to stop him. The Count is the leader of a secret society called the Knights of Aragon, and he is determined to use his power to stop the United States from gaining any more power. With McGivens as his henchman, Armand plans to destroy the Confederate Army by seeding its camps with explosives.

After a series of struggles and thrilling chases, good wins out in the end. Zorro saves his son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), who was kidnapped by McGivens, the governor signs the bill making California a state, and Vega and his wife are reunited and remarried by Father Felipe.

Despite a slight bit of aging since the first film, Antonio Banderas reprised the role of Zorro perfectly. Banderas started his acting career in 1982 in Spanish films before making the move to the American screen in 1986. He is best known for his roles in " Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles," "Homeland Security," "Evita," and "Day of the Falcon." He has won twenty-eight awards and has received thirty-two additional nominations, including three Golden Globe nominations.

In the role of Eléna, Catherine Zeta-Jones adeptly segued from the sultry temptress to the everyday housewife with panache. Zeta-Jones' acting career harkens back to 1990 when she spread herself across films, television series, and made-for-television movies. In addition to the "Zorro" franchise, she made a name for herself with roles in hit movies such as "The Terminal," "Ocean's Twelve," and "Intolerable Cruelty." She has been nominated for seventeen awards and won an additional seventeen, including an Oscar for her supporting role in the 2002 hit "Chicago."

Rufus Sewell was perfectly cast as the evil Count Armand. A British native, he cut his acting teeth on the British screen before making the move to American movies early in his career. He is best known for his roles in movies such as "Hotel Noir," "Dark City," "The Illusionist," and "A Knight's Tale."

New York native Nick Chinlund pulled off the role of the evil McGivens without a hitch. He got most of his acting experience playing the bad guy from many popular television series in which he appeared, including "The X-Files," "Diagnosis Murder," "The Sopranos," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." He has also had supporting roles in popular films such as "Mr. Magoo," "Con Air," "Eraser," and "Supremacy."

Although "The Legend of Zorro" did not receive the same critical acclaim as that of "The Mask of Zorro," it is still a movie well worth seeing. Where the first film was all about action and adventure, this sequel shows the human side of the characters as they enjoy married life raising a son together. Some critics believe it was a little too realistic with Zeta-Jones' character bordering on a cartoonish nagging housewife, but audiences didn't seem to mind. The movie is still packed with action and adventure and a storyline that will leave you wanting more.

Rating: 3 out of 5