Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Well, with Fantastic Fest in full-swing right now, I’m probably the only one actually near the e-mail box this weekend. I just finished a script today after pulling some long sleepless nights this week, so I’m gonna hunker down and try to get through all these articles I’ve been promising. First, though, some news...
... like this review for a screening of THE LEGEND OF ZORRO that just took place in Seattle. I thought the first film was a lot of fun, so I’m hoping the second one is, too. What’d this guy think?
Back from a preview screening in the rainy city Seattle of The Legend of Zorro that they had last night and all I can really exude is "Ah, swashbuckling!" If there is any kind of movies that I like to watch just for fun, this genre is the one. No other films can take me back to the imaginative, adventuring kid I once wan. No scratch that, I'm still that kind of kid, just a little older now. It's been really exciting recently for these types of films having Serenity, Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow all come out and just flat out knock all our socks off. Well, The Legend of Zorro definitely follows in the same vein in keeping my inner adventuring child alive.
I don't know too much about Zorro other than the first movie, The Mask of Zorro, which I saw many years ago. As for the original Zorro Saturday serial that aired back in the late 50's, all I know about that is what my mom tells me back when she was little. Form what she has told me, she, her mom, and her grandma were all going to run off and marry Zorro together. Every time she tells me this I don't know whether to think it's just cute or Guy Williams could have had the ultimate in mother daughter action. I think I'll just stick to the movies and not ever have to think of that again.
In Legend, Zorro (Antonio Banderas) is still at it slashing "Z's" and doing flips and tricks around town while fighting oppressive bad guys. It's the 1850's and California is still not a state of the union yet. During the voting process to become an official state of the union, an evangelic, cross scared villain named McGivens (Nick Chinlund) tries to steal all the votes so the poor people of California can continue to be oppressed by the rich and greedy. But Zorro swoops in saving the day for the people but making new enemies with McGivens and his master Don Armand (Rufus Sewell). Once everything is safe and well in town, there is trouble at home for Zorro. His beautiful wife Elena de La Vega (Catherine Zeta-Jones) wants him to give up his double life as Zorro and just become Don Alejandro de La Vega so he can spend more time with his son Joaquin (Adrain Alonso). Though Alejandro loves his family very much and would do give his life for them, Zorro still can't turn his back on the people that need him. Elena is furious that Alejandro wont leave his double life and divorces him, but not for the reason they quarreled for; something secretive that Alejandro doesn't know about. Something that Elena has been forcefully recruited to do to ensure the safety of her whole family and for the protection of the United States in a time of unrest and conflict.
This chapter in the Zorro saga plays much darker like many sequels but still offers all the amazing and thrilling stunts and action that the first one had. But the problem with the film is the fact that it is darker, but doesn't offer any real peril or sacrifice that Zorro has to choose and make. His family is threatened by the villainous Don Armand but as for his wife actually leaving him, we as an audience all know what she is really up to because we have all seen the preview to the film and know Elena is working as a spy. But the way they cut the movie is more like they wanted to keep it secretive for the audience so you didn't know what she was really up to. It seems like it's a big error by the marketing department for the film. As for Alejandro giving up Zorro, its nothing like Spider-Man 2 where Parker does make a choose and tries to live with it, the story kind of just chugs on never really confronting the issue that should really be giving Zorro more trouble than his enemies; what life style does he love more?
As for the humor of the film, it was the usual comic relief to brighten the film so not to be too overly dark. But an important sassy character of the story fell victim to being the comic relief of the film; Zorro's trusting but independently willed horse Tornado. This new vision of Tornado was less of the real life spunky horse that tested Zorro's tolerance, but more of a Looney Toons cartoon creation. I almost started to expect it to start talking like Scooby-Doo or Garfield. Too much when into this horse and it needed to be humbled a bit.
But those being the things that didn't work for me I still found the film enjoyable the same way I found the first Zorro movie delightful and other swashbuckling adventure films. Is Legend of Zorro as good as the first one? No. But everyone evolved still seems to really like what they are working on. Banderas and Zeta-Jones work very well with each other and really seem to have that "they can't stand each other but that's what keeps the fires going" relationship. The boy who play there son, Adrain Alonso, has a fantastic devilishness that he portrays almost too well just about stealing the show from Banderas and Zeta-Jones. He almost beats Zorro in his level of defiance of rules and the way he express his boldness is almost more creative than his Dads. Director Martin Campbell really shows that he cares what he is making and is good at directing the complex sword fights with elaborate scenarios that take place during the fights. The train sequence at the end of the film is a great example of how many elements he can throw in to make it more complex and ridiculous but at the same time, still able to pull it off to make for a thrilling climax.
This film does have its flaws and mistake that the studio should have taken more time with its run of the mill sequel script and the trailer snafu, but as far as going to the movies for a good time, The Legend of Zorro won't disappoint.
-The Last Westerner