The Mask of Zorro

Zorro is the first true action hero of this summer, and maybe of the last few summers. And for the price of admission you get not one Zorro, but two!

A detailed explanation of the underlying plot for The Mask of Zorro is an exercise in futility. It deals with Don Montero (Staurt Wilson) trying to buy California. The story that drives the movie is that of the relationship between the elder Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) and the new Zorro (Antonio Banderas).

Each Zorro has his own problems to solve. The elder Zorro wants revenge on Montero for killing his wife, stealing, and raising his daughter. Young Zorro seeks revenge against a corrupt US Calvary man, Captain Love (Matthew Letscher), for killing his brother. Young Zorro is also romantically attracted to Elder Zorro’s daughter. The daughter of Elder Zorro, Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) was stolen and raised by Don Montero. She slowly finds small clues to who she is.

Though there are some gun fights in The Mask of Zorro, the largest chunk of action uses swords and not guns. This makes for some exciting swashbuckling fun, unlike many of the films currently playing onscreen. I was happy to see a movie that does not rely on gunfights to generate excitement. Kudos to director Martin Campbell for keeping the sword fights exciting and fresh instead of going the gun battle route.

Talking about Campbell, he seems to be the guy that can revive anything. He has a knack for making so-old-it’s-cool type films. Campbell’s last film was GoldenEye, which single-handedly revived the James Bond franchise. Now, it looks like he has also revitalized the Zorro franchise.

As kids, my sister and I watched re-runs of the black and white Zorro episodes on TV, so I was quite delighted to see that there was going to be a big screen version of Zorro. I stepped into the theatre expected a lot and was not disappointed when I left.

What can you say about Anthony Hopkins? To begin with, he is one of the best actors around. And with Zorro, he shows that not only can he act, he can handle swordplay with no problems. Hopkins is wonderful in The Mask of Zorro.

Antonio Banderas has not had a real big-screen hit, but I believe The Mask of Zorro will be his first. Banderas lights up the screen with his casual charm. He is the perfect Zorro. What I loved about Bandera’s Zorro was that the character was suave, but also had some flaws. Look for the scene in which he is surround by an army of men after trying to steal a horse. Also look ashe tries to jump onto his horse like the elder Zorro.

The one to watch for is Zeta Jones, though. A relative newcomer to the bigscreen, Zeta Jones lights up the screen. She has a zest that is indescribable. The chemistry between her and Banderas is some of the best I’ve seen lately. I love the scene in which she catches Banderas’s Zorro trying to steal a horse.

The script by Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott, and John Eskow has enough action to keep our attention. The dialogue is snappy and funny. The script is somewhat convoluted and hard to understand, but this really doesn’t matter because of Campbell’s excellent direction. The film runs a bit long and there are things that feel out of place. For instance, the Montero’s gold mine looks so fake that it feels as if it belongs in some Las Vegas hotel.

The score by James Horner is well done, especially taking into account that his last score for Deep Impact was as generic as it could be. The score for The Mask of Zorro is quite listenable.

Overall, The Mask of Zorro is an exciting film and a good escapist movie. It is a fun film and I highly recommend it for everyone who is sick of all the gunfights in motion pictures lately. The swashbuckling sword fights are worth admission itself, but the movie producers decide to give us more and give us two Zorros for the price of one.

Edited by Cher Johnson.