When news of a sequel to 1998’s The Mask of Zorro was first announced, I was very excited as I really enjoyed The Mask of Zorro. The film had an interesting story and great acting from Banderas and Hopkins. But as I learned more and more about the sequel, I became extremely worried as neither of the two screenwriters (Ted Elliot or Terry Rossio) were returning. Also, we would be introduced to their cute little child (and EVERYONE knows how much adding little children to sequels can do for a film’s likea…ility). Could The Legend of Zorro take all these usual negatives and make a positive sequel? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
The first big problem with this film is the character of Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Elena, in the first film, was delight. She was funny and Zeta Jones’ performance was a joy. In this film, possibly because Zeta-Jones has blown up since then, it seems like the screenwriters don’t have anything better for Elena to do than nag her husband. This scenario results in Elena becoming the type of wife that says “NO!—YOU still need Zorro!” to her husband. To sum up her role in the film, she wants Zorro to stop ‘Zorroing’ because he is neglecting their only son. She threatens to leave Zorro if he puts the mask back on again. Naturally, Zorro promises not to.
Before I continue on, let me mention the child actor Adrian Alonso, who portrays Zorro’s child Joaquin. The child is extremely bright, having learned everything from spying on other peoples’ plots to shadowing on bad guys, all from his father. Yet, despite how bright the child is, he can’t figure out or even recognize that his own father is the masked wonder Zorro. Sure Zorro’s day-job keeps away from home a majority of the day, but maybe this is why Elena declares that he doesn’t even know his own son.
The plot of the film revolves around a few villains wanting to use a super-weapon with the goal of bringing the collapse of the union to protect their fellow citizens from “inferior races”, in this case being Zorro and all of his kind in reference to the hero type. Elena, seeing that Zorro didn’t keep his promise, leaves him and nearly hooks up with the villian, Armand (Rufus Sewell). Armand wants to use this weapon to eliminate all who are like Zorro. Armand loathes everything Zorro stands for.
The film is not as original and not as entertaining as the 1998 film. The film, for some reason, was also rated PG instead of the original PG-13 making the film look and feel like an after-school kiddy program. And the length of the film is way too long at nearly 2 and a half hours. I’m not a person to usual complain about lengths of films, but this was so long that I kept looking at my watch in amazement of how long this film was. The film feels like it was thrown together with a ton of explosions and a few sword-slashing scenes. It amazes me that Campbell directed this film and directed the first. The film feels like a totally different person directed it.
Although Alfonso succeeds in his portrayal of the cute child, Banderas and Jones are boring and vapid. Take this one scene where Zorro catches Elena after she left him. Zorro mentions “Armand is not the man he seems.” Elena snaps back “You have no idea who you think he is.” Zorro says: “I think I do.” Elena responds ever so wittingly: “No, you don’t because you don’t think.” It seems like the primary writer, Roberto Orci, needs a writing coach. What terrible dialogue! The original writers brought wit and humor to the original film. The Legend of Zorro had such potential to be a good film, but rather it took the sloppy Disneyesque route and the result is a big disappointment.
The Legend of Zorro is presented in a pristine 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio. Colors look clean, sharp and bright. The print shows little to no signs of dirt or damage from the theatrical run. There are a few notices of edge enhancements in some of the brighter desert scenes. Otherwise from this, the transfer is gorgeous!
We are given a Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio track which sounds impressive, especially in some of the louder explosion scenes. Due to the film being full of action, your subwoofer will be booming throughout while the explosions zip past your ears from the rear speakers. Dialogue sounds fairly clean and the score from James Horner, while not as lively as his score to the first film, comes off as a job well done. A fine audio presentation.
We are given a few interesting special features, most notable the commentary track.
- Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Cinematographer Phil Meheux. : This commentary, despite the film being less than fantastic, is full of soft-spoken old time stories and tons of class. Most notably, I did enjoy Campbell addressing all of the big time critics who did not like the sequel especially the accent of Rufus Sewell’s character. The commentary is worth a listen, but I would have preferred if Campbell maybe addressed the huge gap of time between the 1998 film and the 2005 film (why did it take 7 years to make the film)!
- Stunts: This feature focuses on the stunts of the film. Banderas, just like in the first film, did all his stunts on this film. I always find a film to be more credible if the actor does his own stunts. Especially some of the stunts in the film. It just brings that level of realism to a new level.
- Playing With Trains: This feature has Weta buddy Richard Taylor speak to us about how hard the whole crew worked to get the climactic train explosion down to the tee. Definitely worth a watch if you want to know the little things about how hard it is to make an explosion look realistic.
- Armand’s Party: This feature focuses on the huge outdoor party that starts the film. We get interviews from Banderas, Jones, and Campbell. We mostly learn about where they got the extra’s and how they put the whole scene together.
- Visual Effects: This features focuses on the CG work used in the film. We learn about the bigger scenes like the ending of the film and some lesser known scenes that we would have never guessed about (I won’t reveal them as it may ruin the film for some).
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get four deleted scenes with optional commentary from Director Martin Campbell. The scenes don’t really do much for the film’s story, but only add a few extension to some scenes that felt like they were abruptly shown.
- Multi-Angle Scene De-constructions: This feature, while very brief, deals with some of the bigger scenes being broken into a step-by-step process for further analyzing.
- Trailers: Here we get trailers for Open Season, Monster House, The Pink Pather, Memoirs of a Geisha, Sueno, The Gospel, and The Mask of Zorro.
What a film this could have been. The Legend of Zorro is not worth your time. The acting is rather dull, the action scenes are overdone and the running time is far too long. While the DVD does present nearly flawless picture and audio with a few noteworthy features, the film is so bad that I can’t recommend this to anyone. If you are looking for a good Zorro time, try 1998’s The Mask of Zorro or the classic Zorro TV show.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Cinematographer Phil Meheux
- Playing With Trains
- Visual Effects
- Deleted Scenes
- Multi-Angle Scene De-Constructions