The Legend of Zorro (2005)
The Legend of Zorro (2005)

Genre: Action and Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 9 min.

Release Date: October 28th, 2005 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Martin Campbell Actors: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nick Chinlund, Rufus Sewell, Giovanna Zacarias, Leo Burmester, Pedro Armendariz, Fernando Becerril, Tony Amendola

 


 

A

s the people of California starve and suffer in 1850, the governor’s proclamation puts a historic vote on the map – to determine whether or not the territory will become the 31st state of America. At the polling station in San Mateo, the result is an overwhelming push for statehood. But just as the ballots are sent away in a locked iron box, disfigured mercenary Jacob McGivens (Nick Chinlund) arrives with a newfangled repeating rifle and a squadron of armed men to harass the citizens, disrupt the democratic process, and steal the results.

Fortunately, one of the earlier voters is none other than legendary vigilante warrior Zorro – or Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) – who swoops in from a lofty perch to singlehandedly save the day. But despite the townsfolk cheering his heroism, upon his return to his home, his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is profoundly disappointed to learn that he’s not retiring as promised. It will still be another three months before the unification is complete; Zorro is still needed. “You are missing your son’s entire life!”

The director and the stars return (along with the rousing music by James Horner), continuing the swashbuckling adventures of the famously masked, black-garbed sword fighter. So too does supporting actor Tony Amendola, though he plays a different character. It’s been around 7 years since the last film, but the tone hasn’t changed, favoring amusing stunts and over-the-top derring-do rather than a sensible story, as well as building up a large assortment of uniquely designed villains (“I would remember a man with wooden teeth”) – from the suspicious Count Armand (Rufus Sewell) to a conspiratorial Alabama infantry commander to numerous henchmen (one of which is straight out of a James Bond movie). Fortunately, there’s plenty of humor in the script to counter the adversities and to amplify the action (there’s even an interesting homage to “Cat Ballou”). The flavor of this follow-up is so complementary that the downgrade in severity (from PG-13 to PG) isn’t even noticeable.

This time around, while dealing with familial dramas and politics and historical events (like before), Alejandro must also contend with a growing alienation with his son (Adrian Alonso), marital discord, and a crisis of faith. Relatedly, the don faces the discomfort of having his boy think that he’s a coward – though the youngster’s role in the bigger picture feels forced, as if utilized solely because Alejandro having a child was previously established, and because most of his scenes are cute, added for comic relief, or spell out for the audience various obvious messages. There are almost too many subplots coursing through the film, requiring an overabundance of characters that stretches out the running time.

Nevertheless, the humorous moments are terribly effective, while the romance and action (including a wealth of unbelievable timing coincidences and convenient props) are thoroughly entertaining. This faithful sequel’s major fault just might be that it’s so similar to its predecessor (with corresponding predicaments, antagonists, and plot developments) that it fails to stand out; when measured up to the original, this episode is essentially forgettable. But as it’s transpiring, it’s quite enjoyable.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10