‘The Legend of Zorro’ not worth eight bucks

The Legend of Zorro is a fun, entertaining family film. Which means there is absolutely no reason to see it in theaters.

Nothing about this movie requires the overpriced discomfort of a movie theater. While it is enjoyable, anyone intending to see this movie should just wait for it to come out on DVD.

The Legend of Zorro follows the events seen in The Mask of Zorro. California is on the verge of becoming a state, and Zorro must now try to ensure that nothing goes wrong. At the same time he has to deal with a deteriorating relationship with his wife and an alienated son with no idea that his father is Zorro.

In The Legend of Zorro, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reprise the roles they palyed in 1998’s The Mask of Zorro. Without Anthony Hopkins, however, the sequel lacks the elegance of the first film, which in itself failed to fill the extraordinary shoes of the original Zorro series.

Banderas, an actor fully capable of playing suave characters, plays Zorro as a gruff, comical oaf with only brief moments of style and grace. While this matches perfectly the character introduced in The Mask of Zorro, it doesn’t work as well without Hopkins nearby to show him what true class is.

The comedy is both the film’s greatest detriment and its greatest asset. While the film is packed full of moments that will have any viewer rolling on the floor in laughter, it becomes overkill when combined with a legendary icon like Zorro.

The old television show contained humor of course, but most of it came from Bernardo, Sgt. Garcia and Cpl. Reyes, supporting characters one and all. In The Legend of Zorro, far too much of the humor is left to Zorro himself and, in some cases, his horse.

The horse is where the extraneous humor is most obvious. Okay, having the horse get drunk is a stretch, but bearable. Having the horse smoke a pipe made the movie feel a little too much like Mr. Ed, but at least it was worth a chuckle. But when the horse’s eyes widen in cartoonish shock a la Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, it becomes impossible to take the film seriously anymore.

Less obviously, many scenes are designed and shot in the fashion of a comedy. The way Zorro pops into the frame from below in one scene already sets the stage for comedy, even before he turns to his horse with an overacted “Shhhh!” Then again, what can be expected from a film where a hat tossed from a considerable distance can deliver as much force as a strong punch?

Unfortunately, the movie is not good enough to ask viewers to endure the prices, the numbing seats, the lack of bathroom breaks, or the overpiced junk food of movie theaters. The Legend of Zorro should only be seen in the comfort of one’s own home, and only when there’s not anything better to watch.


This review originally ran in The Clackamas Print.

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