The Legend Of Zorro

The Legend Of Zorro

**1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Is it political correctness, or the need for modern audiences to relate to life in California in 1850, that requires a swashbuckling adventure yarn to open with a marital row about a husband's workaholism affecting his relationship with his son?

And if that isn't bad enough, what about the plot? Sidelining Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Alejandro's (Antonio Banderas) divorce, which wastes the first third of the movie with her new flirtation and his drunken self pity, this is about America being threatened by foreigners with a terrifying new weapon - no, not a nuclear device strapped to a suicide bomber, but nitroglycerine, capable of making holes in the earth that look like asteroid craters.

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There should be an acknowledgement in the credits: "This film is dedicated to George W Bush." Keep America free! From whom, from what? Enemies of democracy! Instead of Homeland Security this small southern Californian township has Zorro, a masked Batman figure, who comes riding to the rescue whenever the church bell rings.

Elena's had enough. Alejandro is always out saving the world. His 10-year-old son (Adrian Alonso) has become a stranger. She gives him an ultimatum - who hasn't heard this one? - either the job, or me.

"People still need Zorro, " Alejandro pleads.

"No," Elena says. "YOU need Zorro."

Has Mumsy been reading The Road Less Travelled?

There are movies that can't be bothered with fight choreography - two whacks with a table leg and that's it - and there are others that carry on forever, especially when it comes to the hero and villain's final confrontation (remember Tom Cruise and Dougray Scott on the beach at the end of Mission Impossible 2? Normal people would have died 10 times over). The Legend Of Z belongs in the latter camp and if you don't enjoy watching grown men beating the bejesus out of each other, forget it.

The story is like something Bulldog Drummond might have tackled, concerning a secret society of European industrialists who want to stop the burgeoning United States from getting too powerful. Their leader is Amand (Rufus Sewell, whose face appears to be affected by post-Botox paralysis), a Frenchman with acres of vineyards and a passion for Elena.

Once the action starts in earnest and the stunt doubles do their thing, the film is entertaining enough, although when Zorro leaps from a high rock onto the roof of a moving train, you do worry about the horse.

Banderas is especially good at finding the light touch. He has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humour. Zeta-Jones can't begin to match it. Forced into ball gowns at every opportunity, she looks ready for a Vogue photo shoot. Elena's role is important in the plot, but it is always Zorro you are waiting for.

Reviewed on: 25 Oct 2005
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Sword-fighting sequel, sees Zorro take on a racist preacher.
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Anton Bitel **1/2

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Adrian Alonso, Rufus Sewell, Giovanna Zacarias, Raul Mendez, Nick Chinlund

Year: 2005

Runtime: 130 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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