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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.81%
Worth A Look48.11%
Average: 18.87%
Pretty Bad: 10.38%
Total Crap: 2.83%

8 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Mask of Zorro, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Fair diversion; could've been better."
3 stars

'The Mask of Zorro' is the antithesis of the summer blockbuster as we've come to know it lately: no CGI (well, none that I noticed), relatively few explosions (two), action scenes you can easily follow (this is fast becoming a lost art).

In short, it's everything I want from a hot-weather adventure movie. Well ... almost everything. Zorro is crisp and competent and often witty, but it only does what it's supposed to do; it's never quite inspired or exhilarating, despite the deft stuntwork and acting.

The movie begins in the early 1800s, when the nobleman Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) is drawn to a public execution. This nobleman, of course, is Zorro, protector of the weak and poor; he short-circuits the execution and barely escapes with the help of two urchins (he's getting too old for this). Zorro's nemesis, the evil Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), tracks him down to his hacienda, killing his young wife and stealing his baby daughter before tossing him in jail.

Cut to twenty years later. The urchins are now grown men; one of them is Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), who watches his brother die at the hands of a vicious Army captain (Matt Latscher). In a tavern, Alejandro meets Diego, who has recently escaped from prison. The old Zorro sees that the time has come for a new Zorro. He trains the undisciplined Alejandro in swordplay and manners.

Zorro seems intended as the start of a franchise, and I'm all for it in theory: a series of adventure movies (as opposed to action movies) whose thrills depend more on ingenuity and stuntwork than on special effects. Such a series might fill the void left when Steven Spielberg retired Indiana Jones. But Zorro's director, Martin Campbell, is no Spielberg. In GoldenEye, Campbell showed a solid grasp of action-movie mechanics. What he lacks is the wit and deviltry that surprise a laugh out of you and kick the action up a notch -- turn a good sequence into a great one.

A fencing bout between Banderas and the Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, as Diego's long-lost daughter Elena (whom Don Rafael claimed as his own child), shows what a good Zorro movie should be. As the mutually attracted Zorro and Elena cross swords, each impressed by the other's moves, the scene develops a playful erotic rhythm. (It's too bad Campbell cheapens it by having Zorro cut away Elena's clothes -- Zorro should be more chivalrous than that. It would've been a better gag the other way around.) And there's a nicely understated scene between Elena and Diego, who's posing as Alejandro's servant. Hopkins, a master of repressed emotion, can stand there and do nothing and still make you feel how much he loves this daughter who has no idea who he is.

Aside from those scenes, Elena is essentially secondary to the action, and we don't really get a sense of the relationship between the two Zorros. The movie is a bit rushed -- weeks of training are telescoped into a montage -- and the structure is lumpy. There's too much set-up at the beginning, and I began to feel that the whole double-Zorro idea was unnecessary, a stunt to get Anthony Hopkins in the movie. He's fine here, and Banderas has some good light moments, too, but he's covered in facial hair too much of the time -- he could be anyone.

And the double-revenge plot is boredom squared. I kept flashing back to The Princess Bride: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" -- and it was done better then. Rob Reiner and William Goldman struck the perfect balance between picaresque goofing around -- the parodic derring-do of Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks -- and emotional payoffs. This Zorro seems too locked into its revenge plot, like Lethal Weapon with swords; it needs more scenes that are there just for the sheer playful hell of it. Instead it has needlessly violent fight scenes (Zorro slicing a Z into his enemies loses its charm when you can see the blood) and even severed body parts in jars.

'Zorro' needed the light touch of Robert Rodriguez, who was going to direct it until budget disputes with exec-producer Spielberg forced him out. Knowing Rodriguez, he probably wanted to make the movie cheaper and shorter and funnier. Instead, it's expensive and long and not nearly as funny as it should have been.

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originally posted: 01/15/07 15:35:31
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User Comments

12/12/09 Slapper Stinking suck-fest..! 1 stars
10/05/06 R.W.Welch Borderline brilliant at times. Could have been tighter. 4 stars
6/22/06 TB Hopkins was the only one, who was the best Zorro 3 stars
5/19/06 chienne Loved it. Harmless fun 4 a story we all know 5 stars
4/21/06 Becky I liked it quite a bit. Banderas kicks ass and looks good doing it. Same for Zeta-Jones 4 stars
2/14/06 ES Suckiedy, suck, suck. Suckiedy, suck, suck, look at Zorro blow 1 stars
11/26/05 Estefilla yay 5 stars
10/16/05 Quigley banderas and hopkins are awesome as usual, but they can't save this really dull film 3 stars
10/07/05 Wisamane Fucking "A" 5 stars
11/04/04 John a slick package and entertains in parts but in the end feels very uninspired 3 stars
10/01/04 Aaron Smith Quite fun, Hopkins, Zeta-Jones, and Banderas are charming. 4 stars
9/05/04 DM Zorro 4 stars
8/19/04 courtney banderas will still the hart of every woman that watches it 5 stars
5/14/04 Agent Sands A overall great burrito western. 5 stars
12/09/03 Samuel Great action movie, Strong performances, a very good movie!! 5 stars
10/11/03 SuperBarbie2003 This is a fantastic movie. Definately worth a look!!! 5 stars
3/27/03 Jen I liked this movie, but the sword fight scene in the barn was just totally unnecessary. 4 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum Very good action 5 stars
7/21/02 KMG Interesting: all three leads are sexy and the colors are vibrant...OLE! 4 stars
7/11/02 Frances not to be watched more than twice but a good story, banderas is nice apart frm the afro 5 stars
4/04/02 cat This movie was the highlight of my high school career. CZJ turned ordinary extraordinary! 5 stars
1/12/02 Faith Benz The MOST AMAZING FILM ever to be created in this world! and Banderas is stunning! 5 stars
11/30/01 Andrew Carden Movie That Even Zeta-Jones Can't Help. Fair Scripts and Acting. 2 stars
10/27/01 Connoisseur typical big Hollywood production-- too overblown and not as exciting as old swashbucklers 3 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat Zorro is no gay blade. 5 stars
5/28/01 cinkcool Good Movie. 4 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin a lot of action scenes, but a lot of plot holes. 4 stars
8/11/00 Terrie Smith Pretty good actioner; Zeta-Jones brightens up the screen. 4 stars
6/24/00 Naushad Khanji Not Swashbuckling enough.Tepid story.Where is Richard Lester?. 2 stars
2/10/00 Richard Wright Decent swashbuckler with well choreographed sword fights and a refreshing sense of humour. 4 stars
1/17/00 Dirk Diggler very good movie 5 stars
1/14/00 henry hill a very well done and entertaining film 5 stars
10/27/99 Katherine Catherine Zeta and Antonio Banderas are just great in this movie! NICEcouple 5 stars
8/12/99 Merry It 2 stars
7/27/99 Eric Entertaining in the first half, but gets boring and repetitive in the second half. 2 stars
7/08/99 Scott Predictable, but Catherine is dreamy. *sigh* 4 stars
6/03/99 Matthew Bartley Catherine Zeta, Catherine Zeta, Catherine Zeta... 4 stars
4/24/99 lucas jackson Matilda,funny,exciting,action packed and full of thrills,the best part made for all ages 5 stars
4/04/99 Albert CZJ makes the tip of my sword quiver. Strange, so does Banderas. Hmmm... 5 stars
1/10/99 Diogenesnutz Not terribly innovative, but a lot of fun. 4 stars
1/08/99 MRHOLLYWOOD !! A dull action movie!,Hopkins looks lost,Banderas LOVES himself alot & Zeta-jones is sexy!! 3 stars
1/06/99 famillier The Spanish babe (no, not Antonio!) makes it worth the ticket. 5 stars
1/01/99 Lindsay Had it's moments, but all in all, just average. 3 stars
12/31/98 JDC It's about time we had high adventure without corniness. Zorro delivers. 4 stars
12/30/98 Jules Entertaining but tiresome as well. Just too much rediculousness. 3 stars
12/28/98 Lucy B. Not that original but surprisingly entertaining. Worth seeing for Hopkins performance alone 4 stars
12/01/98 Kirgo why could zeta-jones character not understand SPANISH???? 4 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo Cath Zeta-Jones should be the next Lara Croft. She is just awesome in this film. Good film 5 stars
10/18/98 Sailor Moon Ate My Balls Doesn't suck much, well worth it. 4 stars
10/01/98 katherine i got dragged to see it, and im glad i didnt refuse! this is 1 action movie that i like! 5 stars
9/26/98 B.O.B Could have been better - ALOT better! 2 stars
9/15/98 Negative Creep Like Dark Knight Returns, only not as good. Anthony Hopkins was nifty as the old Zorro. 3 stars
9/04/98 Badass i liked it when I saw it. But now I'm having trouble remembering it. 4 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Really, really enjoyable. Really. 5 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet A good movie. Forget Hopkins' awful make-up early on. Zeta-Jones is luscious. 4 stars
8/13/98 {{OZ}} Didn't suck much at all. Surprisingly enjoyable 4 stars
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  18-Jul-1998 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005


  26-Dec-1998 (M)

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