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Alejandro De La Vega, known as Zorro to the masses,
Has defended for ten years all of the helpless lower classes,
But his faithful wife Elena wants her husband to be done
So he’ll spend time with Joaquin, their mini-Zorro of a son.
 
California will soon join the Union as its newest state,
And a bandit named McGivens wants to stop this favored fate.
Zorro stops him once but later cannot save a man in need
When McGivens tries to threaten him and plunder his land’s deed.
 
In the meantime, Alejandro is confronted with divorce,
And Elena soon is dating with no inkling of remorse.
Her beau Armand, a wealthy count, sparks Alejandro’s rage;
Joaquin is likewise angry when the couple get engaged.
 
Joaquin, while snooping round McGivens, catches on a rope,
But Zorro saves him, bringing from the scene a bar of soap.
Alejandro is abducted by the Pinkertons and jailed.
They explain that all this time the pair have had his wife blackmailed.
 
Since they knew who Zorro was, Elena bowed to all their wishes
And has since been undercover, for Armand is quite suspicious.
Alejandro gets Joaquin to break him out so he can mount
His devoted steed Tornado and go spy upon the count.
 
Pairing up with brave Elena, they hear from Armand’s own mouth
How he’ll give a new explosive to the war-preparing South.
He disposes of the Pinkertons and learns Elena’s ploy,
Catching her, as well as Zorro and their wily little boy.
 
He unmasks Don Alejandro, to his son’s surprise and shock,
And departs by train to transport his unstable bottled stock.
Zorro finishes McGivens and swashbuckles with Armand
While Joaquin prevents a crowd from blowing to the great beyond.
 
Alejandro and Elena flee before the train careens,
But Armand is not so lucky and is blown to smithereens.
As the lovers marry once again, their country now a state,
Zorro’s called to save the day and is supported by his mate.
_____________________
 

The Legend of Zorro is not as good as its predecessor, The Mask of Zorro, featuring more silly humor and a plot full of historical inaccuracies, but it delivers the swashbuckling action that makes any Zorro movie enjoyable. Many critics disliked it, and I admit it does have some less-than-ideal elements, but most of them can be countered: Zorro’s son is rather irritating and bratty in his Scrappy-Doo enthusiasm, but he clearly takes after his father, though more as he was at the beginning of the first film; Alejandro and Elena spend much of the movie bickering and drunk on his part, but to be fair, most of this was due to her being blackmailed by the Pinkertons (who weren’t even called that in 1850); and I didn’t care for McGivens’s twisted quoting of Scripture to justify his wicked acts, but more faithful Christianity is still presented by the heroes, such as Alejandro’s heartfelt prayer in the church and a cross necklace saving the life of a priest. Thus, it may be a mixed bag, but it’s a mostly entertaining one.

Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are as appealing as ever, even when their characters aren’t, and I was impressed by Rufus Sewell as Count Armand since, before this, I had only seen him in the very different role of abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in Amazing Grace. Armand is intimidating, but Nick Chinlund plays a much more menacing villain in McGivens. Also, (Lost alert!) Michael Emerson, who went on to play the diabolical Ben Linus on my favorite show, appears as one of the Pinkertons wearing muttonchops.

The movie most excels at its action. It may not be as frequent as the previous films, but the fight scenes are wondrously choreographed, and the final showdown is a standout among train-related conclusions. Some of it can be downright ridiculous, like a horse jumping onto a moving train (though the horse’s reaction to what comes next is priceless), but the climactic explosion is truly spectacular. I was annoyed at several mentions of the “Confederate” states when the Confederacy had not been formed in 1850, but overall the film is not as bad as many critics made it out to be, so it really is a shame that there were no further Zorro sequels. Since Hollywood has been redoing just about every franchise lately, I’m sure they’ll get around to rebooting Zorro sooner or later, though I can’t see anyone else satisfactorily replacing the two leads.

Best line: (Joaquin, not knowing his father’s secret, after his father defeats a bunch of prison guards) “Where did you learn to do that?” (Alejandro) “Prison changes a man.”

 
Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 6
Watchability: 7
Other (violence and aforementioned issues): -2
 
TOTAL: 39 out of 60
 

Next: #226 – Forget Paris

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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