The Mask of Zorro

“All this sword play, and riding around on horses, it gives me a frightful headache.”

The legendary Zorro returns to the screen bringing honor and new life to swashbuckling tales of yesterday.  It’s refreshing to have an action movie where the violence actually means something and the usually senseless explosions and gunplay are replaced with realistic stunts and swordplay spiced with clever dialogue.  The Mask of Zorro delivers an entertaining amount of action and romance without dumbing down the content.

Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Don Diego, an aged Zorro who trains Alejandro, played by Antonio Banderas, to battle the villain Don Fafael, played by Stuart Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3).  If you watch Hopkins in his first action scene closely, you can see he’s truly having fun playing the hero.

Banderas (Desperado, Original Sin) fits right into Zorro with amazing swordwork (he did most of his own fighting) and focused charm that comes cleverly staged in each scene.

Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment, America’s Sweethearts) equals the two male leads in a star-making role while adding strength and beauty to a story full of engaging scenes and authentic settings.

Some parts of the adventurous story may seem predictable, but these elements function to keep the audience one step ahead of the characters.  Mask of Zorro has admirable heroes that sharply contrast many one-line action film characters who only use violence as a form of communicating their points.

Director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Vertical Limit) creates some great action sequences on mostly large sets that create a realistic world that the audience can really enjoy visually and intellectually.

Composer James Horner handles the exciting musical score and provides the music for the film’s great theme song, “I Want to Spend my Lifetime Loving You”, which was written by Will Jennings and performed by Marc Anthony and Tina Arena.

Steven Spielberg and Walter F. Parkes act as executive producers and the late Johnston McCulley, writer of many of the previous Zorro movies, receives credit as the character creator.

Great adventure film with a carefully planned plot that gives the audience true thrills and characters that can hold your interest even when the action stops.  A great visual experience that uses violence and emotion in admirable ways, just like a true action hero vehicle should.

Many exciting extras and bonuses accompany the DVD release including some deleted scenes (previously scene in a DVD released in England). Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for intense action and violence.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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