Legend of Zorro

Has is really been nearly ten years since Mask of Zorro hit theaters? Wow, time flies. Mask of Zorro was a surprisingly fun movie and also rocketed Catherine Zeta-Jones to superstardom. Antonio Banderas and Zeta Jones both said that they would not do a sequel until they found a script they liked. Well, they should have waited further. Legend of Zorro takes what made the original fun - zippy dialogue, sexual tension, and decent stunts, and guts them. The sequel takes place a decade after the original. Alejandro/Zorro (Banderas, Shrek 2, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and Elena (Zeta-Jones, Ocean's Twelve, The Terminal) are married with child, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso, Innocent Voices). Alejandro's role as Zorro is straining his marriage, and he has been on the verge of retirement for years.

Here is where the largest problem of Legend of Zorro lies. Mask of Zorro started at the beginning. Legend of Zorro picks up at the end. What happened to the middle? Where does the audience get to see this new Zorro's legend grow in stature and become a better fighter? Instead, director Martin Campbell (Beyond Borders, Vertical Limit) treats his audience to Domesticated Zorro, a sometime superhero who whines about his wife. To make things worse, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (The Island), working off a story from Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean, Treasure Planet) fundamentally change the character of Elena (well, she's just as whiny as Alejandro is). It is perfectly conceivable that Zeta-Jones would not want to star in a sequel where she is a trophy wife, so the screenwriters turned her into a butt-kicking modern woman. It sounds like it could be fun, but instead is very forced.

Alejandro's refusal to focus completely on his family causes Elena to divorce him. The two bicker constantly (without much of the fireworks in the first) because Alejandro feels that the people still need Zorro. It is the middle of the nineteenth century, and Civil War is coming. California is readying for statehood, an event that some are working against. Alejandro spends a lot of time feeling sorry for himself, something that turns to anger once he sees Elena dating Armand (Rufus Sewell, A Knight's Tale, Bless the Child), a nobleman from Spain and an old friend of hers. There's more bickering, but beneath it all, Alejandro feels extremely suspicious. Elena is there because she is undercover. Now, this isn't spoiling anything because Zeta-Jones says so in every commercial, and there is some really obvious hints (two guys constantly staring bug-eyed in the background). There is something larger happening, and it's only a matter of time before Campbell lets viewers in on the secret. The last third of the movie is Zorro the way he should be, with fun stunts and lots of fighting.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 10 minutes, Rated PG for sequences of violence/peril and action, language, and a couple of suggestive moments.

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