a critiQal film review The Legend of Zorro (2005)

Plot: Don Alejandro de La Vega (Banderas) has a secret - he is the man behind Zorro, the legendary hero of California. It's 1850, and as California votes to join the United States of America, Alejandro uncovers a plot to destroy the United States - involving Armand (Sewell), who just happens to be courting Alejandro's recent ex-wife Elena (Zeta-Jones). Now, Zorro must ride once again to save the United States - and his own family.

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  • ...matches the same excellent quality of it's predecessor, keeping the Zorro legend alive and kicking for another film.

After the huge success of The Mask of Zorro, it was inevitable that a sequel would churn it’s way out of the Hollywood machine. Since Heather and I both enjoyed the recent remake starring Antonio Banderas as the man behind the mask, we knew we were going to have to check out the sequel, The Legend of Zorro, as well.

But, would a sequel be able to compete with the film that brought the name of Zorro back into the limelight, or should this cash cow have been put out to pasture?

It’s always nice when the same characters return for a sequel. Antonio Banderas once again puts on the mask and the funny hat to play Zorro in The Legend of Zorro – and easily picks up right where he left off. Everything Antonio does in these films helps to further cement him in the minds of the viewers as the perfect casting choice for this role. His character immediately endears him to the viewers, and he leads the viewers on quite a ride throughout the film.

Catherine Zeta-Jones also returns as the love interest of the film, and slips back into her role just as easily as Antonio does. This time around, she gets more into the action, and she really steps up her performance because of it. As she battles her way around, you can see a hint of fire in her eyes – a spark that is easily recognizable in Antonio’s eyes as he battles through foe after foe.

But wait – in The Legend of Zorro, Zorro’s got a son! Thankfully, youngster Adrian Alonso seems to have been the perfect casting choice for this little troublemaker. He’s able to involve the audience as much as his “Papi”, without relying too much on cliched sayings or doe-eyed looks. If this is the future of the Zorro legacy, it looks like this franchise could continue for quite a few more films.

But what is a hero without a worthy opponent? This time around, Zorro faces off against two, portrayed by Rufus Sewell and Shuler Hensley. They team up to create a very formidable foes for our hero, using their acting talents to create two characters almost at opposite ends of the villain spectrum. While Rufus Sewell’s suave acting style works to his benefit in portraying the wealthy aristocrat Armand, Shuler Hensley’s rather brusque acting style aids him in his role as the outlaw Pike. With these two nemesis facing off against Zorro, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him this time!

The plot of The Legend of Zorro is extremely well put together, and each scene flows seamlessly into the next. From the exciting ballot box wagon chase in the beginning to a climatic sequence at the end involving a locomotive, The Legend of Zorro will keep viewers’ eyes glued to the screen.

Equally impressive is how the film seems a true continuation of The Mask of Zorro. The films fit together so well the viewer would easily be able to watch them back to back and convince themselves they were really watching two parts of the same film. Thankfully, the filmmakers stayed true to the original film in tone as well, trying to keep the film upbeat and full of promise, creating a truly fun atmosphere for the film that most hero pictures strive for – but most never achieve.

The visual effects of The Legend of Zorro fit in so well with the film, the viewer will be hard pressed to tell what was real and what was created in post-production. The action sequences are all wonderfully shot, and the camera never looks to be constrained by certain shots. Very impressive to achieve that level of realism in post-production that could fool the viewer so thoroughly. It definitely adds a bit to the enjoyment of the film to watch the featurettes afterwards, just to see what was real and what wasn’t.

Thankfully, The Legend of Zorro easily manages to match the same excellent quality of it’s predecessor The Mask of Zorro. Rest assured doubters, The Legend of Zorro keeps the Zorro legend alive and kicking for yet another film. Buy this one today – Antonio and Catherine will not disappoint.

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