In 1998, legendary swashbuckling hero Zorro returned to the big screen in The Mask Of Zorro. The film was
well-casted, putting Antonio Banderas in the black mask and cape and delivering the stunning Catherine Zeta-Jones a breakout
role. The PG-13 film was a near-instant classic, but suffered from some truly unnecessarily violent and gross content that
hindered the film from being a staple family film. 2005's The Legend Of Zorro is the belated sequel that tones down the
franchise for the family, albeit still remaining quite violent at times.
I have to admit that although it seems to have taken forever to finally give the film a sequel, it was great to see
Banderas and Zeta-Jones in their roles together again. Legend, having been toned down for family, is strung together
by more adult themes, building much of the story around the marital tension between Alejandro and Elena. Set ten years after
the 1998 story, the couple are raising their sun Joaquin, who knows nothing of his father's heroics, and barely knows him
because of his secrets. Elena has grown tired of Alejandro's role as Zorro and longs for him to settle down as the three of
them. The story weaves this element into the main plot quite well, offering a few interesting twists and turns along the way.
I was pleasantly surprised how good newcomer Adrian Alonso was as their son Joaquin. I have to admit I was quite
terrified how the two of them having a son would affect the film (let's not forget how silly and poorly executed the main
characters in The Mummy Returns having a son ended up being). Thankfully, I found the child to be a terrific little
actor who was able to be mischievous yet charming and believably emotional when needed. It was excellent to see Banderas don
the mask once again, and for Zeta-Jones to return to her firecracker of a role. Unfortunately, Zorro does take a back seat to
Joaquin and even the drama between Armand and Elena for good portions of the film. But some of Legend's best moments
is when Alejandro and Elena are interacting or the three are together.
The action was mixed. Some stunts were spectacular while a lot of the special effects were second-rate at best (the fire effects
were especially cheesy). It seemed kind of strange to watch Zorro fight and never stab anyone with his sword, but there was
plenty of gunfire and physical fighting in the film. But the violence surprised me at times. It's especially stuff like
a scene where a man's head is blown up by explosives off-screen that I was surprised to find in a PG film. There's also
another brief intense sequence where Elena finds a couple discolored dead men who had been murdered stashed in a closet.
Another scene involves a shoot-out at a ranch that leaves a character dead with his wife weeping hysterically over him.
It just seemed that some moments seemed rather heavy for a targeted younger audience.
The Legend Of Zorro possesses a sort of strange spirituality to it. McGivens, the chief villain in the film,
spouts scripture and commits evil and violent crimes in the name of the Lord. However, the film balances this out with the
presence of Friar Felipe who is more true to his faith, and Alejandro's leanings to seeking God's direction for his role as
Zorro. I was a little concerned with the portrayal of McGivens as being so evil while claiming to be a doer of God's work,
but I was glad to see the good guys given a healthy belief and devotion in the Father to contrast it. McGivens made for a
great villain, but his portrayal was still borderline to a degree.
All in all, I ended up really enjoying The Legend Of Zorro. It may not be as strongly written and played-out as
its predecessor The Mask Of Zorro, but it's a more than worthy sequel, and one of the better follow-ups for a series
in recent memory (not like the travesty Men In Black II or the silly and problematic Shanghai Knights, for
example). Most fans of the 1998 film should enjoy this installment, while those looking for an exciting family outing will
definitely find one in The Legend Of Zorro, but will want to proceed with caution nonetheless.
If you have any questions or comments about the film before you see it (if you
decide to), feel free to
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 11/2/05)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: Alejandro and Elena kiss very passionately
a few times during the film; Elena wears dresses common to the era the film takes place in that reveal varying amounts of
cleavage; We see Alejandro in a tub with his fellow Dons playing cards. He gets out and we see him drying
off with a towel (we don't see any nudity); Alejandro is wakened by a maid and he gets out of bed only to discover that he is naked (we
don't see anything); Elena and Alejandro slice their initials "E Z" into a man's underwear and we see the bare skin through
the cuts in his clothing
Vulgarity/Language: 1 incomplete "a" word, 1 "h*ll,"
1 "S.O.B." (in subtitles), 3 "G-d"
Alcohol/Drugs: We see Felipe and Alejandro drinking wine
at a party; Alejandro drinks a lot of wine very fast and gets completely drunk. We then see him drinking more from a bottle
later on and his horse drinking from the bottle too; Elena orders a double tequila; some other characters casually have wine or other kinds of
alcohol during the film
Blood/Gore: McGivens has a cross-shaped scar on his cheek;
Zorro hits McGivens in the jaw and we briefly see him spitting out his teeth with a little bit of blood; McGivens falls into
a patch of cacti and emerges with needles sticking out of his face (with just a little blood around his mouth); We see McGivens holding
a set of wooden teeth, sharpening them with a knife before putting them in his mouth; A character is shot off-screen and we see
them walk out of a building and collapse to the floor. We then see a little bit of blood on their shirt in the back where
they had been shot; We see a tiny bit of blood on a ripped
portion of Joaquin's sleeve, presumably from an unseen wound; We see two dead bodies that are discolored from being dead for
a little while, but aren't especially bloody or gory
Violence: The film is very violent for a PG-rated film:
We see many characters punched, kicked and slashed-at by swords; A vial of nitroglycerin is thrown at a character and explodes,
killing them (we don't see the aftermath); two men are murdered off-screen and we later see their non-gory corpses; a man
is shot, apparently dead, but we find later on that they've survived; a drop of nitroglycerin drips onto a character's
head and explodes, killing them (not shown); a character puts a wine bottle filled with nitroglycerin into the back of
someone's pants and throws them from a moving train. The person lands in a crowd of people (villains, of course), and
explodes, killing everyone; A train crashes and explodes, killing a villain. Other related violence occurs during the
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content (with a few exceptions). However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.