It's the early 1800s. After Zorro's (Anthony Hopkins) last battle for freedom, the evil Spanish governor of Alta California, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), discovers his identity (as Don Diego) & throw's him into jail, but not before stealing his baby daughter, burning down his mansion, & accidentally murdering his wife. 20 years later, the "old Zorro" escapes from prison & recruits an old friend, Alejandro (Antonio Banderas), who is now a thief, to be trained as the new Zorro. With both bent on revenge (Alejandro wanting to avenge his brother's murder), Don Diego teaches Alejandro everything he knows & prepares him to defend the Mexicans from Montero, while Diego gets his daughter back.
That Mexican version of Batman we all know and love returns to the big screen, but this time, you get two Zorros for the price of one. The Mask of Zorro is the summer movie for 1998! Despite some content, the acting is superb, the humor strong, and Banderas makes a perfect Zorro. Let's start off by addressing the violence of the film. The very worst is a scene where we see a decapitated head floating in a jar, followed by a dismembered hand floating in another. Zorro has always been a character for the famil and it seemed odd and unnecessary to make the latest theatrical adventure so violent. Dismemberments aside, characters are stabbed and cut up, with one character impaled by a sword. Some other content is also shown or implied, making the film more intense and brutal than it really needs - or should - be.
Sexual content was minor for the most part. We see a few soldier tied naked facing a bunch of cacti, giving us an unwanted view of their bare butts. In another scene, Alejandro playfully cuts off Elena's dress in a dual, but her long hair covers anything explicit, and nothing specific is seen.
I enjoyed Martin Campbell's retelling of the famous legendary story. Antonio Banderas' placement in the role of Zorro is inspired to say the least and Catherine Zeta-Jones was a wonderful choice. She's a beautiful actress who has a lot of promise. I look forward to seeing many more films for her. Hopkins, who's British in real life, is a strange choice for the original Zorro who passes the blade down to Alejandro, but manages to offer a lot of charm and authority to the role.
Overall, I really enjoyed the The Mask of Zorro. However, due to the graphic violence, I can't give this film any higher than four stars. It's a shame Campbell and company couldn't make this more for families given Zorro's widespread appeal, but perhaps if future installments follow, this could be corrected.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 8/8/98)
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 exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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