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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Retro Review: The Legend Of Zorro (2005)

The Legend of Zorro
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Catherine-Zeta Jones, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso Barona
Genre: Swashbuckler
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $142 million

Plot: Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega - & his wife to take action

'More Like Legend of Zzzzz.... A Spiritless & Belated Sequel That Dwindles'

One of a number of movies produced and distributed by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, The Legend of Zorro is a follow-up that was undeservedly given the green-light treatment, as well as being produced, as a result of the huge financial success of its 1998 prequel. Yet this particular effort is stifled by its precarious decision to divert to a rom-com like structure and that it came out 7/8 years too late. By this point on, Banderas and Zeta-Jones, whose status was propelled by The Legend of Zorro, lost their fervour and star appeal. 

If The Mask of Zorro catapulted and elevated their Hollywood statuses, then The Legend of Zorro managed to demote them. 

The plot veers similarly towards that of True Lies, only it is executed in a dry and unspectacular fashion: the masked avenger in Alejandro de la Vega, is still somersaulting and sword fighting his way, who by the way has a son by the name of the cloying Joaquin, is now facing the disintegration of his marriage, as his wife Elena is fed up with him leading and living a double-life & grants him a divorce. Whilst her new French suitor, leading antagonist and romantic false lead played by Rufus Sewell captures her charms. Unknownst to Elena, he wrecks havoc in California.

The chemistry between Alejandro and Elena that was apparent in the first film has dispersed, as they no longer can generate enough heat and sexual conviction as they once did. Zeta-Jones's Elena comes across more as a diva, who becomes sort of unfaithful to her husband and her attitude becomes grating. The ongoing bickering of those two may divert from the film and give something more to work with, but here it feels rather out of place and forced; it's like the writers threw that in because they want this film to differentiate from its prequel. As it (shamelessly) piles on the will they/won't they exploit of the troubled coupling, it becomes more exasperating. 

The Mask of Zorro was not only charming, it was efficient, entertaining, the narrative was more engrossing & the action was more believable and felt less phoned in. On the contrary, The Legend of Zorro has almost none of these things. As I was watching this, thoughts crossed my mind as to how this film feels so un-Zorro like and it has none of the appeal of The Mask of Zorro: its old-fashioned Indiana-Jones based adventure and tone have been dispensed, with the run-of-the-mill dialogue in its place. The scene with mini Zorro, Joaquin and his teacher where the little guy whips his butt, is silly. The needless and unnecessary Joaquin existed to draw in the younger audience, more so than for any other reason.

Everything about The Legend of Zorro, from the failed romance, the action, the bloated 2+hour runtime, the bloodless & lacklustre swordfights, the addition of a child character in Joaquin & the banal story to the unflattering image of a drunk & irate Alejandro, just aren't that impressive to go by and it feels not only overdue but also sluggish & half-baked. The charm of The Mask of Zorro is virtually gone. 

The Legend of Zorro was mostly, sorrow. 

Final Verdict:

Fails to recapture the essence of what The Mask of Zorro had stood for and achieved. With the rather hackneyed ''will they/won't they'' reconciliation of Alejandro and Elena that I didn't give two cents for, which was a sheer waste of time and its stale story, this Z didn't mark the spot. 

Suffice to say one Zorro film was enough and one that didn't warrant a sequel of any sorts. Including this one. 

& it's beyond mediocre.


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