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The Mask of Zorro

The Mask of Zorro

What She said:

She

The movie is an oldie; it dates all the way back to 1998.  Oh, the glory days.  Anyway, while it may be several years old at this point, the film still provides a fresh approach to the tale of Zorro.  For those of you who don’t know, Zorro is a 19th century Mexican Batman, a guy who fights the powerful Dons and stands up for the commoners.  The movie initially follows the original Zorro, played by Anthony Hopkins, but the evil Don Rafael Montero finds out Zorro’s identity, Don Diego de la Vega, and punishes de la Vega by killing his wife, stealing his infant daughter, and burning down his house.  De la Vega ends up imprisoned for quite some time, and thus, Zorro disappears from the community.  Twenty years later Montero returns from exile in Spain with de la Vega’s daughter, Elena, in tow.  This does not sit well with de la Vega, and so he breaks out of prison and begins his quest to get his daughter back.  He happens upon a thief, Alejandro Murrieta, who he decides to take under his wing—his muscles of sorts—and teaches Murrieta to rise again as the new Zorro.  The new Zorro, and the old one for that matter, plan to bring down Montero and the Dons, restore the community to peace, and reacquaint de la Vega with the beautiful Elena.

Ok, so that was a very long plot description.  That’s because the movie is quite long.  It’s not the most complex plot ever, but there’s a lot happening, because, at its core, this is a total action movie.  It feels like a classic good guy/bad guy flick.  There’s lots of sword fighting, jumping off the roofs of buildings, and swinging from ropes.  And Zorro has a pretty awesome horse who he calls by whistling.  What The Mask of Zorro also has is a surprising and refreshing amount of humor.  It’s not a comedy, that’s for sure, but there is a certain amount of levity that makes the film all the more appealing.  My only complaint about this movie is that the plot gets a bit lost at times.  But it seems to find its way well enough.  You’ll love to hate the villains in this movie, and will be rooting for the dashing Zorro the whole way through.  One thing that surprised me was how this movie had the potential to become cheesy—with a grown man running around with a mask and cape—but it didn’t.  How they managed to walk that fine line impressed me.  Good performances all around, and an enjoyable, albeit long action flick.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

It’s 1821 and Mexico has got all kinds of problems. There is a war for independence going on and the man leading the way is Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson). He wants to be in charge when the dust settles and is willing to do just about anything to get his way. His plan involves handing over power to a group of his Dons with him overseeing the bunch of them. Little does he realize that one of them – Don Diego de la Vega – is actually is the mysterious freedom fighter Zorro!  Montero eventually catches on and storms de la Vega’s (Anthony Hopkins) home – killing his wife and stealing his child. He is then imprisoned for the next 20 years and Montero is exiled back to Spain.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and Montero once again comes to Mexico from Spain hoping to make it his own little republic.  This sets a fire under de la Vega and he escapes from prison and begins to plot his revenge. While doing so, he encounters a thief named Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas). Alejandro has a personal vendetta against Montero’s right hand man Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Alejandro reluctantly agrees to help him and eventually evolves into the new Zorro.

Things get even more complicated when Montero’s daughter Elena – who is really de la Vega’s long lost child – enters the scene. Alejandro develops feelings for her and de la Vega is reminded of his past tragedy now more than ever. Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) also seems to have feelings for the mysterious freedom fighter despite the fact he’s a thorn in her “father’s” side.

The Mask of Zorro is an old-school style adventure movie. It has all the elements I feel are necessary for a classic adventure film: action, romance, and laughs. The movie combines all three and does so well. It is the kind of thing you find in an Indiana Jones, Back to the Future (reviews here), or Star Wars (reviews here) movie. Outside of John Carter (review here), I can’t think of many movies that succeeded in creating the kind of fun adventure. Did Hollywood stop making these kinds of movies or are they simply no good that I can’t even recognize them anymore? Either way, this is one of the good ones. It’s funny, got good action, and some great villains. 

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on July 10, 2012.