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The Legend of Zorro (PG)

Antonio Banderas in The Legend of Zorro

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director And Cinematographer Commentary; Deleted Scenes With Optional Directors Commentary; Behind The Scenes Featurettes; Stunts; Visual Effects; Armand’s Party; Playing With Trains; Two Multi Angle Scene Deconstructions.

IT’S been seven years since Antonio Banderas first delighted audiences in The Mask of Zorro, so this belated sequel seems long overdue.

But while The Legend of Zorro boasts some superb set pieces and another charismatic turn from Banderas himself, it lacks the sparkle of its predecessor and is way too long for its own good.

The film is set several years after the conclusion of the previous adventure as Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) continues to fight the good fight on behalf of the poor and needy as his alter-ego, Zorro.

As California prepares to become the 31st state of the American union, several members of a mysterious medieval organisation, led by a French artistocrat named Armand (Rufus Sewell), determine to prevent this from ever taking place.

Zorro, needless to say, becomes caught up in this struggle, particularly as his continued heroics have placed him at odds with his wife, Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), who seeks unlikely solace in the arms of Armand, a former schoolmate.

Thrown into the mix are Alejandro’s 10-year-old son, Joaquin, who idolises Zorro but disrespects his father, and a corrupt baron named McGivens (Nick Chinlund), who has begun a campaign of intimidation and violence against the law-abiding residents of California in a bid to seize their land.

As complex as all this sounds, however, the plot feels like a flimsy device to separate Alejandro and Elena just so that they can reunite them later.

While the heavy-handed approach to stressing the importance of family (a familiar Hollywood theme) quickly becomes annoying.

The Legend of Zorro works best during the set pieces, which boast some superb choreography and a nice line in tongue-in-cheek revellry.

A train sequence, in particular, provides a rousing finale, while several of the sword fights along the way provoke fond memories of some of the classic Hollywood swashbucklers of old.

The only niggle is that in opting to keep things family-friendly director Martin Campbell has forgotten to give Zorro any bite, meaning that for all of the expertise he displays with a sword, the pointy bit never goes where it’s supposed to – hence villains keep coming back for more.

Viewers in search of some easy-going, classically-staged thrills are well catered for but there are times when the sequel feels a little too slick and workman-like for its own good.

An efficent sequel then, but one that lacks the cutting edge of the original – much like Zorro’s blade!