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My Review of The Mask of Zorro

A sweeping epic tale of romance, deception, honor, and revenge, The Mask of Zorro carries us to an enchanted land of long ago, a time of treachery and betrayal. Wealthy Don Diego de le Vega is better known as "Zorro," the masked man who fights for the good of the people. His sworn enemy, Raphael Montero, once-lover of Esperanza (now Diego's wife) and Governor of California, is being forced to flee due to Santa Anna's invasion, but he wishes to leave a parting gift... the carcass of Zorro. Unfortunately for Montero, he underestimates Diego, and winds up permanently marked himself... with the sign of the Z. Furious, but believing himself to be right in that Diego is responsible, he storms to the hacienda, where Diego has promised his wife that Zorro will ride no more, and makes an arrest.

In the fray, Esperanza is killed, taking the bullet meant for her husband, and Montero kidnaps the baby Elena to raise as his own daughter in Spain, sentencing Diego to a lifetime in prison. Twenty years pass before Diego again sees the face of his enemy, as Montero returns safely to California, with the beautiful and very adult Elena upon his arm. Also accompanying them is the ruthless Captain Harrison Love, who makes an enemy out of a bandito when he forces his brother to kill himself. This thief, Alejandro, has sworn himself to revenge, and meets Diego on the way. 

Diego sees a way to pay Raphael back - by resurrecting the "long-dead"  Zorro, in the youth of this lad, and begins to train him to take over the mask, but Alejandro's passions are untamable, and his eye is for the lovely Elena. Encountering her in the chapel, and hearing her confession, he knows without a doubt that they are meant for one another, but cannot understand why his master will not tell him of the past. 

No doubt one of my favorite movies of all time, The Mask of Zorro is ideal for everyone... there's enough romance and gorgeous scenery (as well as a dashing hero) for the ladies, while still leaving plenty of swashbuckling adventure and sword play (not to mention the gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones) for the man of the house. Anthony Hopkins some thought was miscast in the role, but I believe he pulled it off wonderfully, with just the amount of passion and expression for the part. Antonio Banderas has been quoted as saying that his lifelong dream as a child was to play the part of Zorro, and in this epic, he got his chance. Charismas, and hilarious, on-screen and off, Banderas lived and breathed his part. Zeta-Jones, of course, in her first major blockbuster role (which gained her worldwide recognition) was ideal for the part of the beautiful and strong-willed Elena, whether dancing romantically with Alejandro, engaging in a verbal battle with the Dons, or whipping out a fencing foil of her own in a challenge. 

 The fencing in this epic is excellent! Choreographed by the same man to arrange the saber battles in the Star Wars films, he throws in superb parries and thrusts to keep you on the edge of your seat, while mixing in a great deal of fancy footwork. The entire film is simply breathtaking, from the gorgeous California backdrop to the elaborate haciendas and intricately-designed costumes. The soundtrack is spirited and lifting, with the same general "Zorro" theme that runs throughout, keeping the story together as neatly as a pressed seam. And with forty stuntmen working on one production, you can bet there's going to be plenty of heart-pounding adventure, escalating in a climax you'll never forget.

Rated PG13 for violence and sensuality, there's little here to be offended by, unless you can't stand blood. The violence is done in a lighthearted and favorable manner, without gore, and there's very little blood. There's a great deal of kicking, fighting, hitting and stabbing. Several people are killed on-screen (one shoots himself, another is impaled,  and one falls from a cliff) and there's an unsettling and rather sick glimpse of a head and a hand in a jar on Captain Love's desk. (He shows them to shock and disgust Alejandro.)

 Sensuality is a matter of opinion. There's a brief rear nudity of some soldiers Alejandro and his brother left tied around a cactus, and Elena and Alejandro engage in a rather "spirited" dance, but personally, I found nothing offensive in it... in fact, it's one of my favorite scenes! Elena entices Alejandro into a "sexy swordfight" (quote from Zeta-Jones) in which she is wearing only a chemise, corset, and petticoat, showing a moderate amount of cleavage. In this same sequence, he slashes off the top, but neither he nor us see anything, as her hair is carefully arranged. Language was extremely minimal - three uses of "damn," and one crude reference that will go over most kids' heads.

All in all, a refreshing and thrilling addition to the Zorro classics, and although slightly marred with the theme of revenge, a welcome adventure from Hollywood... and here's hoping for a sequel!

Zorro's Mask 1999 - 2001 by Charity Bishop. Do not redistribute information, screen captures,

or web design without prior written permission from the webmaster and Charity's Place.