Time: 98 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.
A summer, action trifle that makes one yearn for the seriousness of Fall. THE MASK OF ZORRO isn't the worst film to be released during the blockbuster season. In fact, it's better than it has a right to be thanks to the talent of its four leading actors. With a lesser group of actors, the dialogue would be even more appalling and ridiculous. A decently plotted, if not exactly original story keeps the action moving and fairly entertaining. It's obvious a great deal of effort went into revamping this classic Hollywood tale of a masked Robin Hood-type avenger. Banderas is the perfect actor to tackle the role of sexy swashbuckler. He has just the right mixture of danger, attractiveness and righteousness to make this character work. His presence is definitely one of the best things about the movie.
The other aspects of the movie that work well are the action sequences and swordplay. They exceeded my expectations. The choreography is inventive and fun. The actors obviously trained long and hard on how to convincingly brandish their weapons. It's too bad their one liners aren't as cutting as the flesh wounds they leave all over one another. The action gives the old-fashioned plot a modern flair without much overt violence. Though many people die, most of the bloodshed happens offscreen. This keeps the tone light and frothy. The fight sequences are infused with so much energy, you find yourself lulled into this fantasy world where everyone dresses well and knows how to brandish a sword.
The story is a simple one of revenge, with a little romance thrown in to keep it from being too serious. The film opens with Hopkins playing Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega rescuing some Mexican peasants with great flair from a Spanish firing squad. His archenemy, Governor Don Rafael Montero (Wilson) looks on with great hatred as he prepares to leave Mexico in exile. Before he leaves he captures de la Vega/Zorro, but ends up killing the woman he loves in the process, Diego's wife Esperanza. To get back at Diego for "stealing" his woman (though she never wanted him), Montero kidnaps Diego's daughter Elena, taking her back to Spain, and leaves Diego a penniless prisoner.