WEB EXTRA: Film Review – The mask is back

Zorro is back once again in “The Legend of Zorro” – this time, to save California as it joins the United States of America.

It appears as if all hope is lost when Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) considers giving up the mask and becoming a full-time family man. A rift between de la Vega and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) ensues, ending in a divorce. With a fresh-mouthed priest as his only friend, de la Vega looks to the mask, vowing to defeat both the villainous Count Armand (Rufus Sewell) and the murderous McGivens (Nick Chinlund), and save the people of California once and for all.

Banderas and Zeta-Jones reunite on the silver screen for the highly anticipated sequel to the 1998 “The Mask of Zorro,” which grossed 93 million in the United States alone. “The Legend” lacks the level of suspense, passion and seriousness that “The Mask” had, and its PG rating, as opposed to “The Mask’s” PG-13 rating, proves to be an attempt at aiming for a younger audience. The absence of Anthony Hopkins’ powerful presence as the original Zorro, which added a great deal of credibility and respect to the first movie, is replaced with the wise-eyed, joke-cracking son of Zorro, Joaquin de la Vega.

Joaquin, played by the 11-year-old Adrian Alonso, is one of the highlights of the movie. The fiery tot aspires to be as daring as the great Zorro, instigating a swordfight with his schoolteacher and leaping from a moving train while on the back of a horse. Little does he know that the man behind the mask is his father, Alejandro de la Vega, whom Joaquin thinks is always on a business trip.

Banderas’ portrayal of de la Vega/ Zorro is comically intriguing. He brings the same passion and fire to the role that he has brought to some of his previous movies that include “Once Upon a time in Mexico,” “Spy Kids,” “Shrek” and, of course, “The Mask of Zorro.” The beautiful wife of de la Vega, Elena, battles many an assassin in the film, truly fitting as the hot-blooded daughter of the original Zorro.

Never a dull moment lies in this tale of suspense and allegiance. Sword fights, speeding trains, gunshots, engagements, lavish parties, wealth, murder, lies and shocking twists await you in this fall family flick. “The Legend of Zorro” will leave you with a smile of your face, a new set of jokes and begging for more of the epic story of Zorro.

“The Legend of Zorro” opens in theaters nationwide Oct. 28.

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