Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) -- and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) -- to take action.
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The Legendary Zorro goes off on another adventure to protect the future of California and its citizens. This time, he fights against evil-doers with the help of his beautiful wife, Elena, and their precocious young son, Joaquin. Alejandro De LaVega is torn between two worlds: his life as Zorro and his life as a family man. After Alejandro once again breaks his promise to stop wearing the mask, Elena leaves him, and soon begins seeing Armand, a haughty French Count. But a mysterious explosion in the desert leads Zorro to believe that there's more to Armand than meets the eye, and our hero is intent on finding out what that is. Little does he know, there are others working to uncover certain truths as well. Written by
As a more than passing fan of the Zorro movies that span the decades, I had been waiting since 1998 for a sequel to Martin Campbell's 'Mask of Zorro.' That movie took much (though not everything) of the best of the various Zorro films, serials, and series and then stole from other sources (such as Dumas 'Monte Cristo', etc) to concoct a sexy, swashbuckling action adventure that had great pacing and strengths, with high production values and actors. Mr. Campbell and those high standards at last return to the story begun, and we now follow our heroes and their son as California fights to join a struggling Union. Zorro's character is not quite so impulsive and cool as he once was, but simply comfortable and ultra-capable, while his wife Elena complains that the man behind the mask knows not who their son is growing up to be. None of these character 'upgrades' felt wrong to me; it was natural extensions of them from the first film, despite how adventurous Elena claims to still be (and for the most part isn't), but it does make the first act of this movie a bit tiresome after the initial (awesome) action sequence. This time, though, as the story and its many plot-points begin to move, the writers borrow heavily from Hitchcock to keep things interesting. It doesn't always work, as there's a lot going on but never QUITE coming perfectly, cohesively together, but ultimately it makes sense and spins a good yarn for the fighting to take over. Meanwhile the stunt coordinators take what has already been done in the best Zorro flicks and then go wild with it, giving us stunts and action of old-school-cool caliber, such as stage-coaches, leaps and horses jumping on to explosive-laden locomotives. Unfortunately there is not quite enough action, and while I do like the over-all story - with its subtle bits of murk and dirty grays underneath the battle of white and black hats - it doesn't actually pace perfectly, giving us bickering Vega family exploits and Zorro failures for a rather large portion of the picture. The sword fights are fewer and more far-between than I would have liked, sometimes degrading to fisticuffs instead of proper dicing, but then the explosions almost make up for it all. The humor is a bit silly, provided mostly by the horse(!!) and the sometimes-annoying kid, but the audience ate it up. The villains are good, if never entirely fleshed out, and the themes are handled well. It's the lag caused by the idea (which I never understood) that 'once a couple gets together they're not interesting anymore' that slows things. Regardless of my small issues, the movie DOES deliver as a Zorro film, (with a good ending, for certain) and while it doesn't completely live up to its predecessor, it is a worthy sequel - just not entirely the direction I would have gone.
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