The Mask of Zorro




One of the things I like about 'The Mask of Zorro' is that thereís a title that comes on the screen that says "Twenty Years Go By." Donít you love it? I mean, how many films have you seen lately where they actually say, Twenty years go by? None. And they also have Mexicans and Spaniards who speak English to each other with Spanish accents. All these things of course are in the great tradition of American films with Mexican characters, which shows how far we need to go in the area of multiculturalism.

As you know, this Zorro has Anthony Hopkins as the wise old one and Antonio Banderas as the young one who needs to learn manners and restraint. And it has Catherine Zeta-Jones, as the baby who was stolen from Zorro and raised by the evil Spanish Governor of California Stuart Wilson until -- say it with me: twenty years go by -- and she turns from baby to babe, where she meets Antonio Banderas, who then -- but enough of the plot.

This is a very good-natured film, though Iím not sure it has all the magic you want it to have, and one reason is that in fact it has more plot than it needs. For one thing, there are two evildoers here, and Iím not sure we need the second one, who is an American army captain who serves the evil governor but does his own thing even more sadistically. Still and all, if there are two heroes, I guess we can have two villains.

Second, there are a lot of sword fights, many of them reminiscent of Errol Flynn at his best, except that the stunt doubles are painfully visible even though theyíre shot in the lowest possible light. I thought that Danny Kaye and Basil Rathbone did a better job of sword-fighting in 'The Court Jester' than these guys do here. Nevertheless, with Hopkinsís sophistication -- youíll recall last yearís film 'The Edge' -- and Banderasís looks and voice -- a better actor than heís sometimes given credit for -- the film has a good deal going for it. I must say that thereís a lot here that reminds me of that truly delicious film 'The Princess Bride.' For one thing, Banderasís performance as Alejandro Murrieta is an exact copy of Mandy Patinkinís as Inigo Montoya -- you remember, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my fadder. Prepare to die." The film was directed by Martin Campbell, who I think does not have the flair to make a fantasy like this one work as well as it should.