Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Legend of Zorro


Directed by: Martin Campbell
Screenplay: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones & Rufus Sewell

Good old fashioned action, adventure and romance return in The Legend of Zorro. A belated sequel to the original Mask of Zorro, Legend manages to keep the successful ingredients, and most of the cast of its predecessor, to deliver another “this is how they used to make em” thrill ride. Its ten years on from Mask and Zorro (Banderas) and Elena (Zeta Jones) are married with a pint sized Zorro in training. Elena wants Zorro to give up the mask and sword but Zorro has other ideas, still fighting the plight of the common folk. When a nasty, and obligatory foreign, bad guy (Sewell) makes moves on Elena and has plans to blow up California with newly discovered nitro glycerine, Zorro suddenly finds himself not only fighting for the people and their state but himself and his family.

Mask of Zorro was a breath of fresh air when action films were going all high tech and CGI. Its old school approach to action adventure conjured up tons of fun not to mention spectacular stunts and sword fights. The enthusiasm and infection of the cast also helped make it one of the best blockbusters of the 90s, and a film that just gets better each time you watch it. The cast and director, Martin Campbell, all return and while it may lack some of the zest and bite of the original (and unfortunately rely a little, though only a little, on CGI come the finale), Legend is a worthy sequel, a great adventure and another dose of expertly made, old school action. The fiery chemistry and comic interplay between Banderas and Zeta Jones is what really cements the fun factor. Now comfortable with their characters, and not burdened with an origin story this time, the two zip and zap off one another hitting as many comic beats as they do action ones. Despite some contrived plot gear to keep the two apart so they can rediscover their love again, Banderas and Zeta Jones shine, no doubt relishing the opportunity to play these characters again.

Martin Campbell is just as important to the success of Zorro as its two stars and once again shows he is the master of the set piece. The action is thick and fast and the sequences are large and inventive in scale. From Zorro’s opening gambit with a bunch of scummy cowboys, to the oodles of fights, to the extended sword/train chase fight, the action is superb. Tight choreography, relentless pace, non flashy editing (meaning we can actually see what is happening) and lots and lots of stunt men being thrown into things just like the good old days, the set pieces are a marvel and generate the sense of adventure Zorro stands for. And Zorro himself? Well he, perhaps, is the best thing about Legend and Mask. Banderas fits him like a skin and while he me may be an expert at the swash and buckle (and quite possibly martial arts in this instalment) and survive every death defying scrape he gets into, Zorro is still an ordinary bloke: a bumbling, often humourlessly drunk, human bloke. No posing, no vanity, just really good in a sword fight. Kudos to the cast and crew for delivering another action packed thrill ride that is just as enjoyable as its originator

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