• Tag Archives Antonio Banderas
  • Canister X Movie Review #58: The Mask of Zorro (1998)

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    The Mask of Zorro (1998)
    Written by John Eskow, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio
    Directed by Martin Campbell
    Runtime 136 min.
    4 out of 5

    A small-time thief’s brother is killed before his eyes. Wanting to exact revenge against the soldier that killed him, Alejandro Murrieta seeks him out only to run into the original Zorro who is now retired. Knowing that if Alejandro tried to kill the soldier right away that he would only get himself killed, he decides to train Alejandro as the new Zorro and use him to stop the evil Rafael Montero from getting rich off the backs of the people and bring freedom to California once and for all.


    I was introduced to Zorro when I was a kid by my dad. Watched the movies, was Zorro for Halloween in grade two, played dress-up around the house—I’ve always had a soft spot for the swordsman in black. Even dressed up as him again at Halloween eleven years ago.

    He’s the historical Batman—side note: depending which Batman origin you read, the movie theatre that Bruce Wayne and his parents left that fateful night was showing a Zorro movie—and packs a punch as deadly as the best of heroes.

    This movie was the first time I saw Zorro on the big screen. What a cool opening with him walking against a spotlit backdrop and doing his famous Z-slash across the screen. And they got right into the action, too, showing us the first generation Zorro’s last adventure and using that as a catalyst to the main story to bring in a new one.

    I was especially impressed with the swordplay in this. I mean, it had to be good, right, because that’s Zorro’s thing. There was no way the filmmakers would fall short in this area, above all else. The costume looked good, too, and they didn’t try to be all fancy and stylize the thing. They kept it simple just like it would’ve been in long-ago California.

    The writing was real good, with a strong story. The tragedy of Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) is what made the tale. You got this guy who’s given it all for the people of California and then just when he thought his mission was through, everything else that he’s held dear is taken from him as well. To see him endure such emotional pain raises the hero bar because being a hero goes beyond the physical. There has to be a cost, some sort of sacrifice and/or loss.

    Which brings us to the new Zorro, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas). First, Mr. Banderas was the only choice for the role, in my opinion. Aside from casting an unknown, what other famous Spanish actor does Hollywood have to offer who has the charm, good looks and charisma needed to play Zorro’s alter ego never mind the black swordsman himself? Throw that together with Banderas’s acting chops and you got a Zorro who was dead serious at the right moments, witty in others, and played it straight throughout.

    Of course, there had to be a love interest and Catherine Zeta-Jones filled in the role of Elena, Diego’s daughter. She did fine and conducted a fine balance between a strong and fiery woman with a dainty feminine side.

    I’ve said it in other reviews and I’ll say it here: I like origin stories. What makes this one special is it’s not just a how-Zorro-came-to-be movie, but a passing-of-the-torch one as well, giving you Zorro lore from start to finish and opening the door for a sequel, which ended up coming some seven years later.

    I know there’s plans to reboot the character, but for right now, this movie’s a favorite of mine.

    With a great soundtrack, great story and solid acting, The Mask of Zorro is a recommended flick in my books.

  • Canister X Movie Review #54: The Legend of Zorro (2005)

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    The Legend of Zorro (2005)
    Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
    Directed by Martin Campbell
    Runtime 129 min.
    3 out of 5

    In this follow up to 1998’s The Mask of Zorro, Alejandro must try and abstain from adventuring as the black-masked crusader in an effort to keep his home life under control as his wife, Elena, now feels it’s time for him to give up the mask since he’s been Zorro for nine years. Meanwhile, a nefarious plan is afoot to stop California from becoming part of the United States. Soon the lines between the Fox’s life as Zorro and his life as Alejandro blur and our hero must balance the two and ensure California’s statehood comes to pass before it’s too late.


    I loved The Mask of Zorro so was super excited when this one came out. To me, it was one of those “what took you so long?” things. Well, I don’t know what went on behind the scenes or why the delay, but I was happy when they finally made this movie. Due to being a new parent at the time, I didn’t make it to theatres to check it out and had to do so once it hit the direct market.

    It was all right. Wasn’t as thrilling as the first one nor was the story as good. There was a lot of Zorro in this, which, of course, is a plus, but I think because it was more lighthearted than its predecessor I was let down. Sure, Zorro isn’t a grim and brooding hero, but since the first movie was so serious, I expected more of the same with this one. That’s not to say this was all slapstick and camp. Far from it. Just had this lighter vibe to it that I wasn’t really into.

    I think, for me, the romantic tension in this movie is what wasn’t my thing. There was good reason for it in the context of the story, but I just didn’t see how Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) couldn’t just simply tell Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) what was going on and together they would take on Armand (Rufus Sewell). Perhaps relationships were different back then than they are now, I don’t know.

    The swashbuckling and adventure were fun and would make any male watching it want to put on a mask and get on a horse and go ride around. Kind of hard nowadays, but you get the idea.

    The thing that makes Zorro interesting in this movie is the fact that he has a son. Superman Returns aside, what other superhero on the big screen has to juggle being a dad and a superhero? Even in Superman Returns Superman didn’t find out about his kid until the end of the flick so we never got to see him be a family man and Earth’s champion. If you were a superhero and had kids, you’d have to keep it a secret lest they spill the beans to their friends. You’d also have to face years of them being disappointed in you because you’re always “working” and are never around. And the sacrifice involved on the part of the parent is also high because you’re missing out on all these great moments from your kid’s childhood because you’re off saving the day.

    I think this movie would’ve worked well as a third in a trilogy after some kind of high-octane swashbuckling adventure of a second flick. Then you can have your hero think of retiring and moving on instead of setting him up as a legend at the end of the first movie then suddenly saying, “Nope, you’ve had enough. Let’s slow things down.” What happened in between?

    This is a fun movie, don’t get me wrong, and is a good time for adults and kids alike.

    I do recommend this movie because I think it’s important the younger generation knows who Zorro is in this day and age of high-profile DC and Marvel superheroes and suggest parents show their kids this flick for that reason.

    Any Zorro exposure is good in my book.