Nine years have passed since the rich aristocrat Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) took over the reigns as the masked hero of California, Zorro. Nine years of missing his son Joaquin (Adrian Alfonso) grow up and nine years of growing farther and farther apart from his beautiful wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). And with the upcoming election intended to introduce California into the Union, Zorro now faces the challenge of protecting the ballots from sabotage. Despite feeble attempts on the contrary, Zorro succeeds in delivering the ballots to the governor’s mansion and California overwhelmingly votes to enter the Union.

And now that the United States will deal with California’s affairs, Elena is more than ready to have her husband back again. But when he refuses to give up the mask, marital rifts ensue, and Don Alejandro is shown the door.

When two mysterious detectives discover Zorro’s hidden identity, they blackmail Elena, forcing her into a swift divorce of Don Alejandro. Then, Elena, just three months before happily married, becomes involved with the extremely wealthy Frenchman, Armond (Rufus Sewell). Infuriated over his ex-wife’s behavior and quite unaware of her actual intentions, Don Alejandro begins to investigate and (only after an extended period of drunken disparity) begins to suspect Armond. What ensues is a head scratching, out of place climax involving, among other things, serpents, soap, and the complete destruction of America.

Meanwhile, little Joaquin is turning out to be quite mischievous, stirring up trouble at school and away from it (as it turns out, he uncovers Armond’s dastardly plans first, he just doesn’t know it). And as he inches closer to his father’s true identity, Don Alejandro and Elena must make a critical choice: fill Joaquin in on the family business or risk their son’s well-being at the hands of the bad guys.

Several things bothered me about The Legend of Zorro, the first of which being the film’s rating. I was skeptical going into the movie. How a movie devoted to a masked figure that protects his people by killing the bad guys could pull off a PG rating, and I am now convinced it did not. Though the movie stays away from blood, (its PG-13 prequel did not) consequently, it is fairly violent. At least two characters are blown up, and many are shot (at least one fatally), stabbed, and set afire. Another character, tied to the front of a runaway train, is sent careening off the tracks as the train explodes into flames. Also, a white man, determined to “do the Lord’s work” in ridding the land of inferior races, slaps, spits at, and murders Mexicans.

Along with The Legend of Zorro’s rating, its ridiculous climax is laughable at times. It centers around an ancient group of knights who are determined to keep America from becoming a world power by creating a bomb out of good ol’ body wash. I can still hear the resounding chuckles from my fellow moviegoers when all was revealed. An early scene shows a chasm in the earth that could have been made by a small asteroid. It inferred it was a testing site for the bomb (the chasm supposedly being caused by a single bar of soap). But when the entire stash of soap careens into the California landscape via a runaway train, the resulting explosion is less than convincing. Expecting a mini Hiroshima, I was left disappointed by the wimpy fireball. But then again, with Don Alejandro and Elena standing stupidly 400 meters from the crash site, it couldn’t be a very big boom or the filmmakers would have to kill off the movie’s main characters. Whoops. It’s never a good sign when your script outwits your script-writers.

Despite the movie’s pitiful plot, there are some bright spots. Witty humor makes its way into the plot during some of the more serious scenes, never allowing the movie to get too sappy. Themes include the importance of family and never giving up hope. Joaquin provides a critical role in the end, saving his parents and many others from certain death. And in the end, the good guys all end up happy, though the ending leaves the possibility of a Zorro 3.

But not even cute humor and family values can save this train wreck. Banderas and Zeta-Jones give solid performances but the plot ends up damaging the movie’s credibility. And though its PG rating will woo parents and their kids, watch out mom and dad, you may be surprised at some of the things your little ones will see.

The Waynedale News Staff

Dillon Kimmel

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