The Legend of Zorro

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By Mark Ramsey | 2005/10/30

What happened to this franchise? Now I really liked the first Zorro - the reasonably adult-friendly one where Catherine Zeta-Jones is ripped of her bodice.

But somehow in seven long years and one long sequel, the powers that power Zorro decided it was time to target an audience more interested in mobiles than in movies, in sucking their thumbs rather than sucking down an overpriced Coke.

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Enter the proverbial cousin Oliver, the wanna-be Scrappy-Doo, the rambunctious and rascally 10-year-old Son of Zorro, and God help us all. I don’t know if this kid will grow into a dashing hero, but he’s definitely growing into a bad actor.

“No more oppression by the rich with the flaming poker of injustice!” he says with great difficulty in what looks like it must have been take 1,013. Where is Dakota Fanning’s family tree when you need it most?

“Chu want a piece of me?” he asks. Only if it’s a piece moving offscreen.

Director Martin Campbell has advanced from directing James Bond to directing Ricardo Montalbond. “Damn the plot points, full speed ahead!” says Campbell, a man who has never met a bad script that didn’t shine through beer goggles.

Did this screenplay have to pass some sort of Three Stooges litmus test? We’ve gone from Zeta-Jones in her skivvies to a sequel where Zorro’s horse can’t understand English, smokes, drinks, burps, and throws pies at the hoity-toity. “If I had fingers instead of hooves, I’d poke you in the eye, porcupine” said the horse in an Eddie Murphy voiceover.

The extras jump for joy as heroic Antonio Banderas gallops past. And by “jump for joy” I mean “move their arms like they’re blowing a train whistle with dead expressions on their faces.” You get what you pay for with background actors, folks.

The Legend of Zorro has tons of fake-looking violence, all of it bloodless. It’s a cross between Taco Bell and The A Team. Despite zillions of swords and guns nobody ever gets cut, and the casualty count consists mostly of blown-off hats, villains falling into a cactus, and bad guys pelted by soap bars and apple cores. I’m not kidding! Why not just throw the bad guys your guns, that way they can shoot themselves!

Antonio and Catherine are together again, but marital strife ensues, and Antonio finds himself in a tub with three other naked guys playing poker. Although in this context the game is usually called poke-him.

Antonio plays drunk like a man who has never been one, and Catherine speaks Spanish like a woman who wouldn’t touch zorro_directsthemelsewhere.jpg

a burrito without rubber gloves and a surgical mask. Just her pronunciation of one word, “delicious,” required about forty syllables and a page and a half of script.

Antonio bravely saves a child from an inferno so obviously digital, I’m surprised they didn’t hand out crayons and invite the audience to color in the flames.

Amazingly, after ten years as Zorro the only guy in town who looks even remotely like Zorro has never been recognized. Not even by his own son, which is like not knowing that’s your dad dressed up as Santa Claus – when you’re ten years old!

Catherine, meanwhile, continues to look as perfect as any woman can who has been defiled by Michael Douglas and ridden like the Streets of San Francisco. “Go play with the nanny, sonny, mommy must inject more rat poison into her forehead. Daddy says he likes it when my face is so taut he can bounce a quarter on it.”

Near the climax Catherine is chased by CGI dogs – finally, she’s pursued by beasts who have had more work done than Michael Douglas.

The Legend of Zorro is as formulaic as a cake mix and as unnecessary as a third arm.

Because you don’t need a third arm to hold your nose.


Photos Copyright ©2005 Columbia Pictures

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