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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Movie Talk - The Zorro Movies

As you can tell by the title, I’ll be looking at another hero who inspired Batman’s mythos: Zorro. Zorro, aka Don Diego de la Vega, was created in 1919. He first debuted in pulp novels and then moved to other media. He’s just about been everywhere in media. He’s been in TV, film, radio, books, comics, and other things. If you can think of it, he’s probably been in it. His main setting is usually California in the early 19th century before it officially became a part of the USA. He basically stands up for the common man against any tyrannical politicians and overall bad men.

It’s easy to see what Kane and Finger took from the character. Zorro’s a nobleman, decked out in all black, sports a mask, and wears a hat. He also sports a cape, is athletic, and pretty cunning for the most part. His main weapon of choice is the rapier and he uses other gadgets in order to help people. From what I’ve seen of the character (the Banderas movies, an animated show, and a live-action show), he’s kind of a light-hearted guy and we know Batman is far from that these days. The character has also even been folded into Batman’s mythos. In some versions of his origin, The Mark of Zorro was the movie that he and his parents saw on the night they were gunned down.

Instead of a random comic, I decided to look at the more modern movies of the character and see how they are. They were both directed by Martin Campbell. Zorro was brought back to American theaters with The Mask of Zorro in 1998. It was a success back then but a sequel didn’t come until a few years later. The Legend of Zorro was released in 2005 and wasn’t as much of a success. I remember seeing the first one a lot on TV. As for Legend, I’ve only seen it once on DVD. I found both movies for a bargain at McKay’s, so I decided to check them out. What’s my verdict? Find out below.

The Mask of Zorro
In the movie, the original Zorro (Don Diego) gets imprisoned for 20 years by his enemy, Rafael Montero. His wife also dies and baby daughter is taken. After he escapes from prison, he wants to avenge his dead wife. He ends up finding a younger, unskilled outlaw named Alejandro who also wants revenge against the main bad guys. Diego ends up training Alejandro in his ways and Alejandro becomes the new Zorro. As Zorro, Alejandro does his best to help the people in the land. He also ends up falling in love with Elena, Diego’s long lost daughter.
Guys, this is probably me on the right... don't even give me a sword.

This was a pretty good movie. I liked all of the characters. I thought Antonio Banderas was cool as the new Zorro. Anthony Hopkins knocked it out of the park as the older Zorro. Yeah, you might look at that casting these days and make a fuss about it. Still, Hopkins was good and I liked the banter between him and Banderas. Catherine Zeta-Jones was a good love interest and I liked the chemistry between her and Banderas. The villains were also pretty good for the most part. Rafael (I don’t know the guy’s real name) was good and Captain Love was a cold-blooded right hand man.
Sweet.

The story was fine for the most part. It takes you for a loop at the beginning and it doesn’t play like a standard Zorro story. There were heartfelt moments and some good funny moments in here too. A lot of the funny moments involved Alejandro’s new horse, Tornado. The action scenes and fight scenes were really good. The sword play looked really good here. I can see why I sometimes want to dress up as Zorro for Halloween. There’s little about it I don’t like. While I like the story, there were a couple of points where it wasn’t as good. Also, it could get a little too cutesy at times. Other than that, it was really good.
.... Nothing to say. Too bad Ant-Man scooped her away!

The Legend of Zorro
The sequel takes place in 1850, about 10 years later. Alejandro is still at it as Zorro and trying to help California become a part of the US. Unfortunately, his Zorro time keeps him away from Elena and their son, Joaquim. Something happens and Elena unexpectedly breaks up with Alejandro. Sometime later, she ends up hanging around Armand, a French Count. Alejandro is peeved but is busy investigating a strange explosion and trying to stop thugs from hassling landowners. Eventually, Alejandro’s and Elena’s paths cross when they uncover a plot that involves starting America’s Civil War early.
Thankfully, Zorro didn't have to face off against Armand's descendant from Dark City. I still need to watch that movie and I own it!

The movie was okay but pretty lackluster. It does have some good things. Of course, Antonio Banderas and Cathrine Zeta-Jones were still good. I also liked that Elena got a lot more to do this time around instead of just being a love interest. The son wasn’t too annoying and I did like how the whole family interacted. I also thought the villain, Armand, was alright. Friar Felipe, Alejandro’s helper, was also pretty funny at times. The final action sequence was pretty cool. There were also some nice funny scenes.
I don't know what feels more out of place: the kid or that bar of soap.

As for the negatives, something felt off about it. I don’t know what it is. I feel like a lot of the edge the first movie had is not here. It feels tame and safe. There was some humor that came off bad. I also thought some of the writing and dialogue felt a bit off at times. It was weird seeing Alejandro and Elena butt heads like this. Also, I thought throwing Joaquim into some action scenes was a bit much to take. The action for the movie in general felt really tame when compared to the first movie. In the end, it’s lackluster but it does work as an okay sequel.

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Overall, I had one good movie and one lackluster movie featuring the one they call “The Fox.” These days, Zorro is still around. Dynamite Comics is putting out comics with him. He even crossed over with Django from Django Unchained in a crossover. Now that is something I might read. He’s still well-known around the world. As for movies, I did read that Sony may reboot the franchise into something darker akin to the Nolan Batman films. Personally, I’d have to see how it works out since I don’t think you need to make the character too dark. Well, I’m done for the night. Peace and God Bless.

NEXT TIME: THE GHOST WHO WALKS!

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