Two bits, four bits, six bits a peso! All for Zorro, stand up and say so!
I must preface this review by mentioning that after watching this movie, my friends and I rented Zorro: The Gay Blade, and I never dreamed I would ever complain of that film being too plot-heavy, but after the relentless swashbuckling, classically macho theatrics, and gore-free violence of this new Zorro movie, I forgot that there were greater issues at stake than just revenge – and I didn’t care! George Hamilton was Zorro then, but Banderas is Zorro for all time! But don’t think for a minute that the filmmakers intended to make a serious Zorro movie – this, like Desperado, is really a cheeky romp with some genuinely fine swashbuckling.
Antonio Banderas (who has recently been shedding his sex appeal in the films since Desperado faster than Melanie Griffith can lipo herself) returns to his full, glistening brown Hot Latin Lover (TM) self, complete with comedy, wit, and some bad-ass sword fighting. For those who prefer their Zorro cool as a cucumber and smart as a whip, there’s the crackling British (?) Anthony Hopkins, still buff even grey, speaking with that even Dr. Lecter coolness that makes him The Man. For the guys who brought their panting girlfriends with a change of underwear, to avoid feeling inadequate under the 20 foot brown eyes of Banderas, there is the creamily sensual Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is just as hot to watch as any of her co-stars. When all three are on screen, all I can think is “sequel!”
You know from the preview that Zeta-Jones and Banderas have a fencing scene together – but WOOF! When was the last time such animosity was such great foreplay? Holy mackerel! Everyone’s skin is candlelit and glowingly exfoliated by the warm California sun. There’s wit and passion, and humor out the wazoo in unexpected places. The joy of Zorro is that he’s not a superhero, he’s just a man, a clever man, doing a Robin Hood on the baddies and avenging the people – and he does it for fun. He’s as driven as Batman, as clever as the Fox, as elusive as The Saint, but he’s also into his own image – sexy black cape and rakish sombrero and all. And The Mask of Zorro does not pretend (as the Batman franchise was doing) to take itself too seriously. Because of this, Zorro the movie is a fun and rollicking joyride, as well as a genuinely exciting tale of heroism and good over evil.
Oh and did I mention it’s totally sexy? It’s almost embarrassing how sexy it is – like being at the movies with your parents the first time you see a nude scene together thinking, oh man, I hope no one can tell how HOT I think this is! The thought of Banderas being on set with all those beautiful people (despite that weird Hall and Oates reject he battles at the end) and then going home to Melanie Griffith – love is truly blind. Anyway, the plot is pretty simple, the mechanisms to carry it are not much more complicated than they need to be – but by gum, it’s a blast. Overall, a nice generic score by James “Titanic” Horner, but there are some great Latin rhythm sections in it that tempted my music-lovin’ dollar.
All I want to know is – did Hopkins personally teach Banderas to dance like he does with Zeta-Jones – because that adds a whole new dimension to their training. Yow! Director’s cut! Director’s cut! Go see it. It gets Full Price Feature not because it is brilliant filmmaking, but for pure bang for your buck expectation fulfillment. Ole!
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 7/17/98
Time in minutes 137
Director Martin Campbell
Studio Tri Star Pictures