Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
“When the people are ready, the master will appear” claims Don Diego (Anthony Hopkins). Twenty years had passed since Zorro’s archnemesis' tyrannical reign ended. Twenty years has passed since the people have seen Zorro. Both the evil ruler and the legendary swordsman fade from the memories of the people, and so when the dictator Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) returns in the guise of an advocate of the populus and speaking sweet words, he is greeted with the cheers of the people. But the now aging Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) does not cheer. Instead he pairs up with Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), a bandit seeking revenge for his brother’s death, and trains him to wear The Mask of Zorro.
“The Mask of Zorro” is an action packed, high adventure, fun film. Anthony Hopkins excels in every role (so much so that one never questions the spanish Don with a British accent) and Antonio Banderas has the charisma, humor, and energy that playing Zorro needs. This odd couple on the big screen create a pair of Zorros, both very satisfying to watch. The plot develops slowly enough to become connected to the relationships of the characters and yet contains enough action to hold everyone attention. All in all a great summer film.
I was actually expecting Zorro to contain more morally offensive material than it did! Zorro contains some gore, some language, a brief nude screen and a lot of violence. The violence included several graphic deaths. The nudity is the back side of several law officers Alejandro Murrieta leaves in an embarassing position. What may concern people more is the fact that the hero (Zorro ala Antonio Banderas) is a criminal and his motive for heroism is revenge on a law officer who was involved in Alejandro Murrieta’s brothers death while executing his duties (albeit a bit too zealously). I wonder what kind of message this is.
In total, “Zorro” was an exciting action film although a bit too intense for younger audiences. If the brief nudity, violence, and gore does not bother you then “The Mask of Zorro” is a great deal of fun; otherwise you may want to rent one of the classic versions of Zorro to enjoy.
Year of Release—1998