Movie Review

The Mask of Zorro

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense action and violence

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action/adventure
Length:
136 min.

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Letscher / Director: Martin Campbell / Released by: Sony/Tristar

“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

Viewer Comments
I read the review posted re: Zorro and agree with a lot of what the reviewer shared. I did wish to comment on the problem the reviewer had with the newer Zorro (Banderas) seeking vengance on a “Law Officer” executing his duty (albeit a bit too zealously). Violence against anyone is never condoned except as a tragedy in our family (even in matters of self defense). My experience has been that folks (Believers and non-believers alike) hold law enforcement officers (even the shadiest and unscrupulous ones) in so high a regard that they find it unconscionable that anyone would ever strike back at them. The experiences of folks from different cultures, social-economic levels, races, etc are different with respect to Officers of the Law (speaking very generally). My point is simply that, in this one aspect of the reviewers statement lies volumes of the difference in opinion that exists between (even Believers) when it comes to overall perpspectives on police-type individuals. You can have two or three individuals from differing backgrounds who could see Banderas' attitude in differing ways. We can view Anglo-Saxons portraying non-Anglo-Saxons and not be bothered. But feel offended (“this just isn’t right) viewing say, a Mexican actor portraying George Washington or an African American portraying Jesus.
—Anthony D. House
My wife and I went to see the movie and found it very good. It is a very clean movie in comparison to other movies of the same rating. It had romance, action, comedy all put into one. It is one movie we are looking forward to buy when it comes out on tape.
—M.D.W.
Well done. The Mask of Zorro has all the action of a James Bond movie with a more interesting plot and more developed characters than those movies typically have. I recommend the Mask Of Zorro as enjoyable entertainment. There is a lot of moderate violence, and I wouldn’t want to see this film again and again. However, most of the fighting revolves around the protagonists combatting oppressive villains which at least makes moral sense.
—Todd Adams, age 31
The Mask of Zorro’s biggest draw for me was the choreograhy of the sword fighting. Probably why I enjoyed Princess Bride and 3 Musketeers. The biggest objection to this film really isn’t the posterior shot of the soldiers as the underlying message of revenge. This is another alussion to Princess Bride. Justice for the people eventually overrides personal vendetta, which is more accidental than purposed. Fast moving film. Hopkins is just fun to watch speak.
—MZ
I am a big Zorro fan, and after seeing the previews for 6 months, I was excited about seeing the movie. But as many people know, previews can be misleading. Well, on my son’s 13th birthday, he wanted to go see it, and we did. I was mildly surprised. The music was good, and the production values were good. There were only 2 slightly objectionable words. The nude scene, of a group of men tied around a cactus, only briefly showed their posteriors. I was worried that Banderas and the female lead getting horizontal, and at the least, exhibiting a lot of sexual innuendo, but it didn’t happen. Other than a sword fighting scene where a few well-placed sword swipes caused her dress to fall off, showing nothing because her long hair hid her upper body, it was actually a touching love story. Not only between Zorro and her, but with a reunion between a father and daughter. Some of Banderas earlier roles gave me a sort of negative feeling about him, however, he was perfect for the role of Zorro. And one thing I liked, it didn’t make him out to be a superhero, but also showed him messing up. Also there wasn’t the smart alecky quips that you hear in other movies, that wouldn’t have been used in that time period. There was some violence, not near the amount that you saw in “The Rock” or “Air Force One.” The action was good, the stuntwork was good, the pace of the movie was good. As a Christian, I was not convicted about seeing it. But then again, I go to few movies, and I don’t watch that much TV, because I don’t want to fill my head with junk. But, raised on Guy William’s Zorro, I had to see it.
—David Allen Rivera
I found this movie fun and enjoyable. I have always been a Zorro fan, even at my young age. Sure some parts were unlikely and maybe impossible, but that’s wwhy we go to the movies. To get away from reality and live someone else’s life for and hour or two. I had no problem with the graphic content, but that’s me. I actually enjoy gore and I have no problem with nudity. It’s life. I thoughly enjoyed The Mask Of Zorro and would recomend it to anyone who’s looking for both humor and action in a clean cut sort of way with very little swearing and only a little indecent exposure.
—Katie, age 14
not entirely without sexual situations
I agree that it’s a very good movie, but it’s not entirely without sex. The dancing, cut of the leading ladies dresses, and the fencing in her underclothing, were provocative enough that teens should feel uncomfortable.
—A mom
…The Mask of Zorro is not a cinematic masterpiece. The acting is not Oscar quality nor is the cinematography. But that is not what audiences are going to see. People want to see Zorro, fighting the good fight against incredible odds, and that is what the movie delivers. The swordfighting is choreographed excellently, making it both amazing and believable at the same time. Zorro flies about the scenes, using ropes, flags, trees, horses and anything else he can to elude his pursuers. As for Christian viewers, I can recommend this film with only one small caveat. Heed the PG-13 rating. Little children should not see this movie. They will not follow it, and it is a little violent. However, with older kids… no problem. The deaths are almost all implied, and there is NO sex (can you believe it?). My wife and I cannot remember any profanity, but there might be a couple of small ones. The importance of the family is emphasized, and the church is portrayed as an active and beneficial force in the community. Go see Zorro and prepare to be entertained without having to worry about needing to cover your eyes!
—Thomas C. Quinlen, age 24
a great film
I thought that this movie was very well done. It only had a little bit of language and it had action the whole way through. It was the best movie I’ve seen all summer. Just about all the rest of the movies this summer that I’ve seen I thought they could have made them better, but I think they did a great job on Zorro. It wasn’t one of those movies that you had to sit around for the first hour and half till the whole plot finally comes out, it had you hooked from the very beginning. It had a lot of sword fighting type of violence in it and brief nudity showing the back side of some soldiers who had just been tied up to a tree but other than that I thought that it was a great film.
—Chris, age 14
This film had a lot of action, and the swordfights are staged to beautiful dancelike movements. I was reminded of the Indiana Jones series when watching these sequences. It is a tremendous, thrilling ride. …There is no sex between the two romantic leads. This is a virtuous thing about the story. Nor is there any gory violence. The partial nudity you’ve heard about is a group of soldiers being staked out nude in the desert standing up facing a cactus plant. So if men’s duff’s bother you, skip this movie. I thought it was funny. There is one macabre scene which involves a severed head in a jar of wine, but this is the only part that may be a bit gross.
—Carrie Rostollan, age 29
non-offensive overall, and well done
I found “The Mask of Zorro” to be a very wonderfully made movie. I had expected it to contain a lot of immoral material as the other movies around, but was happily surprised to find it to be non-offensive as far as sex and vulgarity are concerned. There was quite a lot of violence, and the movie showed a lot of hate between Alejandro and his brother’s killer, and Diego and Montero. However, all in all, I found this movie to be very well done, and deserved of any one admiring it. The music, humor, and cast were spectacular, and anyone interested in an action packed romance in old California with Zorro, should like this movie.
—Sarah, age 17
a great film with little offensive material
All I have to say is Whoa! This movie is excellent! Just awesome! Stupendous! Probably one of the best movies I have ever seen. Actually went to go see it twice in two nights! It has ever aspect of a movie that makes a great movie. Action, adventure, heroism, comedy, and even a little romance. There is absolutely no sex (not even the hint of) and no more violence than on regular TV. It also has a wonderful cast of characters (the girl is absolutely gorgeous). The only part I didn’t like was the severed head. Extremely little cussing (only two instances of “reservoir”) and no taking our Lord’s name in vain. It didn’t have any great analogies that I can think of but it wasn’t mean to be a theological film… just good ol' fun. So, I give it two thumbs up! Great flick. A keeper. Go and enjoy. I might just have to go get me some Spanish garb. On Garde!
—Richard, age 21
no believability
I like a lot of realism in a film. This film doesn’t do it for me. I was dragged to it by my roommate. A lot of sword clashes that go on much longer then necessary. They could have made this a 90 minute movie easily, but I feel that directors these days assume that unless it is 2 hours or more now you won’t get critical acclaim. Anthony Hopkins is always spectacular. I am just surprised he did this movie after reading the script. Antonio Banderas is as weak an actor as ever. Some good special effects and stunts here and there, but if you want believability, stay home and wait for this one on video.
—Phillip M. Woeckener, age 30
unnecessary nudity
I thought Zorro was the best movie of the summer! It was violent, but you expect that going in. I thought the rear-end nudity was very unnecessary. However, it was a very decent movie compared to a lot of what Hollywood presents to us. I loved this movie. I have seen it 3 times. (I look away when I know the nude scene is coming up.)
—Randi, age 26
I just happen to be a zorro fan, even though I’m young zorro was my favorite show on the disney channel! I used to watch every episode and I believe this movie is a great rendition of zorro! It was fun, funny, clean, action packed, and had a great ending!
—Jamey Reed
offensive gratuitous violence
This could have been a good, fun, well-done movie. But it is so loaded with gratuitous violence that it becomes offensive. Violence has its place in movies, such as in showing the horrors of war. But in this film too often the violence is played for laughs, creating a desensitizing effect. Even for the “good guys,” the death of the enemy should be seen as a tragedy; it is not. There’s just so much destruction of people that it overshadows the film’s many fine points.
—Gerald, age 45