Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Ted Elliott, John Eskow, Terry Rossio, & David S. Ward
Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson, L.Q. Jones
My Advice: Matinee.
Although half the year went by before we got some decent films, it was almost worth the wait. For example, here's an action film that's done the old-fashioned way--heroes to root for, villains to boo and hiss at, a beautiful lady who'll not only steal your heart but run it through with a sword if she gets the opportunity, and get this: characterization and a plot instead of blowing up Manhattan! Whoa! I think I'm gonna faint. Anyway, enough about bad cinema, let's talk about a good movie for a change: Zorro the Elder (Hopkins) comes out of (to put it mildly) a forced retirement to instruct his successor (Banderas) in the ways of being the fox. There's more to it, but you can get the story from the trailer. There's plenty of good news to go around. The aforementioned plot actually has some substance to it, showing that the writing team of Rossio and Elliott are on the ball. There are kickass fight sequences (no pun intended) that look like Jackie Chan was Banderas' stand-in but at 33 1/3 rpm instead of his normal 78. And it's what Hollywood action films used to be: fun and entertaining instead of explosion-riddled and mindless. That has its place, but it's like really sweet chocolate--there is such a thing as too much. As for the cast, Banderas is perfect as the cocky Zorro the Younger. After many attempts at finding a "break through" role (though he's been superb in the past, i.e. Evita and Mambo Kings ), I think he's got it this time. Anthony Hopkins is solid as always, having the most meat in the script to work with and doing so beautifully. Catherine Zeta-Jones redefines the term "sultry," and if you don't think at least one wicked thought during her dance sequence with Banderas--then you're dead. Chock full of fun, it's rated as a matinee because we err on the side of the pocketbook here. But do go see it, you'll be glad you did.
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