"Mask of Zorro" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

12/10/2009 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

“The Mask of Zorro”

Directed by Martin Campbell, written by John Eskow, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, 136 minutes, PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

After a spectacular opening that captures the romance and euphoria of the Zorro series, “The Mask of Zorro,” now out on Blu-ray disc, unsheathes its sword, swings it through the air, and lunges forward with a blade that is--unfortunately--more glimmer than razor’s edge.

Directed by Martin Campbell (“Goldeneye”), “The Mask of Zorro” is a passable film of moderate interest that could have been better had it only sharpened its blade and turned it on itself: The film needs cutting.

Too many scenes lack the wit and panache that Douglas Fairbanks Sr. brought to the series in the 1920s. Those films worked because, in their silence, Fairbanks found a flamboyant sense of style that roused the audience. His swordfights were cunning, imaginative, over the top. In “Mask,” there is little we haven’t seen before--indeed, the action sequences seem canned, stilted and curiously lacking in cojones.

All of this makes one appreciate even more the earlier films of Jackie Chan, a man who virtually followws in the footsteps of Bruce Lee, yet who consistently and unfailingly infused fresh blood into a genre that could easily have become stale. In his youth, Chan knew he is playing to a jaded audience. He knew if he is going to make a career out of leveling dropkicks, those dropkicks had better be delivered in such a way that ignite a crowd.

Somehow, this crucial element escaped director Campbell, whose Zorros (there are two in this film) crack whips and swing swords not so much to titillate the audience as they do to crack whips and swings swords in an effort to get to the next scene.

The film’s story is a problem, building not so much on the series as it borrows liberally from “Star Wars.” That’s right--“Star Wars.” In “Mask,” Elder Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) teaches younger Zorro (Antonio Banderas) the tricks of the sword in an effort to prevent the evil Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) from taking over the world--which, in this case, happens to be California in the first half of the 19th century.

Complications abound, including Banderas’ romance with Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones, wonderful in an early performance), a beautiful, sultry young woman who believes she is Don Rafael’s daughter, but who really is the daughter of the elder Zorro.

Sound fresh? It isn’t, which is particularly inexusable as it comes from the minds of three writers.

Grade: C

View the trailer for "The Mask of Zorror" below. Thoughts?

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