[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
The Mask of Zorro

An old-fashioned swashbuckler

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

July 19, 1998 -- "The Mask of Zorro" is an old-fashioned swashbuckler with plenty of action, charm and romance. You can't say they don't make movies like they used to after seeing this one.

The first Zorro movie, "The Mark of Zorro." way back in 1920 by Douglas Fairbanks, co-founder (With Charlie Chaplain, D.W. Griffith and Mary Pickford) of United Artists. It was followed by many other Zorro movies and several television series, so the territory is familiar. Zorro is like Robin Hood, he fights against tyrrany for the common man. He's also a bit like Superman, a super-hero with seemingly superhuman skills.

In this incarnation Anthony Hopkins plays Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega). He's a rich guy with his own bat cave in the basement, where he hides his horse, cape, mask and stuff. He is discovered late in his career by the evil Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson of "The Rock"), who throws him in jail and steals his daughter, Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones in her first major role. She was in the "Titanic" miniseries). Don Diego de la Vega's wife is also killed when he is arrested and he swears vengeance.

20 years later, he escapes from prison. He bumps into a small-time thief, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), who once saved his life. He teaches him to be the next Zorro. Both he and Murrieta have scores to settle, he with Montero, and Murrieta with Captain Harrison Love (Matthew Letscher, unknown in movies, was a regular on the tv series "Almost Perfect"), the man who killed his brother.

The two men team up to find out why Don Rafael Montero has returned to California from Spain. It turns out he has cooked up a scheme to buy California from Mexico, using gold from a secret mine in California. Captain Love is helping Montero. The two Zorros must stop the plot.

The movie gets off to a slow start, but there is plenty of action, with lots of swordfights and acrobatic stunts, like people swinging through the air from ropes. It is all great fun, with some wry humor thrown in, along with some movie clichés, such as the "Megalomaniac Map," showing Montero's plans for conquest. Banderas is a dashing hero and Hopkins delivers a fine performance. Wilson and Letscher drip with villainy and Catherine Zeta Jones shows some spunk and swordfighting skill as the daughter of Zorro. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 1998 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]  
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
    [Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)