The Mask of Zorro
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A lusty and rousing adventure, this calls to mind those glorious costume dramas produced so capably by the old Hollywood studio system--hardly surprising, in that its title character, a de facto Robin Hood in Old California, provided starring vehicles for Douglas Fairbanks and Tyrone Power, the '50s TV hit, and dozens of serials and features. Zorro, a pop-fiction creation invented by Johnston McCulley in 1918, is given new blood in this fast-moving and engaging version, which actually works as a sequel to the story line in the Fairbanks-Power saga, The Mark of Zorro. A self-assured Anthony Hopkins is Don Diego de la Vega, a Mexican freedom fighter captured and imprisoned just as Spain concedes California to Santa Ana. Twenty years later, he escapes from prison to face down his mortal enemy, a land grabbing governor played with slimy spitefulness by Stuart Wilson. Too old to save the local peasants on his own, he trains bandito Antonio Banderas to take his place. Much swashbuckling ensues as Banderas woos Catherine Zeta-Jones, becomes a better human being, and saves the disenfranchised rabble. Director Martin Campbell wisely instills a measure of frivolity into the deftly choreographed action sequences, while letting a serious tone creep in when appropriate. This covers much ground under the banner of romantic-action-adventure, and it does so most excellently. --Rochelle O'Gorman
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