2 Stars – Weak
In this sequel of “The Mask of Zorro,” our hero has morphed into a caricature of his former self. In the first film, Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) is adopted by Don Diego de la Vega, the original Zorro, who teaches him both charm and skill. In the process, he marries the beautiful Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and has a son. Now, ten years later, Alejandro has become so consumed with his crime-fighting life that he has neglected his wife and child and turns to alcohol when Elena issues an ultimatum. In addition, Zorro’s heroic feats have become more that of fantasy than skill.
The moral of the film is clear: “family is more important than work,” even if that work is being a crime-fighting hero for the people. Yet even this moral is questioned at the end of the film when, in an important moment of family life, Zorro once again leaves to fight crime as Elena says, “That’s who we are.”
The setting of the legend is still in California but the villain is now the French Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). A member of the Knights of Aragon, a secret organization that is reputed to have ruled Europe for centuries, Armand has come to the United States to develop nitro-glycerin and destabilize the United States by giving this new weapon to the Confederate army. This plot is exacerbated by some ruthless government agents who will stoop to immorality to protect the United States. And, while the story is based around California’s entrance into the United States, there is little resemblance between this fictional version of history and the real history of the state.
Though we won’t share all the ways this plot interacts with Zorro and Elena, the one addition to the story is their son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso). Joaquin does not know his father. It is not that he just doesn’t know that his father is actually Zorro (who is Joaguin’s hero), but he doesn’t know his father at all. This father absence is predictable when we remember from the first film that Alejandro also did not know his father. Both act out of their unguided masculine impulses. Alejandro came under the guiding hand of Diego (Anthony Hopkins) and now Joaquin needs to come under the guiding hand of Alejandro as he shows his ability to be a person of courage and skill as well.
The “Legend of Zorro” is supportive of the importance of family, the need for commitment to marriage and the need for fathers to care for their children.
- Why do you think people are fascinated with conspiracy theories as in this film and in such best sellers as The Da Vinci Code? Do you believe there are secret groups that are running governments? Business?
- The marriage that Alejandro has with Elena has been put in second place to the important task of helping free the people of California. Do you believe this was appropriate? If not, why not? Were you surprised to hear Elena tell Alejandro to leave their recommitment to go and fight crime?
- When the priest, Brother Ignacio (Alberto Reyes), is shot and subsequently saved by the cross that hung around his neck, he gives thanks to God. Do you believe this was God’s intervention or an accident? Why do you answer as you do?
- The power of love overcomes the forces of darkness in this film. Do you believe love is stronger than evil? If Elena had truly loved Armand, what effect do you think this would have had on him and on the outcome of the story?