The Legend of Zorro

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(2005) ★★½

Channel 4: Sunday 1 November, 12.30pm

Catherine Zeta-Jones gives Antonio Banderas an ultimatum – family, or fun fighting for freedom in the mask of Zorro. The mission bell tolls for him! “People still need Zorro,” insists Antonio. “No!” she says, “You need Zorro.” Turns out they’re both right.

While she’s falling into the arms of smarmy count Rufus Sewell, a Frenchman with a frou-frou accent and fancy fireworks in his vineyard, Zorro’s investigating a mysterious explosion in the woods near the count’s chateau. And a pair of Pinkerton agents are investigating Zorro.

The humour is heavy-handed but the acrobatic stunt work and explosive pyrotechnics trip the light fantastic in this action-packed sequel to 1998’s hit revival (Sky Movies Family has the nimbly staged Mask of Zorro at 11.20pm). The intervening years have allowed the lovey-dovey daredevils to produce a son and, like The Mummy Returns, the boy – Spy Kid Adrian Alonso – is included in the action.

Somehow this makes the film funnier in a dumb way, but much less exciting. Still, the outrageous plot – involving a conspiracy to help the Confederacy make a pre-emptive strike on Washington (ten years before the actual Civil War) – inventively uses elements of Hitchcock’s Notorious and always commands attention.

As do the colourful villains. The sneering Sewell’s fairly amusing but Nick Chinlund’s scary fundamentalist – with wooden teeth, a lousy disposition and a crucifix branded on his face – is worth the PG rating all on his own.

Certificate: PG

Duration: 130min

IMDB – The Legend of Zorro

TMDB – The Legend of Zorro

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