Flicks & Folios – Comedy Film Review: The Mask of Zorro

ALL APRIL — COMEDY FILM REVIEWS

I can hear you saying, “what is a romantic film like the Mask of Zorro doing in comedy month?!” I have to say that the film does have the best sword work, duels and costumes in recent memory, but it is primarily hilarious. So, that’s my reasoning.

“This is one crowd-pleaser that actually pleases!” wrote Newsweek reviewer David Ansen. “Great fun! I loved it!” said Joel Siegel of Good Morning America.

When Alejandro Murrieta (played brilliantly by Antonio Banderas) begins his ride as the “new” Zorro, he is a flop in so many ways. I love the scene where he quietly whistles for his horse as he attempts to get off of a building on a dark night after pulling an escapade. The horse calmly steps out of the way as Alejandro is in mid drop! Blat! He hits the ground and curses the horse. Too funny — the horse is a scene-stealer! There is much more humour through the story. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Elena, a more-than- capable swordswoman who duels with Alejandro in a barn. Proudly, she fights on until most of her clothes are swashbuckled off of her!! At last Alejandro is not a joke! Yet Elena, is furious.

The fight sequences are based on the silent films of Douglas Fairbanks, and are quite skillfully choreographed and acted.

But the film is truly romantic, with Anthony Hopkins as Don Diego de la Vega, the sexiest living Zorro I can remember! Sorry ladies, he even tops Antonio who still makes me swoon in this film! Anthony is gorgeous with his long hair, smoky eyes, confidence nonpareil, and his ability as a teacher to his protégé (Banderas)!

I am very impressed with the dance sequence featuring Alejandro and Elena. They are able to sizzle on screen and I now know both are capable dancers. (Remember this is pre-Chicago)

The costumes are to die for! Antonio Banderas’ hat alone is on my to buy list! It is so well decorated that I’d swoon to wear it!

Did you know this is the only time the Spanish character has been portrayed by a Spaniard? Antonio was truly jumping at the offer when he was approached. The film was shot entirely on location in Mexico.

The original story was penned by Johnston McCulley and published in a five part serial format in 1919. If not for Mary Pickford (a Canadian!) recommending the story to her husband, Douglas Faribanks Sr., who knows how long it would have taken Hollywood to embrace it! The Fairbanks film came out in 1920 and began a series of sequels that are still being enjoyed and sought out.

Mask of Zorro’s music is very well crafted; and is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The film music either makes you fall head over heels for a character or makes you laugh, cry or feel excited. In other words it does what is needed to make you fall into the director’s hands!

Rumors say there is a full sequel scheduled for the summer of 2005 titled Zorro Unmasked. I’m awaiting it!

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