'The Legend of Zorro'

It's Zorro, the domesticated blade! This limp sequel to 1998's The Mask of Zorro finds Johnston McCulley's pulp hero so thoroughly committed to matrimonial equality he's even taken his wife's last name. Antonio Banderas's Don Alejandro de la Vega (formerly Murrieta) has his hands full with embittered wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and spunky son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) even before villainous religious zealots and French aristocrats show up to destroy 1850s California. Most of Mask's cast and crew return, but they forgot to bring the last film's romantic aura and dry sense of humor with them; Anthony Hopkins is deeply missed. Instead, the picture is beset by typical sequel problems like awkward slapstick and allegedly adorable kid sidekicks. Everyone seems to be coasting on goodwill. Banderas previously brought a muscular intensity to his Zorro and a palpable heat to his scenes with Zeta-Jones. Now he looks scrawny, and the romance subplot has less chemistry than a kindergarten science class.

 
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