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MASK OF ZORRO

SYNOPSIS:
It has been 20 years since Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) fought Spanish oppression in Alta California as the legendary romantic hero, Zorro.  On the night of his final public appearance, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), the cruel governor of the region, learns his identity and takes a squadron of guards to De La Vega's abode. There, in a tragic accident, De La Vega's beloved wife is killed. Montero imprisons his enemy and takes De La Vega's infant daughter, as his own. Twenty years later, that daughter, Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), has grown into a beautiful woman. With her by his side, Montero triumphantly returns from exile with plans to turn California into an independent republic. Montero's reappearance awakens a long-dormant passion in De La Vega, who has spent two decades in dungeons, and he escapes. He encounters a thief on the run from the law, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), who, as a child, once did Zorro a favour. After a brief period of deliberation, De La Vega decides that fate has brought them together ("When the pupil is ready, the teacher will find him"), and he agrees to take the man on as his protégé and groom him as the new Zorro. For his part, Murrieta is willing to endure De La Vega's tough training regimen, because he wants revenge on his brother's killer, Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher), Montero's right-hand man.

"With all the flair, pizzaz and Latin rhythms, The Mask of Zorro brings back the oomph of the Golden Years of Hollywood, with a swashbuckling, spirited adventure that boasts dazzling effects, a splendid score and the dream cast of Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. Every expectation for this tale of a suave, courageous hero with the unextinguishable spirit, is met with polish. The script solidly establishes the characters from the start, and the story-telling is as compelling and satisfying as the film itself. Banderas is magnificent as Zorro: seriously handsome, debonair, rogue-ish and quite the clown, his comedic cheekiness counteracting his suave, romantic persona. The scenes between him and his striking black stallion are priceless. Hopkins brings class to every role he touches, and as Don Diego, he is superb. The scenes that Hopkins and Banderas share are memorable in both dramatic and comedic terms. With all the attributes that will make her a star, the exquisite Catherine Zeta-Jones is the ideal spirited heroine, in this, her first major screen role. There’s plenty of action, and the stunts are daring and visually exciting. The gymnastics on horseback, which offer touches of humour, are nothing short of spectacular. The legend of Zorro is a tale about heroes, courage and honour. Martin Campbell’s direction is exciting, the cinematography takes you into the action, while James Horner’s rousing, rhythmic, melodic score is truly superb. Sizzling Swashbuckle a-la Hollywood is back – draw your sword and join the legend!"
Louise Keller

"Clearly drawn good and bad characters, irresistible romantic elements, exotic settings, a passionate political backdrop (freedom for the oppressed), a major case of heroism and a superb score makes The Mask of Zorro a rousing crowd pleaser. The badinage between Banderas and Hopkins gives the film its humour, with Catherine Zeta-Jones bringing feisty femininity, while the heroics give it nobility. And here is something new: an old fashioned hero movie where the hero has no supernatural powers yet he takes on a gang of baddies and wins. Several gangs, several times. The historic details are not as clear as they could be, but no-one will care. The brand name (Zorro as hero) is already established as a goodie character with licence to kill, and the film delivers him in a gripping story around the lives of our characters that heightens the human drama without detracting from the sword fights. I found a few scenes over-worked, some of the script laboured, and a few minutes of buffoonery unnecessary, but none of it dented my enjoyment, amigos. The cast delivers everything you expect, unless you expect to see a low budget historical doco."
Andrew L. Urban

"Here is an action film that works, one that delivers the goods and reminds one of the days when the movies were young, and violence did not need to be graphic. The Mask of Zorro is old fashioned movie making at its best, a fiery, swashbuckling yarn that integrates humour, swordplay, stunts and its own irreverent cheekiness, stylishly brought to the screen as few genre films seem to do. Even at a tad over its two and a half hour running time, not a frame is wasted here, as Martin Campbell and his talented team, deftly explore the themes of the original story, those of poverty, social values and injustice, that made the original pulp novels and previous film incarnations so irresistible. Technically, Zorro is magnificent, to say the least with much attention to detail to capture 19th century California. Stunningly shot by Phil Meheux, beautifully and intricately designed, the film looks exquisite, and is enhanced by a lush, rhythmic score by the brilliant James Horner. The performances are all incomparable. Banderas is perfectly cast as the new Zorro, giving the character both depth of presence, with a wry swagger that is delightful. Hopkins, as the original, is superb, giving the character enormous power and dignity, while the gorgeous Zeta Jones avoids the trap of becoming sexy window dressing; she is a tough, high-spirited performer, who's also as sexy as hell. The villains are deliciously played by Stuart Wilson and Matt Letscher. The Mask of Zorro, is A-grade entertainment on a grand scale not to be missed."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

See our FEATURE on the Making of Zorro

And our review of the DVD

MASK OF ZORRO, THE (M)
(US)

CAST: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher, Maury Chaykin, Tony Amendola, Pedro Armendariz, L.Q. Jones, William Marquez, Jose Perez, Victor Rivers

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

PRODUCER: Doug Claybourne, David Foster

EXEC PRODUCERS: Steven Spielberg, Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald

SCRIPT: John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio (story by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Randall Jahnson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phil Meheux

EDITOR: Thom Noble

MUSIC: James Horner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cecilia Montiel

RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: December 26, 1998

AUSTRALIAN VIDEO RELEASE: May 19, 1999 (Rental)
November 99 (Sell-Thru)
RRP: $24.95

DVD: $34.95

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar







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