Making the Grades
It is 1850, and the population of Spanish California is deciding whether or not to join the Union and become the 31st State. It's an important vote that could allow the common people to have their freedom. However, it would also mean those who have become accustomed to exploiting them will be forced to conform to the laws of the American constitution. Generating a fervor of political passion, the anxious citizens may require the assistance of a sly fox like you-know-who to guard the ballot box.
Picking up ten years after the last film (The Mask of Zorro), it is obvious the masked avenger (played again by Antonio Banderas) has used that time to increase his skills and popularity. Making quick work of a gang of gun-toting protesters (alright... it took about 15 minutes of highly choreographed sword fighting, fancy footwork, and agile acrobatics), he saves the election with only two regrets. First, the religious-lunatic ringleader of the mob, McGivens (Nick Chinlund), isn't taken into custody and second, a slip of the old black cloth may have revealed his true identity.
Yet such worries get swept aside by the domestic displeasure he incurs from his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Tired of having their family life constantly interrupted by the church bell tolling for Zorro's help, she accuses her husband of missing their son's life. Figuring the appointment of a new government will make Alejandro's alter ego obsolete, she demands he retire the black cape and secret shenanigans to devote his full attention to young Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) before he grows up.
This will not come as a big surprise to the audience though, thanks to a predictable storyline. But the amount of violent depictions in this PG rated movie just might. Continuous throughout are portrayals of peril, shootouts, death threats, the use of knives, swords, guns and other objects (like a pitchfork or piece of wood) as weapons. These lead to a climatic conclusion where the heinous villain meets an equally heinous end. While little blood is shown, death is definitely implied.
So why the soft rating? Perhaps the generous advisory is the result of balancing this content against the film's lighter offerings in the language and sex categories. These include only a few mild profanities, brief sexual innuendos, Ms. Zeta-Jones in low cleavage costumes and head-and-shoulders shots of some naked men playing cards in a communal bathtub.
Where The Legend of Zorro hopes to capture its audience is with an abundance of amazing action/adventure. Improbable situations meet with impossible stunts (such as riding a horse along the top of a moving train), exhilarating explosions (great balls of fire consume the innocent and the wicked alike), and unbelievable coincidences (have you ever seen a railway line with so many sidetracks?). For viewers with an appetite for flashing blades, this is a full-course meal. For those who are only peckish, beware the mark of "Z."
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Legend of Zorro.
Don Alejandro de la Vega and his wife Elena are supposed to be living in 1850, in a predominately Catholic community. How likely would it be for a couple in such a situation to seek a divorce? What other anachronisms (ideas or inventions that are too modern for the historical setting they have been placed in) can you find in this movie?