“A young thief seeking revenge for his brother’s death is trained by the once-great, aging Zorro, who is pursuing his own vengeance.”

Director: Martin Campbell
Writers: Johnston McCulley, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio
Staring: Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson
Release Date: July 17, 1998
Streaming: Amazon Prime

There are movies that stick with you when you are young. Whether it be a personal favorite, remembered as unnecessarily scary, or a glorious memory trigger, everyone has a movie that transports them to a different time and place. The Mask Of Zorro (1998) is that for me. This movie was one of the first “adult” movies I watched with my family and to this day it is locked in my happy trunk as a comfort viewing. Last week I watched it for the first time in nearly seven years and I got to share it with my girlfriend. I can happily say The Mask Of Zorro did not disappoint.

The Mask Of Zorro takes place in the early in the early 1800s with a tumultuous relationship between Old California, Mexico and Spain. The political backdrop is just the groundwork for a movie based in personal relationships and on-screen chemistry. Antonio Banderas plays Alejandro Murietta, a bandit who is seeking revenge aimlessly until he meets with Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins)…also known as the original Zorro. The transfer of heroic power and ethos is complicated by Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the lost and stolen daughter of de la Vega. Murietta and Elena develop a wonderfully smooth bond and soon the new truth of Zorro is unfurled and it becomes a classic battle of good versus evil and kindness versus greed.

Banderas is amazing as Murrieta and Zorro. He has the perfect blend of sincerity and comedy. His chemistry is Zeta-Jones is SMOLDERING. Good lord that dance scene is wonderful but the duel in the stable is what my romantic dreams are made of. The competitive sassy banter back and forth and the shit-eating grins exchanged between the pair is *chefs kiss*.

Banderas’ performance in this movie also stretches to his conversations with Hopkins. The training sequence is short and the timeline for becoming a swordsman connoisseur is accelerated, but who gives a damn. It is fun. De la Vega is wonderful glib and arrogant while also allowing Murrieta grow into his own version of Zorro. The myth of the legendary hero of the people is carrying on, but the style and flare is allowing to tilt.

What makes The Mask Of Zorro so enjoyable is that it invites you to laugh not only with it, but at it. There are numerous outrageous cape twirls and wonderfully choreographed bad guy calamities. The pure insanity of Murrieta in his first Zorro outing stealing his horse is so over the top. We have walls falling down, bunk beds collapsing, cannon ball explosions and countless over-the-top facial expressions from both good guys and bad. We get the WWE small guy versus huge guy wrestling match, capped off by the family friendly teeth spitting collapse. The Mask Of Zorro is a mood of pure fun.

Director Martin Campbell has made three movies I love and think are under appreciated The Mask Of Zorro, Casino Royale (2005), and The Foreigner (2017).

Fun fact, The Mask Of Zorro was nominated for two Oscars in 1999 for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Stanko Rating: B (4.0/5 Stars)

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