In between GoldenEye and Casino Royale, director Martin Campbell dropped two other throwback films of another franchise, that of the swashbuckling vigilante from Spanish California, Don Diego de la Vega AKA Zorro. Zorro debuted in a 1919 novel by Johnston McCulley, but a 1920 Douglas Fairbanks film sent McCulley into a forty-year stint writing more stories that spawned live-action television shows, animated series, and films in multiple countries and languages. Today, Sony delivered two films starring the dashing Antonio Banderas on 4K HD, The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro.
In the first, de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) escapes from prison, looking to avenge his wife’s death and reconnect the daughter he never really knew, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Issues are of course plentiful as Elena has been taken in as the daughter of Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), a corrupt businessman/politician playing a dangerous game with Mexican general Santa Anna. Set against the backdrop of the Mexican-American War, the first film is exciting, dramatic, and stylish, as Banderas’ thief-turned-apprentice assumes the role of the masked vigilante fighting the corrupt government and fighting on behalf of the people who deserve better.
In the second, nine movie years later, Zorro continues to fight for justice, but society seems to be moving on from needing Zorro and Banderas’ masked hero is forced to find new ways to fight. Of course, Zeta-Jones returned — and a new villain, Rufus Sewell’s Count Armand, tries to meddle (and profit) in the conflict between the Union and the Confederacy in the Civil War. (A younger Michael Emerson gets in on the act here, too.) Unfortunately, there are two many convolutions to this one, and it just pales in comparison to the first. (It still more than doubled its budget in income.)
Films like this, full of action, swordplay and explosions are well worth seeing in high def and the 4K HD provides a stunning ability to do that. Fun for the whole family (okay, it’s a bit violent), the films of Zorro provide an awesome reminder of our obligation to defend the innocent and fight for the oppressed. Time travel back to old California – and leave the mark of the Z!