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Movie Review

The Legend of Zorro

MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of violence/peril and action, language and a couple of suggestive moments.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Western Action Adventure Romance
2 hr. 9 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 28, 2005 (wide)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

parents that are too busy for their children

marriage strains

Biblical view of the roles of husbands and wives in marriage

ask God for his help in making your family the best it can be

the importance of courage, bravery and self-sacrifice


Featuring: Antonio BanderasDon Alejandro de la Vega / Zorro
Catherine Zeta-JonesElena de la Vega
Rufus SewellArmand
Alberto Reyes … Brother Ignacio
Julio Oscar Mechoso … Frey Felipe
Gustavo Sánchez Parra … Guillermo Cortez
Adrian Alonso … Joaquin de la Vega
more »
Director: Martin Campbell
Producer: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Tornado Productions Inc.
more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

Prequel: “The Mask of Zorro” / Older movie: The Mark of Zorro (1940).

It’s 1850, California is on the brink of becoming part of the United States. Don Alejandro de la Vega (handsome and charming Antonio Banderas) has more than he can handle with his headstrong wife, Elena de la Vega (always beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones), pleading with him to spend more time at the villa with his 10 year old son, Joaquin de la Vega (spunky performance by Adrian Alonso), who thinks his Dad is just another one of those workaholic Dons who never spends any quality time at home. Then put on top of that, Don Alejandro is also secretly Zorro, fighting for justice and the lives of his people for the last ten years, and you’ve got a guy who’s under a heck of a lot of stress.

There is the smell of sinister in the air as Jacob McGivnes (a surly Nick Chinlund) in an attempt to keep California from being the 31st State, swoops in with his band of dastardly riders to steal the ballot boxes after the ballots have been sealed and the voting booths closed. But, never fear, Zorro is here!

In a thrilling scene akin to the opening shot in the original “Mask of Zorro” Alejandro (AKA Zorro) on his trusty steed Tornado, valiantly clears out the town square of all bad guys while the cheering crowd rallies him on. The ballot box is recaptured and delivered to it’s rightful place in the hands of the Governor of California, as hundreds of enraptured citizens shout their approval. Zorro has once again saved the day.

Now what champion for the people in his right mind would want to leave all this behind? Well, if Mrs. Zorro has her way, that’s exactly what will happen. Elena loves her swashbuckling husband passionately, but in a last desperate attempt to get him to hang up his mask and stay home to be the father he needs to be to their son, she demands he ignore the five bells signal the next time it beckons his aid for the people. She announces he needn’t return home again if he answers the call this time. His heart torn between his duty and compassion for his people, and the deep love for his family, Alejandro finds he must answer the call when the bells chime. Sadly, Elena is not there upon his return.

Meanwhile, back at the lair, we’ve got the dastardly Count Armand (an elegant, yet foreboding Rufus Sewell), cooking up a plot to make not just California under his diabolical control, but all of the United States—using a secret explosive more powerful than any human in those days could imagine.

The U.S. Government, stealthy as they are, knows something is brewing and needs help. It seems two top Pinkerton men (Shuler Hensley and Michael Emerson) while on Mr. McGiven’s trail, saw Zorro’s face unmasked during a fight and now use Elena, blackmailing her to become a spy and forcing her to submit divorce papers to Alejandro. The only way to get close to the shrewd Count Armand, is to have a beautiful, unattached woman find out his inner most secrets, and the irresistible Elena is the only woman for the job.

Joaquin, though being raised by his parents to be a boy groomed as an aristocrat, has all of his Mother’s spunk and all of his Father’s vigor. He has no idea his Father is the valiant Zorro. Alejandro and Elena swore from his birth they would keep this a secret from him in order to keep him safe. It is evident as the plot thickens, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The young and courageous Joaquin wields a sword, rides a horse and fights off the bad guys like a ten year old fighting machine.

The only one who knows the secret identity of Zorro, is the trusted friend and man of God, Frey Felipe (Oscar Mechoso). The Padre is proven the anchor and dedicated advocate, even indulging in hand to hand combat when needed, to keep Zorro’s identity a secret and to save his life.

While fighting to defend the helpless and fighting to reclaim his family, Alejandro finds out how far a villain will go to reach complete power, and how much his beloved Elena has given up for the same purpose: defense of those who cannot fight for themselves and the safety of the new United States. Even his son shows great courage in the face of evil. In the end, the real strength of Zorro is not in the one, but in the unfailing love, determination and valor of the three.

Some might complain about the PG rating, because it kept this potentially adult script from blooming into something more. Even so, there are many scenes of getting drunk, blood, peril, violence, people being shot, stabbed and blown to bits. These instances and minor spattering of “adult” language, cussing in Spanish, two scenes where the Alejandro character is naked in a bath and in his bedroom (although the audience doesn’t see him naked directly), and a couple of passionate kissing scenes between the Alejandro and Elena characters probably should have pushed the rating into PG-13.

The Mr. McGiven’s character is a walking religious crazy man with a cross branded on the side of his face and wooden teeth (Zorro was involved in the loss of his real teeth in a fight at the beginning of the film). He struts through the movie spouting what seem like Bible verses, quotes like “I send you out a sheep amongst wolves,” “It’s time for me to do The Lord’s work,” and finally calling his guns “Salvation and Damnation.”

The Zorro character used his sword to fight off, but never kill his foes. He uses his head and heart to guide him. And, I might add, God. Alejandro storms into the church full of agony over his loss and cries out, “What do You want from me?” which shows us he feels he is protecting the people in the name of God, a servant for God. Then he goes down on his knees and prays, as we all should when we are in pain and don’t know what to do, “Help me, I beg of You, give me the courage and the strength.” What a great example to a young audience, that the good guy doesn’t have to kill and maim to win a fight. Even Zorro states to his young son, “Fighting is not the answer to everything!.”

Viewers may complain about the issues of divorce, but we find Elena has given into blackmail only to save that which she loves dearly. She gave up herself to save her family. The divorce, in those days was complete when the papers were served. She was not married to Alejandro when she started her spying activities on The Count. It was proven she was never unfaithful to her husband, that she stayed home with her son and never let another man take the place of his Father. She kept her integrity and showed great courage and devotion, not only to her family, but to her country. In the end, they were remarried knowing all was done for the purpose of honor.

The young Joaquin is hurt by his parent’s actions towards one another. He is confused and his little heart is aching. This hurt manifests itself in anger. He shouts with tears in his eyes, “I don’t blame mom for divorcing you,” because he is hurt and bewildered. This is not a sign of disrespect, but rather a cry for help.

His Father finally tells him the truth and promises never to be dishonest with him again. With love the Father shows humbleness and grace, committing to involve himself directly in his child’s needs.

“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV)

Sometimes we enter into relationships that leave us burned. As a result we promise ourselves not to make this mistake again and even allow our hearts to get calloused like Alejandro tried to do. His wife left him, his son won’t speak to him, his people are in peril, and he can’t seem to stop the pain. God calls us to get past what people have done and remain open to relationships He has for our future.

Family living is something that is a blessing, and it takes courage, commitment and sacrifice. Just think about the good that God has accomplished in your family despite any shortcomings. Our kids, our spouses and just about anyone close to us can make us feel helpless, confused and ineffective. But God knows all about parenting and marriage. He designed family life. Talk to him about problems as Alejandro did in the church.

Ask God for his help in making the family the best it can be. The underlying principle in God’s method of teaching are spelled out in Deuteronomy 6—in it is every aspect of family life, from a husband and wife’s love for each other, to the handling of each child and the details of household decisions. As Zorro proclaimed after all is said and done, “My family is my life.”

“The Legend of Zorro” is exciting from the beginning when Zorro on his brilliant horse Tornado storm the courtyard through to the riveting runaway train scene. It is all pluck, Saturday matinee, legend stuff… but hey, it’s movie! It was pure, crazy, heart pounding entertainment… and that’s what we many go to see!

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor to moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor to moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I saw the film on opening night and had a lot of high expectations. The story kept me glued to my seat for the entire film during which I experienced none of the offenses from the first movie (severed head, etc.). The chemistry between the two lead actors was still there, just aged a little. I could safely say,that I would have no problem bringing my family to see this film.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Robert Gauthier, age 35
Positive—My 13 yr. old son read the very long comment post complaining about the movie being severely watered down, due to its PG rating, and wasn’t sure he wanted to see it anymore, as he enjoys action as much as the next teenage boy. However, my husband and I were taking our 7, 9 and 11 yr. old sons to see the movie and our oldest son came along for the ride. We all loved the movie and were surprised it was as engaging as it was, being a sequel. It was appropriate for my 7 yr. old who scares easily, but also had enough action and a strong enough story line to hold our attention throughout. People in the theatre were clapping at the end of the movie, just to give you an idea of how it was received in general. I recommend this movie for families without very young children.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Rachelle Smotherman, age 32
Positive—I believe some of the reviewers have missed one main theme of the movie. In this movie, the couple separates because of the woman’s attempt to claim authority over her husband’s life. Our culture accepts this, and many men (both in and out of our church culture) live watered down lives of surpressed desires, resulting in the venire of happiness, yet the reality that is quite different. In the movie, Zorro doesn’t forfeit being Zorro, so, per the wife’s ultimatum, they separate.

Eventually, the couple reunites, very happily so, when the wife completely changes her tune, and supports her husband in his endeavour. It is critical to note the very last line in the movie. The wife says words to the effect of: “Because that’s who we are,” fully adopting the husband’s calling and efforts (note the word “we”). more »
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Steve Gish, age 53
Neutral—“The Mask of Zorro” is one of my all-time favorite movies, so of course, I had to see the sequel. I read a couple bad reviews for it, but I went anyway. Looking back, I really have mixed feelings about “The Legend of Zorro.” First, the bad qualities, so I can get them out of the way:
  • Joaquin is shown being pretty disrespectful towards his teacher, and seems to get away with it.
  • The villains were pretty good, but nowhere near as despicable as Don Montero and Captain Love in “The Mask of Zorro.”
  • I hated how the villain McGivens was such a negative stereotype of Christians. I can’t help feeling like that’s how some atheists think that real Christians act like, which is of course nonsense.
Now, for the good qualities:
  • While not as entertaining as “Mask of Zorro,” it definitely had a good story.
  • Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were both as great as they were the first time around.
  • It had a lot of really funny moments, especially the ones involving Zorro’s horse Tornado.
  • I really liked the faith and humility demostrated by Alexandro in the church.
  • The action sequences are very exciting.
All in all, you could go to “Legend of Zorro,” just ignore the few questionable aspects of it.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Adam Lind, age 21
Neutral—I saw little in this film to highlight any Christian values. The two that are worth mentioning is the power of love and also the role of the father in the household. Other than that, it has much that tears down Christianity. One of the main villains, Jacob McGivnes does show a cross scar on his cheek, and he is constantly spouting Scripture to justify his evil actions. In one scene, he pulls out two pistols that he has named Salvation and Damnation. The Catholic Priest is much better than Jacob, but still there are problems.

In several cases, Antonio is shown being drunk—with one classic scene that is reminiscent of Cat Ballou.

The importance of the father in the family did show up fairly strongly. The son was missing his father, and instead latched on to Zorro to fulfill the need. It wasn’t until later that he realized that both were the same man. It showed to me that a son looks up to his father, and the father is a role model to his children. The family was the way God meant the family to be, Mom, Dad and kids. All were/are important in raising well adjusted children in this world. more »
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3½
—David, age 55
Neutral—If, instead of “Neutral,” there had been a “Conflicted” category, I’d have chosen that. I find that I largely agree with Adam Lind, John Kehrli, and MK’s criticisms—except that I’m perfectly happy with the PG adjustments. Here are my additional remarks, and here is why I am “conflicted.”

I largely enjoyed the movie, through the miracle of “suspension of disbelief.” I took three of my children (the 22yod, the 10yos, and the 6yos), and they all had fun. The sixer wiggled during all dialogue, but that’s pretty standard for him. I thought the action sequences wholly incredible and pretty wonderful. All three leads got their chances to do acrobatics, and it was a lot of fun. Nice to see there must be a “little person” stunt man to do the son’s scenes.

I enjoyed both Banderas and Zeta-Jones greatly. It is still hard to believe that Zeta-Jones isn’t in any way Latin—except when she calls her husband “Ollie-handro” instead of “Ah-lay-handro.” The plot was interesting, the bad guys really bad, the good guys interesting, and we had fun. Except… more » My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—Dan Phillips, age 50
Neutral—All in all, the “Legend of Zorro” was an entertaining and action packed movie. Zorro had the constant challenge balancing fighting evil, and being a family with his wife and son, the latter of which he was failing. While the family struggled to become as “one” most of the movie, you could see the tide change as the movie progressed, when they all took a role in fighting and defeating the sinister element, so they could indeed be drawn closer as a family again.

While it comes as no surprise of the inconsistently of the Motion Pictures of American’s rating of movies, this PG movie should have been rated PG-13. While it contained very little bad language and no sexual content, there were numerous scenes of intense violence—swordfights, people being blown up, shot and stabbed, a man on fire screaming in pain, male bathtub nudity (with camera shots switching as males moved around at the last possible moment). more »
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
—Dave Caloiaro, age 46
Negative—I saw a reviewer compare the character in the new Zorro movie to being part Cowboy, part Pirate and part Batman, however in this movie he is also part Baby Huey—lacking everything that make the first one so original and great. The director swaps in much needed PG-13 rating for a PG in a sad attempt to gain a younger audiance, clearly attempting to keep the franchinse alive. …Sometimes a movie needs to be PG-13 to keep the integrity of the predecessor, as was needed in “The Legend of Zorro.”

What made the first Zorro movie so incredible was that the director and writers had a combination of seriousness, comedy but mostly charisma. Antonia Bandares and Catherine Zeta Jones just connected on a complimentary and sensual level that left most on-screen couples in the dust. Well, in this case, sadly history does not repeat itself. more »
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—John Kehrli, age 31
Negative—Ditto John Kehrli… He is right on! The movie is not very well made and the issue of the divorce, dumb storyline, rude child, etc. makes this a real stinker. …
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—William Beach, age 43
Negative—The movie is heavy with symbolism relevant to present-day issues in the U.S., as well as in California. The idea of statehood is presented ironically as mostly Hispanic crowds are shown cheering the prospect of statehood. This can be interpreted in the light of comments made by La Raza as independence from the U.S., as when Don Diego says to his son, speak the language of our fathers (i.e., Spanish in California). more »
My Ratings: Offensive / 1
Negative—Where to begin? The action in the film was so over the top, it was way past credulity and into the ridiculous cartoon realm. The reviewer referred to the hero, in a low point, pouring out his heart in prayer for courage and strength to fight his battle, but to a statue of Mary? We also have another bulwark of the faith, his sidekick monk who swills wine and turns his head when a pretty woman passes.

As was noted by another viewer, Zorro’s wife clearly shows her willingness to spend the night with the wicked count—in the guise of spying for the “good guys.” Of course, the evil McGivens is the (nowadays obligatory) Hollywood version of the hypocritical, ruthless, nutcase bible-quoter. A waste of twelve dollars and two hours. Take your children outside or have them read a book instead, like I should have done!
My Ratings: Average / 2½
—Michael, age 46
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a great movie, overall. I think the only bad parts were the ones where the peoples were making out. I mean, they were practically biting each other’s mouths off! geez… That’s not good. Other than that, it was great. The biblical value was that family is very important. That was probably the only one I saw. The rest of the movie was about keeping secrets, (Zoro’s son didn’t know that his father was Zoro, Elena didn’t tell Ale-whatever his name is that the divorce was ste up.) One of the parts I really like was when Zoro and his son were talking in Spanish. This movie wasn’t all about Christianity, but it was a fun, action-packed movie I guarantee most will love.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Sheila Kennedy, age 11
Positive—I absolutly loved this movie! At first when I saw the preview and the rating I thought, “oh this is going to be another really corny action movie” but while in the theater I found myself in suspense and being truly enraptured in the plot. It showed so many things that are happening today. It showed a son yearning for his fathers love, a father battling between his work and his family, and that man alone cannot win, we see Zorro kneeling and praying to God for help. I would recommend this film to viewers of all ages, some young children may have a problem with some of the violence, but overall I’d say this was an awesome movie!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Ansley, age 13
Positive—First of all, don’t see this movie unless you’ve seen the “Mask of Zorro”, or I don’t think you’ll first of all, understand the movie at all, and also, I doubt you would like it. I really liked this movie, I thought it was a great sequel to “The Mask of Zorro”, however, it had an interesting touch to it. One thing that surprised me, that is Elena, who is Zorro’s “Wife” In the movie, ends up divorcing her heroic husband, because she’s being tricked into doing so, and she is tired of never getting alone time with him, because he is always away doing his work. The reason this surprised me, was because they seemed so happy at the last part of the first movie, and Elena seemed so happy to be the former zorro’s daughter and the new Zorro’s wife.

I’ll admit I was confused during parts of this movie, both with the plot and also with the way the movie played out. I still think that Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Bandaras are awesome actress/actors! If you like the first movie, however, I think you should definitely go and see this movie, and I’m glad I went.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Rebecca Freeman, age 13
Positive—I liked the movie overall—it wasn’t too offensive, nor did it have any bad words—or at least any that I remembered. There were a couple moves and parts in the movie that were like, “yeah, right!” but I guess that’s why it’s called the LEGEND of Zorro. And the ending scene was very complicated.

Three different main characters all in different parts all doing different things while changing weapons every three seconds. But it was good nevertheless. I think this would be a good movie to see morally—there were a couple questionable things, but if you’re not too strict on what you watch, this would be a great movie to see. I recommend it!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Rachael, age 13
Positive—I thought this movie was excellent! The only parts that I did not appreciate were the cussing scenes. I went to see this movie with two friends, and I think this movie would be okay for little kids to watch being that the only inappropriate thing is the language.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Courtney, age 16
Positive—…a wonderful family movie. There are some scenes of violence that might disturb younger kids but are probably acceptable (there is one instance where a man gets fastened to the front of a train and killed, more then a few also meet their end in various ways involving nitroglycerin.)

The scenery was breathtaking for those of you who like deserts and cactus. I am somewhat a fan of cactus so I thought it looked cool. Not much besides the violence is offensive. The son calls the bad guy a bi*** but its in Spanish and most kids wouldn’t catch it unless they read subtitles really fast. Alejandro is depicted as a somewhat intelligent dad, unlike most movies that make dads look like idiots. It’s a great movie for kids that like a little action but nothing too gratuitous.

Religion is also in the movie and you see a monk, and once or twice Alejandro praying. All in all I say this movie deserves two thumbs up (in fact, if I had more then two thumbs I’d stick those up too!!)
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Mike, age 13
Movie Critics
…We need more adventure flicks that play like grown-up movies and can still be enjoyed by kids, like this one. …
—Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Phil Kloer
…Family, Honor and Heroism Extolled… clever, fast moving, and full of adventure…
—Crosswalk, Lisa Rice
…frantic, overcooked action comedy…
—Boston Globe, Ty Burr
…a long way from the dash and satisfactions of the earlier picture. …
—Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips

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