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Banderas unmasks Zorro sequel


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Wowzers. I saw Zorro last night. Half of me is glad I did, half of me isn't.

For starters, I'll just say that Banderas is still good. Too good for this material, actually. He's a darn talented actor, and I believed him 100% just like last time. I'll also add that the film's fight scenes and sword duels are still top notch, in the areas of choreography and stunt pizzazz (though narratively, they aren't as tense or interesting as they were in the first film).

Beyond this, though, what we have here is essentially the death of what could have been a darn fine 3 or 4 movie franchise if it had been tackled earlier. What a shame. The plot just utterly sucks. I was outraged by the cheap, cop-out development involving the

Knights of Aragon

. What a piddling, lame way to justify villainous activity. In Mask of Zorro, the bad guys were just as inhumanly nasty, but their evil plot was clever and their objectives were plausible and interesting. Not so here. And BTW, the guys who play the villains were horrible, and CZJ wasn't much better. The whole thing with the pipe was stupid, and she looked embarassed saying those lines.

And FWIW, the film both advertently and inadvertently copies just about every other action or adventure movie possible. The irritating son-of-Zorro subplot is pulled from The Mummy Returns, the unmasking-the-hero stuff from Spider-Man 2, the feuding-couple-reignited-by-trouble from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It's a shame, too, because the last Zorro movie was the kind of movie that other movies imitate!

Still, I liked the closing action scene, even though it takes place on- what else?- a moving train. It felt good to get at least some braindead visual payoff in the end, since most of the middle of the film is just cartoonish banter between Zorro, Elena, and that wooden-toothed fundy.

What's most troubling of all, however, is that Ted Elliot and Ted Rossio (who were behind the screenplays of the first Zorro and also Pirates of the Caribbean) contributed to this mess. They've effectively killed Zorro, so it might just stand to reason that Pirates 2 and 3 aren't going to fare so well.

Overall, I'm definitely lilting negative on Legend of Zorro. It's a heartfelt disappoinment. Maybe in another 20 years or so, somebody else can get a good Zorro franchise going and actually sustain it past one film.

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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Speaking of political/national/regional differences, and getting back to the movie, were people from the South already calling themselves "Confederates" in 1850?

Don't think so.

And did people actually call nitroglycerin by the abbreviation "nitro" back then?

Doubt it. 'Twas invented in 1846 by an Italian chemist, Ascanio Sobrero, so chronologically its use in the film is at least plausible. But the line from the film about highly purified glycerine is misleading. Nitroglycerin is simply glycerine mixed with nitric and sulfuric acid; without the acids it doesn't matter how pure the glycerine is.

There are probably other (potential) anachronisms in this movie, but I'm not actually reviewing this one, so I wasn't taking notes.

Well, here are a few:

The vote to ratify California's constitution took place Nov. 13, 1849, not in 1850. The state was admitted to the Union in Sept. 1850, a period of 10 months, not 3 as in the film.

Winchester repeaters and brass bullet casings weren't in use in 1850. Benjamin Tyler Henry patented the first repeating rifle in 1860; it was in production by 1862 and used by Federal soldiers in the Civil War.

The tickertape machine wasn't invented until 1867.

A woman, much less a Catholic woman, in 1850 wouldn't sue her husband for divorce, and the Church wouldn't "remarry" the couple later.

Confederate dress uniforms certainly weren't in use in 1850.

Even a grand hacienda like Armand's wouldn't be likely to have indoor plumbing, so it makes no sense for Elena to ask where the bathroom is.

Polo was introduced to British tea planters on the Indian subcontinent in the 1850s, making it highly unlikely that a Spaniard established in California would already be familiar with the sport in 1850.

Gen. Beauregard served the Confederacy during the Civil War, making it unlikely that he was killed in a nitroglycerin explosion in California in 1850. (He's standing nearby when Elena throws Armand's henchman from the train.) Beauregard would have been 34 in 1850; the film portrays him as quite a bit older.

Allan Pinkerton founded his detective agency in Chicago in 1850. The agency didn't work for the federal government until after it foiled a pre-inauguration plot to assassinate Lincoln in 1861. So it's unlikely that two Pinkerton agents would be working in California in 1850 on behalf of the Feds.

In 1850 Abraham Lincoln had left the U.S. House of Representatives and was practicing law in Illinois, making it unlikely that he would have been on hand for California's statehood ceremony.

Fr. Junipero Serra introduced winemaking to California in 1769. Vineyards were well established in Sonoma by 1850, and settlers such as George Yount had started them in Napa Valley in the 1840s. So Armand's vineyards are plausible. The swords are historically accurate, including Armand's "rack of rapiers," but in many other areas the film is rife with anachronism.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

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A Catholic woman in 1850 wouldn't sue her husband for divorce, and the Church wouldn't "remarry" the couple later.

The second half of this sentence, of course, is not just an anachronism, since it would not happen in any age. The error is theological, not chronological.

As for the first half of the sentence, even without the modifier "Catholic," the event in question is beyond ludicrous as depicted. No-fault divorce didn't exist in 1850; some very serious charge would have to be lodged. Moreover, the child would almost certainly have been placed in the custody of his father, not his mother. In 1850, the overwhelming presumption was that the father, not the mother, would have the means to provide for the children, so the courts were greatly biased in favor of the man.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Excellent points, SDG. The divorce, even though it's a sham divorce, is treated so flippantly in the film that I'm not sure what is meant by the suggestion that it's a "family-friendly" movie. We're not shown anything like the amount of emotional trauma that Joaquin would be sure to suffer.

A friend who saw the film with us recognized a candy dish in a shot near the end ... it's a pattern she collects. It's not from the 1850s either.

P.S.

The tickertape machine wasn't invented until 1867.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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A Catholic woman in 1850 wouldn't sue her husband for divorce, and the Church wouldn't "remarry" the couple later.

Yes, but the priest was a "cool" priest, so maybe he wasn't all about little details. And my but didn't he

kick butt at the end of the movie

? Yet another thing that made radical suspension of belief utterly mandatory for seeing this movie. My forehead hurt because I smacked it too much during the movie. And was a "cool" priest supposed to cancel out the offense of the other religious psycho?

Funny story: my wife & I weren't planning on seeing this movie. We were planning on seeing that movie that stars Gwyneth Paltrow and starts with P. We made the decision quickly & hoped we got it right. During the "trivia slides" that preceded the previews, she commented, "Wouldn't it be funny if we were at the wrong movie?" Literally JUST THEN, we saw a trivia slide for the movie Proof. We... were at Prime, which I thought was going to be dumb. Oops. So we snuck over to Zorro instead--big improvement. Nonetheless, I was somewhat entertained by it.

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