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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Martin Campbell
Cast:
Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alberto Reyes, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Gustavo Sanchez-Parra, Adrian Alonso, Nick Chinlund, Giovanna Zacarías, Carlos Cobos
Writing Credits:
Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Johnston McCulley (character), Ted Elliott (story), Terry Rossio (story)

Synopsis:
The original caped crusader is back! Antonio Banderas and Academy Award-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones return for more swashbuckling action, adventure and excitement in the explosive cinematic thrill-ride, The Legend of Zorro!

Having spent the last ten years fighting injustice and cruelty, Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) is now facing his greatest challenge: his loving wife Elena (Zeta-Jones) has thrown him out of the house! Elena has filed for divorce and found comfort in the arms of Count Armand (Rufus Sewell), a dashing French aristocrat. But Alejandro knows something she doesnt: Armand is the evil mastermind behind a terrorist plot to destroy the United States. And so, with his marriage and countrys future at stake, it's up to Zorro to try and save two unions before it's too late.

Box Office:
Budget
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$16.328 million on 3520 screens.
Domestic Gross
$45.356 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 1/31/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Cinematographer Phil Meheux
• Deleted Scenes
• Four Featurettes
• Multi-Angle Feature
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Legend Of Zorro: Special Edition (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 7, 2006)

When a movie spawns a sequel, the follow-up flick usually hits screens two or three years after the original. For horror movies, this often accelerates, while some films take a little longer. In the “a whole lot longer” category comes 2005’s The Legend of Zorro, the successor to 1998’s The Mask of Zorro. Seven years between movies isn’t unprecedented, but it’s rare.

Why’d it take so long? I don’t know. A better question: why’d they bother? With its $93 million gross, Mask wasn’t exactly a massive blockbuster. Unlike Alien or The Terminator - two other movies with seven-year gaps between releases – it didn’t create a strong cult following over the years. Whatever the case may be, Legend finally made it to the screen and then inspired a pretty large collective yawn. It made only $45 million, so I don’t expect Zorro 3 in 2012.

Which is probably a good thing since Legend offers such a lackluster piece of work. All is not well in the life of Zorro (Antonio Banderas) – at least not in regard to his alter ego, Don Alejandro de la Vega. He promises to hang up the mask to satisfy his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) but reneges when trouble brews. California stands on the brink of becoming a state, and some oppose this. Alejandro feels that Zorro needs to make sure things go right, while Elena thinks he needs to be home with his son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso).

Complications occur due to Zorro’s unmasking after a fight with scummy villain McGivens (Nick Chinlund) and his men. McGivens doesn’t see Zorro’s face, but some mysterious dudes (Michael Emerson and Shuler Hensley) do, and they use this information against Elena. Soon after they meet with her, she abruptly files for divorce.

The film jumps ahead three months to show that Alejandro hasn’t exactly prospered without her. On the other hand, she’s taken up with an old friend, Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). They’ve become a couple, much to the dismay of Alejandro. The rest of the movie follows elements related to that love triangle as well as an insidious plot to disrupt the United States.

I left this synopsis fairly general because it’d become way too complicated to attempt to spell out the whole story with more specifics. I’ve seen more muddled movies than Legend but find it hard to think of them right now. Much of the time I had little clue what was going on, as the film shifted from one subject to another without much cohesion.

This would be fine if it came together in a satisfying manner eventually, or at least left us enough clues to piece it together on our own. Unfortunately, Legend remains confusing simply because director Martin Campbell can’t figure out a compelling way to tell the tale. It meanders about until near the end, when we finally figure out the overview.

By then it becomes too little, too late. For all the wanderings and machinations, the story adds up to your basic Bond wannabe. It’s a bunch of guys who want to run the world – been there, done that. At least Bond movies usually feature interesting villains, but Legend gives us characters who tend toward the dishwater side of dull. McGivens has some potential, but he’s played as such a stock baddie that he never develops.

The schizophrenic nature of the film doesn’t help. Its first half comes with precious little action. After a big opening scene, it degenerates into a combination of domestic drama and romantic comedy. Neither side works particularly well, and both overstay their welcome.

After the set-up of Mask, I think fans wanted to see some combo-Zorro action in which he and Elena act as a team. Both get some action moments, but rarely do they work together. The film teases us with those elements and even gives little Joaquin some Junior Zorro action, but it doesn’t satisfy.

I suppose it attempts to give us what we want by the end, but again, the film’s bored us too much to allow us to care. Like everything else in Legend, the climax lasts way too long. Funny - Mask was a longer film, but it didn’t seem like it. The movie offered enough fun and frivolity to involve me. Legend works in the opposite direction. It grows tedious and bores without much relief.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

The Legend of Zorro appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not quite as lovely to look at as Mask, the transfer remained consistently satisfying.

Due to a bit of edge enhancement, some wider shots appeared slightly soft. However, these were the exception to the rule. Usually the movie came across as distinctive and concise. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws never marred the presentation.

As was the case with Mask, Legend featured a warm, golden tone. The colors always looked rich and full. They showed vivid hues and were quite attractive. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were clear and appropriately detailed. This was a solid image.

Even better, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Legend of Zorro added kick to the proceedings. It offered a simply stellar soundfield. All five speakers received a lot of usage as they blasted the action. Elements were appropriately placed, blended smoothly, and transitioned cleanly.

The mix used the surrounds to terrific effect. Whether during crowd scenes, basic environment or big action spectaculars, the rear channels contributed a great deal of strong material. They fleshed out the track well and gave it an involving aspect.

Only speech caused some minor quality concerns. A little edginess occurred, and I also thought the lines occasionally seemed a bit wooden. Nonetheless, dialogue was usually more than adequate, and I never noticed any problems with intelligibility. The score was bright and dynamic, while effects were excellent. They showed great range and clarity as they blasted through the movie. No distortion interfered, and bass response was terrific. Low-end was tight and lacked any boominess. Overall, this was a very positive piece of audio.

When we move to the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Martin Campbell and cinematographer Phil Meheux. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific affair. Campbell recorded fun commentaries for Mask of Zorro and GoldenEye, but his track for Vertical Limit was more of a yawner. Unfortunately, the Legend conversation more closely resembles the latter.

Campbell and Meheux largely stick to technical subjects. We hear a lot about sets and locations, various effects, stunts and choreography, and visual selections. We get a little about characters and story, with occasional notes about cut sequences and snippets removed to ensure a “PG” rating. We learn some nice tidbits such as thoughts about how they could have allowed the deceased Anthony Hopkins character to return here.

All of that is well and good, and both show a lot of enthusiasm in this chatty piece. However, Campbell comes across as a little too full of himself here. We find many comments about scenes that he likes and lots of praise for all involved. This feels more self-congratulatory than I’d like, and it makes an otherwise useful commentary turn tedious. There’s still a reasonable amount of info on display, but the surfeit of happy talk means that this can become a chore to screen.

Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 35 seconds. Most of these simply flesh out the various machinations of the plot, though the “bookends” that would have started and finished the film are interesting; they show an adult Joaquin.

Except for “Alternate Opening and Closing”, we can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Campbell. (“Alternate” can be screened only with commentary.) He lets us know a little about the clips and relates why they failed to make the final film.

Four featurettes appear. Stunts goes for nine minutes, 20 seconds, and mixes movie shots, bits from the set, and interviews. We find notes from Campbell, stunt coordinator Gary Powell, second unit director John Mahaffie, head of animal department Jack Lilley, producer Lloyd Phillips and actors Antonio Banderas and Rufus Sewell. We get some general notes about the stunts and details of a few specific elements as well as Banderas’ qualifications to do his own work and dealing with animals.

Inevitably, matters feel a bit fluffy at times, but the show compensates with lots of good behind the scenes moments. I like the shots of Banderas at work and these give us a nice feel for the shoot. It’s also refreshing to hear Sewell tell us he doesn’t want to do stunts; actors usually proudly insist on how they desire to do this work, so it’s fun to discover a different viewpoint from Sewell.

During the 12-minute and 23-second Playing with Trains, we hear from Campbell, Powell, Phillips, miniatures designer and supervisor Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop’s Wayne Dawson. “Playing” looks at the big fight sequence that takes place on a train. We learn about choreography, the train set, visual effects, and actually shooting the scene. As with “Stunts”, this one benefits from many good behind the scenes shots, and we learn a lot about the filming of the miniature train. It turns into a tight and informative piece.

Armand’s Party goes for 12 minutes and one second. It features Campbell, Phillips, Meheux, Banderas, Sewell, second assistant director Jamie Marshall, actor Catherine Zeta-Jones and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. “Party” focuses on the details of that scene. We watch Marshall’s efforts to wrangle the extras and make the shoot work on a nuts and bolts level. We also learn about lighting and other challenges like the weather as well as the writing and performing of the scene. I like this emphasis on the various technical elements, and once again, a lot of shots from the set flesh out the program well.

Lastly, Visual Effects fills five minutes, 48 seconds with details from visual effects supervisor Kent Houston and graphic designers Fortunato Frattasio and Enid Dalkoff. They discuss various effects in the film like fire during a fight, eliminating visual distractions and some embellishments, and digital actors. Short and to the point, this show aptly illustrates a mix of techniques. It adds good info to the package.

Two Multi-Angle sequences show up as well. We finds “Armand’s Party” (2:37) and “Winery Fight” (0:53). We can watch each segment as rehearsal footage, behind the scenes pieces, or the final clip from the film. There’s also an “all in one” screen that shows these three at the same time. I like these and find the rehearsal bits to be especially fun.

The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Open Season, The Pink Panther (2006), and Memoirs of a Geisha. These also appear in the Previews area along with trailers for Monster House, Sueno, The Gospel and The Mask of Zorro. No trailer for Legend pops up on the DVD.

While The Mask of Zorro came as a pleasant surprise back in 1998, 2005’s The Legend of Zorro provides a convoluted disappointment. The movie lacks zest or spark and never goes anywhere fun. The DVD offers solid picture and audio along with a small but interesting mix of extras. Fans of the movie will like this quality DVD, but I can’t recommend the movie to anyone who doesn’t already like it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.0625 Stars Number of Votes: 16
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