Everything old is new again in The Mask of Zorro--a roisterous, boisterous throwback to the days of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. Whether thrusting his sword, cracking his whip or flying through the air with the greatest of ease, Zorro has always been the most athletic of cinema's superheroes. And his mythos--Robin Hood plus Jesus Christ plus Santa Anna Claus--would have seemed adaptable to each and every movie-going era. But the masked avenger has been lying low during the '80s and '90s, shoved into the closet by that 1981 swishbuckler Zorro, the Gay Blade. Perhaps only those of us who wore Zorro masks while watching the TV series will be heartened by The Mask of Zorro. Still, who says they don't make 'em like they used to?
They don't very often, but here's your chance to see a movie that combines love, honor, fun and adventure without stooping to a single car crash. Anthony Hopkins is Zorro the Elder, Antonio Banderas Zorro the Younger, the latter trained by the former in a sequence that evokes Merlin and Arthur, Yoda and Luke. They both seek revenge against the bad guys, which is all you need to know in the way of plot--that, and the dazzling presence of Catherine Zeta-Jones as Hopkins' long-lost daughter. The Mask of Zorro never quite regains the superlative buoyance of its opening sequence, but how many movies do? Director Martin Campbell, who resuscitated James Bond in Goldeneye, has now breathed new life into Zorro. What's next, the Pink Panther?