Movie Night: The Mask of Zorro

Year: 1998

Director: Martin Campbell

Production Company: TriStar Pictures

Leads: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins

The-Mask-of-ZorroThe Mask of Zorro is one of those delightful film that really doesn’t require any effort at all on the part of the audience. It’s the epitome of a blockbuster: tragedy, comedy, famous actors, plenty of action, mandatory explosions, and a plot that is simply silky smooth.

What happens? In a nutshell, Don Rafael Montero is the cruel dictator, forced out of California as it tries to assert its independence. Zorro of course intervenes, and Don Rafael tracks him back to the home of Don Diego de la Vega, puts two and two together, and tries to kill him. Instead, Diego’s wife is killed, he’s captured, and Don Rafael takes his infant daughter as his own.

Fast-forward twenty years, and Don Rafael returns from Spain as the savior of California as it falls under attack from the Mexican army. Old Zorro escapes, finds Alejandro, trains him to be young Zorro, and the stage is set for a plethora of escapades and adventures, culminating in the double battle of Diego against Rafael, and Alejandro against Captain Harrison Love, who killed his brother.

The honest truth is that, like so many blockbusters, the plot really doesn’t matter. What matters are the laughs, the gasps, the awws and the cheers; the sword fighting, the explosions, the love interest and sexual tension that’s never quite relieved. Anyone remember this scene?

There are a million and one things wrong with it (never mind continuity; how exactly does one cut a dress from a person with a few swipes of a sword and not at the very least nick them?), but it just simply doesn’t matter. It’s fun.

And therein lies the genius of the movie. It’s a feel-good film. You come away with the sense that you’ve spent the past two hours of your life well, because you enjoyed yourself. Never mind that you could have been watching something with substance, like…like…well I can’t think of any Westerns with substance, but you get the point. It’s the ultimate switch-off movie, a wild west version of a Die Hard movie (and infinitely better than Wild Wild West, as it happens).

Little Satis, of course, loved every moment of it, bar the smooching, and spent the following two days flying around the house with a cape and a stick, brandishing it at us every chance he got. He enjoyed it; I enjoyed it; time well spent.

What are your favorite thought-free blockbusters?

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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