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The Mask of Zorro (1998)



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With 1998's The Mask of Zorro, Hollywood has taken a step back to the glory days of stunts and amazing physical feats. This great tradition, started early in the silent era with Douglas Fairbanks and Buster Keaton, had fallen by the wayside in favor of explosions and computer graphics. But The Mask of Zorro reminds us how much fun these raw displays of physical athleticism can be. The opening sequence sets the right tone. Anthony Hopkins, cloaked in the black garb of the infamous hero, bounds over people, up stairs, and on the side of buildings, sword swinging and cape billowing.

There's a lot of that in this movie, and what's intriguing is that the action scenes are integral pieces of the plot rather than something the story has to stop for. The set up is that Anthony Hopkins, playing the traditional Zorro hero Don Diego de la Vega, needs to train a replacement -- Alejandro Murrieta, played by Antonio Banderas -- to take his place. They each have their respective scores to settle, and it's a given that the climax will involve the obligatory showdowns with the badguys.

The Mask of Zorro is a fun action film that doesn't even require a brain check at the door. The supporting cast are caricatures (entertaining ones, but caricatures nonetheless), but the two Zorros are characters we care about, and the acting -- by Anthony Hopkins in particular -- is strong.

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