FEATURE | The Mask of Zorro

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Short Takes
Grading from A-F

The best of the recent crop of disaster movies. There is virtually no character development and a predictable plot, but the special effects and surprising humor (led by Steve Buschemi) make up for the short-comings. Affleck is disappointing in a made-for-Tom Cruise role. B

Dedicated fans beware: the movie doesn't pick up where the season ended and the pile of questions remains unanswered. Nit-picking aside, this is one fantastic episode of the X-Files, in most part because Chris Carter realizes the enormous advantage of the big-screen. A-

Intelligent and biting look at the political and PR landscape of 1990's campaigning. Warren Beatty (director, star) keeps the comedy and his message accelerating until a slightly disappointing ending. A-

An atypical blockbuster that nets fantastic results. Relying on plot and ingenuity rather than monsters or natural disaster, Jim Carrey's latest is a breath of fresh air. (more) A-

--Kevin Ridolfi, Rob Gallo


Rating: A
Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher. Directed by Martin Campbell. Rated PG-13, contains profanity, violence and nudity . Running time: 136.

KIMBERLY MONAT| Critics are fond of pointing out that movies just aren't what they used to be. As a whole today's films lack "movie magic," the breath-taking spark that makes a picture great. That was before "The Mask of Zorro," which lights up the screen with the brilliant techniques of yester-year.

TriStar's remake of the classic Disney television series has everything a movie should have: beautiful people, gorgeous scenery, fast paced action, deft humor and a light "Saturday Matinee" plot. The movie rolls along at an incredible clip, entertaining the audience without dragging for two and a half hours. The stunningly choreographed fencing scenes are alone worth the price of admission. But there is more to "Zorro" than its fancy sword play.

The plot has three intertwined themes: the father/daughter theme which is prevalent in this summer's movies (ie: Armageddon, Mulan, Deep Impact); the uplifting of the oppressed Mexicans; and the main thread of the movie, how Zorro is a necessary hero of the people during any age. Even with material that could easily be dealt with a more heavy handed manner, Zorro manages to keep a light touch. It is completely entertaining with (blessedly) short romantic interludes and a minimum of gore. The story lines flow effortlessly with crisp and interesting dialogue. Although the plot is predictable to an avid movie-goer, it is still thoroughly entertaining. Director Martin Campbell shows a knack for staying properly within the genre and keeps the actors on-course as well.

The principle characters are well defined and played with wit and charm by Antonio Banderas (Desperado, Philadelphia Story), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones. The villains are somewhat two dimensional, but none-the-less entertaining for their black and white nature. One of the producers of the film is none other than Steven Speilberg, which becomes apparent during the climax of the movie (watch for a large explosion).

"The Mask of Zorro" is one of the best action movies to come out of Hollywood this summer. It's a great old-fashioned romp through the California Territory, proving that old-fashioned movie magic is alive and well. This film shows just how wonderful the movie-going experience should be.


KIMBERLY MONAT of Milford, MA is a contributing writer.

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