I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

The Mask of Zorro

You know me, I love these modern (like, 1990s or later) takes on old timey adventure heroes. For example I enjoyed THE SHADOW, THE PHANTOM, THE LONE RANGER and THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, all of which were considered flops. I suspect the generation that was greenlighting these kinds of pictures is gone, and the tradition will die out, but I appreciate their contributions to my entertainment.

There’s only one I can think of that was a genuine hit. THE MASK OF ZORRO opened at #1, made $250 million worldwide, even got a sequel. One of its biggest marks was making Catherine Zeta-Jones into a movie star. Obviously you and I already knew her as a villain who switches to the good guy side in THE PHANTOM, but executive producer Steven Spielberg (DEEP IMPACT) recommended her after seeing her in a Titanic mini-series. MASK OF ZORRO was the thing most people knew her from before ENTRAPMENT, THE HAUNTING, HIGH FIDELITY, TRAFFIC, CHICAGO, etc. For screenwriters Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio (SMALL SOLDIERS), who are credited alongside John Eskow (PINK CADILLAC, AIR AMERICA) and Randall Jahnson (DUDES, THE DOORS) it was the prototype epic-period-adventure-movie template they would use for four PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies and THE LONE RANGER.

As far as I know nobody ever talks about THE MASK OF ZORRO anymore. But they should. It’s fucking great.

Anthony Hopkins (BAD COMPANY) plays Don Diego de la Vega, a rich California fancy lad who moonlights as the masked vigilante swashbuckler known as Zorro. During the Mexican War of Independence he dashes around, gracefully darting across roofs, swinging with his whip, doing gymkata on flag poles, leaping over people, outsmarting, outfoxing and outfencing corrupt Spanish authorities, giving hope to peasants until, inevitably, he comes home one night to his wife (Mexican actress Julieta Rosen), baby and mansion and finds that fucking Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson, LETHAL WEAPON 3), has figured out who he is and is ready to bust him before fleeing for Spain. A soldier shoots de la Vega’s wife, the Don steals his daughter, and he gets locked up.

But during that thrilling last ride there were two peasant boys, Alejandro (Jose Maria de Tavira Bianchi) and Joaquin (Diego Sieres) Murrieta, who watched and cheered him on, and even tipped him off to an ambush. Twenty years later they’re played by Antonio Banderas (SECURITY) and Victor Rivers (L.A. TAKEDOWN) and they’re sort of Robin Hood type rebel bandits working with Three-Fingered Jack (L.Q. Jones, HANG ‘EM HIGH) until two of the three get shot by Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher, 13 HOURS, PREHYSTERIA! 3). Only Alejandro escapes to become a sloppy, vengeance-seeking drunk.

Meanwhile, Zorro is rotting away in a dank dungeon, looking like a long-haired zombie. That is until that asshole Don Rafael Montero comes looking for him, doesn’t recognize him, and assumes he’s dead. Zorro basically reactivates and escapes, as if he could’ve done this from day 1, but didn’t have a reason until that rat fuck was back on California soil. Fate brings de la Vega together with the younger but undisciplined Alejandro, who he duels with his cane and then decides to train for the benefit of one or more of their vendettas.

This is a well told story that has all the good shit you want in a movie like this. Training montages. A secret lair. The passing down of a super hero mantle. Undercover missions. Missions that go comically off the rails due to inexperience. Missions that go incredible because a couple training montages will suffice for legendary skills and grace. A hero who is a father figure to a younger hero who is in love with the father figure’s actual daughter (Zeta-Jones as Elena), who doesn’t know the older hero is her father because she was raised by the villain. Also a villainous master plan that involves stealing gold but who cares, the real issue is that they’re forcing peasants (including children) to mine the gold, and new Zorro doesn’t abide that shit.

The Zorro Cave is pretty cool. There’s a little VIP lounge type area with a table for de la Vega to enjoy wine and a smoke while Alejandro swings and somersaults over a web of ropes. They spar with swords and Alejandro does pushups between three benches over a bed of candles while de la Vega uses his back as a footrest and reads a book.

When the teacher decides the student is ready, they sneak into a dinner for the nobles, where they both get information and as a bonus Alejandro dances sexily with Elena. Alejandro impersonates a don and de la Vega his servant. I have to wonder if Tarantino was homaging (either consciously or unconsciously) MASK OF ZORRO in DJANGO UNCHAINED when King and Django use a similar (but reverse) charade to infiltrate Candyland. Of course it’s a common trope, but check out Alejandro’s outfit!

That piece of shit Don Rafael Montero is not the most colorful villain, but I think he’s a pretty good one due to Wilson’s performance. The character has got to realize he’s evil (in the opening scene he tries to execute three random peasants to lure Zorro) but Wilson plays him like a guy who would try to convince you he was actually pretty cool. Like, he’d swear he really did love de la Vega’s wife (who he got killed), and really does love Elena (who he kidnapped and lied to). He’d probly even claim to kind of like Zorro, judging from his smile as he watches him in action in the opening. Believe me, if we sat down and had a beer together we’d be best friends. I hate to do it, but I just have to kill you and lock up peasants in cages and stuff.

There’s also this little humanizing, comical touch that makes me laugh in two scenes where he reacts to Elena’s obvious sexual attraction to Alejandro. During the party scene he’s walking and talking with some VIPs and straight up does a double take to the couple’s lusty dance. Then he runs down to get a better look, pushes a guy out of the way. Doesn’t look angry. Looks scared.

(Alejandro covers for the dirty dancing with a bullshit slut-shaming move though, saying “Your daughter is a very spirited dancer!” Patrick Swayze he is not. Montero thanks him “for putting it so delicately.” The old man also makes condescending comments about women when Elena shows that she’s the only one at the table with a conscience.)

Later, Montero rushes into the stable and finds Elena half naked after swordfighting new-Zorro.

The other villain, the Captain, has that type of uptight non-charisma that would bug me even if he was nice, so I’m glad I have a legitimate reason to hate him. He just seems like such an unlikable prick, basically a bad cop who murdered Alejandro’s brother, but out of left field he turns out to be a total sicko who he keeps Joaquin’s severed head in a jar and uses it to scare Alejandro. Our boy plays it so cool that he drinks a cup of water out of the jar. And luckily is not vomiting for the rest of the movie.

Despite that fucked up shit this is a really fun, light-hearted movie full of A+ action sequences. Of course there’s lots of sword business (with all the possible matchups between the various heroes and villains) but also you get your 1800s equivalent of high speed vehicle action. He steals a pack of horses from soldiers by jumping on the one at the back and transferring from horse to horse, knocking their riders off one by one and doing show-offy tricks like standing on two horses like he’s waterskiing.

I guess it’s not even technically showing off, because nobody sees him do it. He just exists in a constant state of awesomeness.

And of course there’s a big finale with multiple duels going on at the mine and everybody helping out and the oppressed being liberated and one of the villains getting squooshed under a falling wagon of gold bars. It’s all tied up in a beautiful storybook bow and then it says “you know what, you’re a great audience, you deserve to go out on some more awesomeness. Here is silhouetted Zorro slicing a Z into the screen and for some reason it’s a Z made out of fire. You’re welcome.”

It’s beautiful. We need more bombastic shit like that in our cinema. I don’t even care that it was probly put in there as an apology for the saccharine pop ballad version of the theme music (“I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You” – Tina Arena duet with Marc Anthony, to the tune of the score by James Horner) that was about to send us fleeing from the theater.

Also, try not to think about the silhouette pretty much looking like the end of BATMAN AND ROBIN.

Spielberg developed the script in the early ’90s and considered directing it himself before giving it to Mikael Salomon (HARD RAIN, cinematographer of THE ABYSS), with Sean Connery cast as the older Zorro. But in 1995 Robert Rodriguez signed on, bringing his DESPERADO stars Banderas and Salma Hayek. Because of Rodriguez’s track record, Tri-Star saw an opportunity to do it at a lower budget, but he wanted a little more than they’d give him and dropped out. (As always is the case, they ended up making it for $18 million more than he was asking.) Eventually it ended up with director Martin Campbell, his followup to GOLDENEYE. Obviously Banderas stuck around, while Hayek was replaced with the Welsh Salma Hayek.

Cinematographer Phil Meheux (MAX HEADROOM, HIGHLANDER II, GHOST IN THE MACHINE, THE SMURFS) has done half a dozen movies with Campbell, and they work great together here. Here’s a nice shot where they weren’t fucking around about making iconic imagery:

We know from GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE that Campbell can put together a good action scene. I remember Drew McWeeny reporting back in the day that the director used storyboards already prepared by Rodriguez. I can’t confirm that, but I buy it, especially because of all the gags in maybe my favorite sequence, the one where just-starting-out young Zorro goes to steal a horse and has to fight a bunch of guys. They pig pile on him, he crawls out from under the pile without them noticing, gets chased by some other guys, runs up and over the pile, but the pile moves as his pursuers get on top and they go flying. He swings from a rope to a chandelier to some bull horns on the wall which fall down with him and he uses them as a weapon. He finds himself face-to-stomach with a giant

(Óscar Zerafín González) who throws him across the room, where he finds two cannonballs that he uses to knock the guy out. The others watch the behemoth spit out his teeth and fall like a tree and then they look back and Zorro is in kind of a Bugs Bunny pose with a lit torch next to the fuse of the cannon.

Once he blows them away he gets carried away yelling “ZORRO! THE LEGEND HAS RETURNED!” and tosses the torch aside, immediately realizing that he has started a fire near a bunch of explosives. Banderas does a perfect smile and head nod of over-confidence when he has carried a barrel of gun powder away from the flames, but then realizes there’s a hole in it and he’s leaving a trail that is already burning down like a fuse. There’s as much detail in its cool moves and gags as in a great Jackie Chan sequence.

(And a thing that’s either a coincidence or a leftover from Rodriguez’s development: Zorro hides in a confession booth, which also happens in DESPERADO and MACHETE.)

Whatever Rodriguez’s influence, second unit director/stunt coordinator Glenn Randall Jr. (E.T., REMO WILLIAMS, ON DEADLY GROUND, THE SUBSTITUTE) does a fantastic job. And the sword choreography is by Bob Anderson, the Olympic fencer, Darth Vader light saber double and swordplay designer of HIGHLANDER, THE PRINCESS BRIDE and the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, who had also trained the most famous movie swashbuckler ever, Errol Flynn. Banderas, Hopkins and Zeta-Jones rehearsed the fights with him for two months during pre-production. Banderas also spent another four months with the Spanish Olympic fencing team. And it paid off. There are pretty obvious stunt doubles (which I find sort of charming) but also a bunch of scenes that had me thinking “Wow, he really learned to do that?”

I hope, with my love of Old Timey Adventure heroes, that I’m not being too forgiving of outmoded racial attitudes, like one of those people who try to argue that there’s nothing offensive about SONG OF THE SOUTH. I’m very aware that the Lone Ranger and his grandnephew The Green Hornet have amazing partners of other races who are unjustly placed in a subservient sidekick type role. The Phantom is my man and he does right by the natives of Bengala, but he’s definitely a White Savior. And it’s a similar story for Tarzan. I don’t think Zorro has those kinds of connotations, but I really can’t find a definitive answer as to whether he was meant to be of Mexican or Spanish descent. Created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley for the serialized story The Curse of Capistrano, he was played by Douglas Fairbanks (who is not Mexican or Spanish) less than a year later in THE MARK OF ZORRO, inspiring the author to send him on more adventures. Whatever Zorro’s background, I support his quest “to avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians, to aid the oppressed.” People shame Zorro-inspired Bruce Wayne for being a rich dude super hero, but I think we should be asking this of more of our rich dudes. It’s good to give back.

It didn’t occur to me at first that MASK OF ZORRO might get alot of shit for the nationalities of its cast if it came out now. Hopkins and Zeta-Jones are both Welsh, with the former playing maybe-Spanish and the latter playing at-least-half-Mexican. Banderas was hyped as the first Spanish actor to play Zorro in a Hollywood production, but his character is the fictional brother of an actual historical figure who was Mexican. I didn’t remember much complaint about that at the time (or any about Banderas playing Mexican in DESPERADO) but I discovered Peter Travers did mention it right at the beginning of his negative-for-other- reasons review. A Google search for “‘mask of zorro’ whitewashing” brings up contemporary criticisms of Zeta-Jones. She might’ve gotten away with it if she hadn’t played a Colombian drug kingpin in the 2017 Lifetime movie COCAINE GODMOTHER: THE GRISELDA BLANCO STORY.

Much like THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, the other part that I think might offend 2018 sensibilities was one I was slightly iffy about at the time – the flirtatious and arguably rapey fencing match in which Zorro 2.0 slashes off Elena’s top. In the end it’s clear that she’s the one to kiss him and that her “I might scream” double-entendre was intentional, but up until then it’s definitely playing off of that shitty old idea that a hot guy forcing himself on an unwilling woman is sexy.

I would argue that the MASK OF ZORRO poster, with a black silhouette on red, evolved out of the iconographic BATMAN and DICK TRACY posters, as discussed in previous summer retrospectives. But they were smart enough to know that the same kind of merchandising onslaught wouldn’t work in ’98, or with Zorro. Playmates Toys did have a line of Zorro action figures, but not specific to the movie. It included such Zorros as Classic Zorro, Chain Mail Zorro, Barbed Wire Zorro and Cold Steel Zorro (“With Fire-Forged Daggers”) to oppose such villains as Evil Machete and Evil Ramon (who reminds me of STREET FIGHTER‘s M. Bison). I do think that the shirtless Don Diego Zorro figure looks like it could be a buffed up cartoon caricature of Banderas.

There was a four issue comic book adaptation of the movie, published by Image Comics (home of SPAWN), as well as a novelization by James Luceno, whose other licensed property novels include a Young Indiana Jones Chronicle, 21 Robotechs, around 15 Star Warses, and (fittingly) the 1994 movie of THE SHADOW.

Even twenty years ago it was kind of a tall order to ask the world to treat a Zorro adventure as a big event movie. But Campbell and friends mounted an irresistible argument. In a summer where certain others were insulting audiences with cynical, stupid repackagings of old shit reborn as instantly-dated modern crap, Campbell and friends just went for a more timeless approach of straight ahead action, romance, humor and heroic archetypes. If you like that shit, this is worth rewatching. (If you don’t, that’s kind of weird, isn’t it?)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 at 11:27 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “The Mask of Zorro”

  1. something that always struck me about this movie, now that you mention the nationalities of the actors, is that there’s a peculiar thing about the accents used by the Spanish and Mexican characters — the Spaniards (Montrero, de la Vega) have English accents, while the Mexicans all have Spanish accents. It kind of — to me — subtly emphasizes an ethnic distinction between colonizing elitists and “real” Mexicans, and so Anthony Hopkins passing the mask of Zorro on to Antonio Banderas ends up being like, the white savior giving the job over to the person it really belongs to.

  2. I LOVED this movie when it came out. I haven’t seen it in years and have been afraid it wouldn’t hold up, but it sounds like it does. I’ll have to check it out again.

    I loved the Bugs Bunny comparison. I never realized how these action/adventure movies have some wacky hijinks that could’ve come straight from Bugs.

  3. Nice review, sir! I had forgotten Rodriguez was supposed to do this. Thanks for showing his influence that perhaps peaked through.

    I wanna throw some Campbell love to No Escape and The Foreigner, both lean flicks that are far better than their descriptions would lead one to believe, thanks to Campbell’s prowess.

  4. Don’t have much to say about the film but holy shit Vern, you would love this story(quoted from a Kirkus review)

    “Kim Newman’s ‘Out of the Night, when the Full Moon is Bright’ about two movie-mad East LA cops in a prowl car, escorting a black Brit screenwriter about for research, who come upon a Spanish-styled St. Valentine’s Day massacre of teenage zonkbrains–a scene topped by higher and higher concept horror shows that paint an LA zonked far past detox, full of Death Squads and Disappeareds, where Zorro still lives as a vengeful werewolf chewing up cops.”

    Yeah, werewolf Zorro in future L.A. battling an oppressive government. That makes it sound all pulpy but it’s actually played totally straight.

  5. If I remember right, the hiding-in-the-confessional bit is actually taken directly from The Curse of Capistrano. It’s a long time since I read it though.

    Truth be told, it’s somehow not very good, despite giving the world Zorro, an objectively awesome character.

  6. ZORRO really is one of the great movie-movies of the 1990s that no one mentions anymore. Let’s bring it back!

    I’d never considered how much the first POTC is indebted to MASK OF ZORRO, but I think you’re right: the first POTC is definitely chasing the tone/feel of MASK OF ZORRO, and maybe that’s why it’s the only over-all well-made movie in the whole POTC franchise.

    Anyway, I wish the sequel was better–we could have had a nice franchise here–but instead LEGEND OF ZORRO came out 7 years later and felt like a professional obligation for everyone involved. I can’t help but wish they’d struck twice while the iron was hot.

  7. Rodriguez storyboards would explain why the sequel couldn’t recapture the thrills without him. Sequel also had an Orci/Kurtzman script.

    I agree bombastic flaming Zs should exist.

  8. Given his track record I’m not surprised Martin Campbell was the man to pull this off. He single handedly saved the Bond franchise twice, made Ray Liotta an action hero and got a more than decent acting role out of Jackie Chan. And let’s not forget the erotic masterpiece ESKIMO NELL! GREEN LANTERN on the other hand…

  9. I remember enjoying this the summer it came out and liking it a few years later. Sounds like I should revisit soon.

  10. I’ve read the original book and seen a couple of the Fairbanks movies. Zorro was definitely of Spanish descent in those; it’s a Scarlet Pimpernel-inspired deal where his public life as a languid aristocrat conceals his secret work as a dashing swashbuckler.

    I enjoyed the hell out of this when it came out, but haven’t seen it since. I ought to give it a rewatch.

  11. The New World TV Series was great as well.

  12. PROGRAMMING NOTE: I pride myself on posting four reviews a week, but last week I only did three, and I’ll be doing the same this week. I was staying about two weeks ahead on these ’98 reviews for most of the summer but I’ve gotten swamped in an overwhelming side gig and now I don’t have any back log at all. I want to continue with the same level of detail and care for the last leg of the series, so please bear with me. I hope to be back to my normal schedule ASAP and soon after will also be unveiling the first Patreon exclusive.

    Thank you for your patience and please resume talking about Zorro because I love Zorro and you should too.

  13. I don’t mind late reviews if that means the Summer of 98 series therefore goes a bit longer.

    Felix: I remember watching that show on Saturday mornings. Starring Duncan Regehr, who appeared on one of the worst STAR TREK TNG episodes ever (as a ghost who fucks Dr Crusher) and James Hertzler, who later became a DS9 semi-regular (as J.G. Hertzler), playing Klingon General Martok. Also Andre The Giant (Not on Star Trek) was in one episode. I don’t know how popular it was in the US, but maybe it’s one of the reasons why this movie still had an audience. Who knows if kids these days even know who Zorro is?

    BTW, what happened to the “post-apocalyptic Zorro movie”, that was announced a few years ago? I thought that was a great idea!

  14. One of the best versions of Zorro is the 1975 film with Alain Delon. It’s made like a spaghetti western and features the French star at the top of his physical game.

  15. grimgrinningchris

    August 9th, 2018 at 7:21 am

    This really is a great movie. And a near back to back rewatch of it recently along with Chicago reminded me how hot CZJ really is. Someone I don’t think about much normally for whatever reason… but man, what a woman.

    I’m curious how many of the gags were really Rodriguezes and how many were actually in Elliot and Rossio’s script though. Because as rightly pointed out, there is a lot of very similar stuff in the POTC movies. Either way it obviously WAS the lack of either them or Rodriguez doing development that caused the sequel to pale in comparison (though I still like LEGEND very much… it just isn’t the stone cold classic that MASK was)

    In regards to something else you mentioned… It is ridiculous to say that there is nothing offensive in SONG OF THE SOUTH. It is also ridiculous say that it is blatantly racist. The term I use most when discussing it (which is actually pretty fucking often) is racially insensitive. There is no malice or ill will or presentation of superiority (the mother, yes… but she’s shown as a near villain for forbidding Johnny to hang with Uncle Remus) present in the movie- but despite Walt going to great pains to make sure that the movie WASN’T seen as racist- it is really tone deaf in regards to what sorts of situations and stereotypes it thought it could present innocently. Despite best intentions, it was just a bad idea top to bottom- to think those stories could be presented in a Disney movie in a (mostly) lighthearted manner.
    That said, I think Disney keeping it buried only strengthens its reputation as this horrible, racist thing. I may have told this before but getting off of Splash Mountain a couple years back, I overheard some millenials discussing the ride. “Have you ever seen the movie that was based on? It’s the most racist thing ever! Hahaha!” Well, no… no it isn’t… and chances are that YOU’VE never seen it, giggling 20-something guy.
    But that is its reputation and that continues to grow, the longer it stays unreleased officially (in the States, at least).
    Was it made with good intentions? Yes. Is it a beautiful and fascinating piece of art and film? Yes. Was it just an awful idea to have even attempted? Yes. Should it be released? Yes… If I can get BIRTH OF A NATION at Best Buy, I should be able to own a real, remastered version of SoTS and not just a shitty bootleg import.

    Back to Zeta-Jones… Funny enough that this review and a mention of this style of movies and her appearance in another one previous to this would come now.
    Just yesterday, I received my replacement PHANTOM skull ring. Now, they make really fancy, expensive collectors versions of these, but back when the movie was released, they had a cheaper version as giveaways at the preview and opening night screenings. Now, I say cheap, but this thing was sturdy as fuck, some super weighty metal of some kind… and I wore mine without a trace of irony for YEARS. But at some point between multiple moves lost it. A friend curates the prop and costume collection of some super wealthy local restaurateurs and mentioned that they’d recently gotten ahold of one of the rings used in the actual movie and that reminded me of mine and I decided I needed another one. So long story short (too late) I found one on Ebay still sealed and with shipping for only $5 and it just came yesterday. So yeah, score. And long live 27 year old CZJ.

  16. Not much to add, except I loved this movie when it came out. Banderas, Zeta-Jones, Hopkins, Zorro…c’mon, that’s a no-brainer. I should watch this one again.

    Dont’ think I ever saw part 2 and think the response was more tepid, so I figured it was worth ignoring.

  17. Yeah, wasn’t Gael Garcia Bernal going to do a Zorro movie?

    Vern, these are great and worth waiting for. Glad you have a big gig too. Can’t wait to hear more.

  18. Anybody else read the Django/Zorro comic book that Tarantino wrote a few years back? Not as amazing as that sounds, but I love it!

  19. I liked it as well.

  20. Though it was certainly a hit, I would say the impact was greater than the money it made would imply, like DICK TRACY. It’s pretty surprising to re(discover) that this made less than ENEMY OF THE STATE and (as much as I love it) LETHAL WEAPON 4. It does seem there was a ceiling to these throwbacks after INDIANA JONES*, but this reached that ceiling and made itself be known. And it led to “The Poke of Zorro”!

    grimgrinningchris- I wasn’t brave enough to wade into the SONG OF THE SOUTH debate, but I got your back there bro. Not sure if this says good things about the UK, but it was released on VHS here a couple of times, and was shown on one of our four main channels as a daytime, school holidays, family viewing film as recently as 2006.

    *Possible exception; ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, but I would argue that was so conscious in its modernised 90s approach that it doesn’t really qualify.

  21. I couldn’t help but recognize a kindred spirit in Vern’s almost embarrassed, “….I love these modern (like, 1990s or later)….”

    I have a daughter who would look at something like this movie the way I looked at movies from the ’50s — you know, stone age. Thankfully I came a long enough way where I learned to appreciate movies from before my time, and hopefully my kids will do the same.

    The point is, in a lot of ways I still think of the 1990s as practically yesterday, but damn, this movie came out a long long time ago, didn’t it? And sadly I was already a drinking age adult by then. Which means I’m damned old.

    Christ, what was I talking about again?

  22. BTW, the scene where Hopkins teaches Banderas about setting priorities (“He is not in your circle” or something like that) should really used as an internet meme for “You can pick your online fights”. It’s a nice method to reduce stress these days.

  23. When is Netflix gonna pay some nostalgia-steeped siblings to revive this genre in a television series?

  24. I hate how literal minded people are with racial casting these days, it just depends, ya know? GHOST IN THE SHELL would have been more interesting with an Asian actress (but it still wouldn’t have saved the movie) but Zeta Jones and Hopkins can play Spanish characters, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

    There’s an absolutist streak going around in general in modern culture that I hate, no compromise, no middle ground, a “you’re either with us or against us” attitude, it’s a dangerous standard that has been set, if you think you can go through life without ever compromising or agreeing to disagree you’re only going to foster endless conflict.

    Anyway, @Adam: Kim Newman is basically my favorite author, I can’t recommend his Anno Dracula series enough.

  25. Oh my god guys I’m 20 mins in and you HAVE to see this movie Traxx starring Shadoe Stevens. It’s a goofy parody of action movies and it’s pretty funny. I can’t believe I’ve never heard about this movie until now.

  26. @Griff, oh yeah, I’ve read all the Anno series and it is tops. There’s too much good stuff in there to list but the reveal of Dracula at the end of the first one is awesome, vampire bat men with machine guns harnessed to them fighting air battles in WW1 is certainly memorable, and James Bond the vampire speaks for itself. Read “Out of the Night…” if you haven’t already. “Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue” was my first Newman and still one of my favorites but “Chill Clutch of the Unseen” is a good one too. Oh shit, and his post-apocalyptic Elvis vs. eldritch horrors novel “Comeback Tour” as Jack Yeovil is amazing.

    Sorry, Zorro something something Batman watched it just before his parents were yadda yadda and really tired today.

  27. Cool, have you even read the new Anno Dracula novel that just came out last year?

    Titan books has been republishing his work in the US (and maybe also the UK, not sure) and one of which was a short story collection where I read “Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue” and “Chill Clutch of the Unseen”, I haven’t read “Out of the Night…” yet however.

    I can’t recommend him enough even beyond Anno Dracula, he has an insanely good eye for world building that is catnip to me.

    And even if you don’t care about vampires the Anno Dracula series is still worth reading, it’s a very clever take on the vampire genre.

  28. So glad to hear this one holds up. Makes me hope that one day you’ll get around to reviewing some of the classic swashbucklers – CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE SEA HAWK, SCARAMOUCHE, PRISONER OF ZENDA, THE FLAME & THE ARROW, the Richard Lester MUSKTEERS movies, the Tyrone Power ZORRO. And the Douglas Fairbanks silent films – he really was the first action hero.

    Also the Kevin Reynolds COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO from 2002, which is just as cool and exciting as Campbell’s ZORRO. Very much worth revisiting.

    Would have loved to see Hayek in this! Not because I necessarily agree that Zeta-Jones was white-washing, although it’s a fair point. Never realized Banderas was the first Hispanic actor to play Zorro, but it definitely makes me better appreciate the movie.

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