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THE LEGEND OF ZORRO

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Martin Campbell's sequel to 1995's The Mask of Zorro, which also starred Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, catches up with that masked nobleman and avenger of the poor. Here, the heroics of Zorro are set amid the ill-defined politics of California statehood, before being ramped into utter ridiculousness by a Scooby Doo-type plot involving killer soap. Toss in the Z family -- the missus (Zeta-Jones) engages in not-at-all convincing ass-kicking (pardon my corset), and Junior eagerly apes the disguised Zorro (cue anachronistic absentee father subplot) -- and you can hear the test-marketed storylines clanking together as surely as two furious swords. Banderas works hard as Zorro -- he has the light touch needed, and he actually looks good in a puffy shirt -- but the film is stuffed with clutter, and at 130 minutes, grows tedious. Perhaps its worse sin is that it only delivers one clever bit of exciting swordplay -- and that's in the first five minutes. (AH)

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