An anomaly in the late '90s, the Mask of Zorro is a well-crafted, full-blooded adventure film, reminiscent of the Errol Flynn swashbucklers of Hollywood's golden age, with a tinge of contemporary irony. Antonio Banderas is ideally cast as the urchin who assumes the mask of the dashing Zorro from Don Diego de la Vega, who is brilliantly played by the protean Anthony Hopkins. Smoldering newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones is more than a match for Banderas, as Elena, the beautiful, long-lost daughter of Don Diego. Set in the burgeoning California of 1821, the script artfully counterpoints action with character development, as the old-fashioned melodrama touches on themes of honor, betrayal, and revenge. Yet the film infuses them with humor and romance, most memorably in a scene in which the new Zorro "undresses" Elena by slashing her clothing to shreds. The film's considerable 100-million-dollar plus box-office success would launch the career of Zeta-Jones.
by Michael Costello review