A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Mask of Zorro is a 1998 action movie in which Anthony Hopkins plays the aging legendary swashbuckling hero. Unsurprisingly, there is quite a bit of sword fighting and swashbuckling. Some of the sword violence is comedic in the form of pratfalls and debonair one-liners. There is also fighting with guns, rifles, knives, and dynamite. A woman is shot and killed. Peasants are enslaved in a gold mine -- they are shown whipped, beaten, and kept in cages. One of the bad guys keeps a decapitated head in a glass container as well as a severed hand in a glass bowl. Zorro hits a large man in the head repeatedly with two cannonballs until he spits out his teeth and dies. During a sword fight, a woman's top is sliced off; her hair strategically covers her breasts. Brief male nudity, nonsexual: A group of men fighting Zorro end up tied up with their pants down, buttocks exposed. There is cigarette smoking and some drinking: One of the lead characters is shown drunk in a saloon mourning his brother's death. Wine and tequila drinking at social functions. "Damn" is heard.
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What's the story?
THE MASK OF ZORRO is built upon the development of the father-son relationship and engagingly explores the family dynamics that result. The story begins with Diego de la Vegas' (Anthony Hopkins) capture by Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), an evil American cavalry officer. Montero murders Zorro's wife and steals his infant child, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Twenty years later, the former Zorro seeks to train a younger replacement so that he may avenge the death of his wife and retrieve his now grown daughter. Zorro chooses Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) as his protégé. Together, they battle Montero with courage and bravery.
Is it any good?
The Mask of Zorro rises above the banal Hollywood action film due to the fine performances of Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas as the old and young Zorros. The overall plot is quite engaging and offers the traditional fun of watching heroes vanquish evil villains. However, if viewing a high-quality film with your child is what you are after, it's best to look elsewhere. The violence and gore may be too much for sensitive kids, as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role adults have in training their children as future citizens. As with most action movies, the ambiguous morality of revenge is the film's central concern. Is it right for both Zorros to devote their lives to violence to avenge the wrongful deaths of their loved ones? When does justice become vigilantism? What is the proper role of individuals in righting clear social wrongs that are depicted in the film?
Beneath the action of the movie is the subtext of economic injustice. How does the movie convey this economic injustice, and how does this play into Zorro's overall motivations?
Zorro was a book character first created in 1919. Since then he has appeared in books, films, and television. Why do you think Zorro has a timeless appeal?
For kids who love action and adventure
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