The Mask of Zorro

Movie review by
Walter Metz, Common Sense Media
The Mask of Zorro Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Violent '90s action-adventure epic has some gore.
  • PG-13
  • 1998
  • 137 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film emphasizes the values of heroism in freeing the oppressed from the yoke of tyranny. However, the villains are amoral (see severed head and hands). Economic injustice is the subtext beneath the action; Zorro fights corrupt Spanish governors and wealthy landowners who enslave the peasants.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While on the whole a cartoonish legend, Zorro as shown in this movie fights economic injustice, somewhat akin to Robin Hood.


Unsurprisingly, there is quite a bit of sword fighting and swashbuckling. Some of the fighting is comical pratfall violence, some of it is straight-up violent. A bandito shoots himself in the chest to avoid getting shot by the authorities. A horse kicks a man to death. A woman is shot and killed. Peasants are shown enslaved while working a mine -- they are chained and whipped, and while they are put in cages, one of the antagonists lights dynamite with the intent to blow them up along with the El Dorado mine. One of the antagonists keeps a severed head in a container and a severed hand in a bowl. Character killed while pulled off a ledge by a cart. Fighting with rifles, shotguns, pistols, and knives.


A playful scene in which the younger Zorro's swashbuckling results in Elena's top falling off. He then kisses her, as she covers her bare breasts with his hat. Men left tied up with their pants down, buttocks exposed.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the lead characters gets severely drunk in a saloon. Wine and tequila drinking at social affairs, dinners, secret meetings. Cigarette smoking.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

Caution! Very Gory

The head being severed is off screen but latter in the film you are shown a close up of the head and hand of the hero's brother in jars! Both the nemesis... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byGoodSSJ May 6, 2011

Some Of The Action Can Be Iffy For Ages 2+

A Lot Of Violence But Its Still A Super Awesome Movie About A Old Hero Letting Another Person Become The New Hero
Teen, 17 years old Written byAGClyde May 24, 2021

Romantic Spanish Take on Historic Event

I thought this movie was a piece of art. The cinematography was excellent, the characters were intriguing, the plot was driving, and the story was fun! When I t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byR8 mcu fan May 17, 2021

Kinda good kinda bad

This movie is great but there is two parts that were disturbing to me 1 there was one part where someone’s decapitated head was shown off and it was bloody 2 th... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

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