In 1995, Director Martin Campbell made James Bond relevant again with the superb first entry in the Brosnan OO7 era, "GoldenEye".
Three years later, he worked the same miracles to resurrect a long absent hero of the people with THE MASK OF ZORRO.
The film opens with Zorro (a dashing and game Anthony Hopkins) saving the day and rescuing folks from the evil Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), only to be captured and imprisoned for twenty years.
The film moves forward to meet Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) a petty thief that finds himself rescued from trouble and chosen by the original Zorro to become a new, younger hero to wear the mask.
The scenes between Hopkins and Banderas are a lot of fun, with Hopkins oozing class, style and talent as he slowly turns Banderas into a respectable hero.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is excellent as Elena, adopted by the evil Don Montero when he stole her from Hopkins and now grown into a beautiful and spirited young woman that captures the new Zorro's eye.
Campbell and his screenwriters weave an exciting tale of land grabs and politics against the acquisition of California. It's a colorful backdrop for our new Zorro to emerge as a voice for the people, while the older Zorro takes a slower and more careful approach to his revenge that's been simmering for 20 years.
Matt Letscher plays a twisted army captain like the perfect B-movie villain and serves up a formidable foe to our Zorros.
Banderas is excellent. Starting as a dirt-covered, lousy thief and transforming into our hero, he's has never been better, making you cheer for him along the way.
Tamara and I got to see Banderas on Broadway as the lead in the musical "Nine" and the guy seriously had more stage presence that almost anyone we have ever seen live.
He holds the screen here the same way, taking us along for non-stop action, romance and fun.
Campbell brings the same fast moving, explosive action style he did to Bond and crafts a modern classic.
Hopkins is one of the all-time best as well and he is having a great time. It's contagious.
The music score is almost non-stop for the whole 136 minutes and it's one of the late James Horner's best.
The Mask of Zorro has nothing to hide. It's the perfect popcorn movie and a blast to revisit. It gets an A.
Followed in 2005 by the sequel "The Legend of Zorro" with Banderas and Zeta-Jones returning for more.