E Z becomes Cheesy
There is no rule to how long there should be between sequels but generally those which come more than 3 years later struggle. They struggle to recreate the same atmosphere which made the previous movie so good and as such when 7 years after "The Mask of Zorro" we got "The Legend of Zorro" it unsurprisingly struggled. "The Mask of Zorro" whilst not a great movie managed to deliver atmosphere, it had a blend of comedy and action which was perfect and it also had a spark of sexual chemistry which added to the atmosphere. Sadly "The Legend of Zorro" doesn't get the balance right and fails to recreate that exciting and fun atmosphere, and as it struggles to recreate that atmosphere not only does it feel forced but it also feels bloated.
Having got married and had a son, things are not going smoothly for Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas - Evita) and Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones - Ocean's Twelve) as she is tired of him always heading off to answer the cries of help as Zorro. So much so that she ends up leaving him for Armand (Rufus Sewell) a French Count. But Alejandro has more concerns to deal with as he becomes aware of some thing mysterious going on in the desert and that Jacob McGivens (Nick Chinlund) is trying to take land from people. Somehow everything seems connected and not as it seems, so Alejandro must save the day whilst winning back Elena.
Now in fairness one thing which is right about "The Legend of Zorro" is that we have a different storyline and not just a rehash of the first movie. But then one thing it gets wrong is that what should be a simple storyline becomes over complicated by various subplots. It starts out quite well as Alejandro and Elena are having marital issues because he is always away answering the call for help and to add to the issues their son Joaquin thinks his dad doesn't care, unaware that his father is in fact his hero Zorro. This intro may not be that original but it is entertaining because it gives us tension between Alejandro and Elena and that tension is what makes them interesting as a couple.
But then we get what is the main part of the story which has Elena leaving him and seeming to be falling in love with Armand, a man who is not all he seems. We also get Jacob McGivens trying to force people to hand over their land plus there are two mysterious men who discover that Alejandro is Zorro. Now the storyline isn't really that complex but because every element of it is drawn out it makes it feel more complex than it is and also being drawn out makes it lose that smooth pacing. It basically becomes a slog where all you want is for things to move a bit quicker but nothing ever does.
But the poor pacing is not the only issue which spoils "The Legend of Zorro" as the balance of humour and action is also wrong. Watching Zorro put on his hat and whip his fingers along the rim is so forced it is cheesy and that is the thing much of the humour in this sequel instead of just being funny goes too far and becomes cheesy. A sword fight which sees Zorro and Elena fighting one man ends up with them both scoring their initials in the clothes, but seeing E Z ends up being cheesy. It almost gets to the point that it feels like it is parodying itself, forcing the humour when it is just trying to be amusing.
It is the same with the action because where first time around we had Zorro as a swashbuckler this time it goes over the top with action which is too unbelievable. There are numerous moments of action where it is basically trying too hard to deliver excitement but I will just mention a horse leaping on to a moving train, because it is such an unbelievable moment of escapism that you wonder whether it was thrown in out of desperation to be different. It is a shame as there are moments when the action is exciting and works but far too often it goes that one step too far and in trying to mix action and humour forces it.
But in many ways the thing which really lacks "The Legend of Zorro" is passion because first time around the chemistry between Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones set the screen on fire but now seems lacking. Maybe because the change in storyline which sees them having marital difficulties is the cause of this but when we watch Alejandro trying to win Elena back it feels, yes I am going to repeat myself, forced. It's just not there, those big kisses feel forced, the attempts to be sexy feel forced and even when Banderas and Zeta-Jones are not together what they deliver feels forced. But they are not alone as Nick Chinlund as Jacob McGivens and Rufus Sewell as Armand also deliver performances which feel forced. The one exception is young Adrian Alonso who plays Joaquin de la Vega because he delivers the cheekiness of a young boy and it is natural.
What all this boils down to is that whilst "The Legend of Zorro" is not a completely terrible sequel it is inferior to "The Mask of Zorro" and it is inferior because pretty much everything about it feels forced.