Catherine Zeta-Jones is working on the small screen a bunch these days so it might be easy to forget that at one point she was among the biggest movie stars out there. She had a run in the late-90s and early-2000s that saw her in a number of big-budget films, some of which really crushed at the box office. And for a bit, she was part of a mini-franchise that adapted a classic story. One of those films just hit Netflix with The Legend of Zorro popping up on the streamer this week. It’s a chance to see Zeta-Jones and some other big names as part of this as well.
The Legend of Zorro is the sequel to the first film, The Mask of Zorro which came out in 1998. The second flick followed seven years later. It’s a continuation of the original story with Catherine Zeta-Jones reprising her role of Elena de la Vegas alongside Antonion Banderas as Don Alejandro de la Vega, more affectionally and simply known as the titular Zorro. The story picks up during the Civil War in 1850 with Banderas and Zeta-Jones’ characters having been married in the prior film. They now have a young son.
This is all around the time that California was set to become an official state in the United States which has rubbed a certain faction of folks the wrong way. During this time, it doesn’t take long for a bit of a rift to develop between Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Don Alejandro and Elena respectively. A series of unfortunate events leads to them getting a separation and Zorro is a bit down in the dumps because of it. But he’s Zorro after all and there’s some buckling that needs to be swashed. He gets the mask back on and gets to work on a major conspiracy to take down the Union army as well as stop the plan to make California a state. It’s all very silly but does retain some of the same style.
The Legend of Zorro united most of the major players from the first movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antoni Banderas of course reprising their parts. Martin Campbell was on again as a director too after helming the first one. And Star Trek fans would probably like to know that the script for this sequel was penned in part by Alex Kurtzman. For better or worse, he’s gone off to head up the franchise for Paramount+ right now. Other notables in the cast include Rufus Sewell who plays the primary antagonist Count Armand. The late Julio Oscar Mechoso plays Father Felipe.
Unfortunately for Catherine Zeta-Jones and company, The Legend of Zorro didn’t reach the same heights as its predecessor. The first movie earned over $250 million at the box office and was solid with critics as well, scoring 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and 63 on Metacritic. The movie flowed well and the leads were able to embody all the silliness and style you would want from this adaptation. But the sequel missed the mark some. On its $65 million budget, it took back in only $142 million which is seen as something of a disappointment with a movie this size. And critics weren’t kind either. It’s sitting at just 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For Catherine Zeta-Jones, this wasn’t the only major movie she starred in around this time. She had been in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic as well as the star-studded hit Chicago as well. Plus eventually, she was the newest addition to the George Clooney and Brad Pitt’s crew in Ocean’s Twelve. But Legend of Zorro marked something of a shift for the actress and the bigger budget films came a little fewer and further between after that.
And in recent years, Catherine Zeta-Jones has been taking some small-screen roles. She had a recurring part on Fox’s Prodigal Son though that series was canceled. She also starred in the Facebook Watch series Queen America about the cutthroat world of beauty pageants. Next up for Catherine Zeta-Jones is Wednesday, the Netflix series that will follow Wednesday Addams as she enters high school. Zeta-Jones will play the iconic Morticia Addams. That series is set to hit the stream sometime next year.