By George Rose
May 19, 2009
There's something about rebooting a franchise that gets movie-goers salivating, isn't there? Just after director Martin Campbell made James Bond interesting again with Goldeneye (and again over ten years later with the impeccable Casino Royale re-launch), Sony snatched him up and brought Zorro back to life. Instead of remaking a classic they gave it a more modern spin, casting Anthony Hopkins as the past-his-prime older Zorro who must train and equip a new, younger Zorro (Antonio Banderas) to carry on his legacy. Rather than erase Zorro's history for the new generations, they pay homage to it while making Zorro more than just a masked face. Zorro isn't about what one person did with cut-up black cloth and a fedora. It's about what people can do when they unite and allow morality to be their compass as they charge into action and fight for equality. Hopkins teaches this to Banderas and the audience, both of whom end the film more grateful than when they entered.
Did I mention the film also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones in one of her first Hollywood films? She is stunning, sexy and a more-than-compatible counterpart for Banderas. She kicks just as much butt and runs from just as many explosions as the two Zorros she fights beside, and I don't think she has looked so good ever since. The woman is timeless but never radiated more than when she was playing Elena. Unfortunately the sequel came seven years too late. Martin Campbell may have struck gold twice with Bond, but lost his shine with The Legend of Zorro. When a sequel waits that long and throws a kid into the works in desperation for a family audience, you know there's trouble. Though another attempt at bringing Zorro back may take another ten or 20 years, we still have The Mask of Zorro to help keep the dream alive and thank for being among the first and better re-launches in the last decade.
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
I had middle-child syndrome pretty badly when I was growing up. As the second of three sons (and a baby daughter to boot) I was the most moody of the four children in the family. When the other boys were playing soccer and my sister was playing with Barbies, I was in the basement watching movies. The first three VHS tapes I bought with my own allowance were Scream, Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. For some reason I took to horror the way vampires take to Bella Swan. We had the Disney collection and a bunch of mega-blockbusters, but if there was a horror movie in our house it belonged to me.
They weren't happy about it, but one day my parents took me and my younger brother to see House on Haunted Hill, a remake (not a re-launch) of the Vincent Price classic. Only because it was a remake of a film they knew and because my birthday is on October 21st did they take me to see the film opening night on October 29, 1999. To them, it was glorified torture porn (which the Saw franchise would later capitalize on). To me, it was an all-star cast stuck in a haunted house blood-bath. What better way is there for a 14-year-old to spend their Halloween-esque birthday? There was usually the hayride birthday party but this year I got to spend my big day with Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, Famke Janssen, Geoffrey Rush, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan and the drop-dead gorgeous Bridgette Wilson (before she tagged on the -Sampras). While I was stuck in the theatre, my actor friends were stuck in a death trap as they fought their way through hordes of insane asylum ghosts and booby traps in an effort to win $1 million each. Only a few of them and I made it out alive, while the rest (including my parents) regretted all 90 mintues.