Get ready for adventure, because everyone’s favorite masked crusader is back with an exhilarating new series on Amazon Prime. This latest telling taps into the enduring appeal of Johnston McCulley’s classic Zorro character while also striving to put a fresh spin on the swashbuckling hero for modern audiences.
We’re transported to 19th century colonial California, where young nobleman Diego de la Vega returns home seeking vengeance for his father’s murder. By night, Diego secretly takes on the mantle of Zorro, using his dashing alter ego to fight corruption and stand up for the oppressed. Along the way, he crosses paths with fierce female warriors, corrupt officials, and mysterious secret societies.
Leading man Miguel Bernardeau brings oodles of charisma to the role, though fans may feel the void left by Antonio Banderas’ fiery big-screen portrayals. Visually, the show pops with colorful costumes and scenery steeped in Spanish-influenced Old West atmosphere. The direction aims for slick, fast-paced fun in the classic pulp tradition, though overindulges in trendy slo-mo effects during the action scenes.
While this latest Zorro doesn’t quite match the refinement of its titular hero’s swordplay, it still promises a rollicking good time for folks seeking old-school heroics with a modern edge. The storytelling may be uneven, but Bernardeau’s star-power and the enduring appeal of the franchise should win over both newcomers and longtime fans.
Vivid Trip Back in Time
One of the chief delights of this latest Zorro adaptation is how gloriously it brings 19th century California to life. From the colorful costumes to the sun-dappled backdrops, the show is visual eye candy that fully immerses us in the story’s period setting.
We’re treated to plenty of lavishly designed Spanish colonial architecture, with hacienda courtyards and mission churches that evoke the region’s distinctive style. The California scrublands and desert vistas provide picturesque backdrops for horse chases and sword fights, while also emphasizing the stark contrasts between the wealthy ranchers and impoverished peasants that Zorro champions.
The direction aims for a slick, modern sheen in the editing and camerawork, though can get carried away with trendy slo-mo effects during action scenes. These may look cool at first, but their overuse renders the swordplay and stunts less comprehensible. A lighter touch would’ve better served both the pulpy, rollicking tone and the spatial dynamics that make swashbuckling exciting to watch.
Where the style absolutely soars is in the costumes, which offer deluxe Old West eye candy. Diego’s embroidered charro jackets paired with Zorro’s signature black mask and cape cut dashing figures. The Native American and Chinese characters also sport intricate cultural garb, highlighting the region’s diversity.
If the fight editing falters at points, other directorial choices shine. Overhead shots of Zorro cantering across the moonlit landscapes capture the romanticism that makes his legend endure. Flickering fire and torchlight bathe nighttime showdowns in dangerous atmosphere. All told, this Zorro overflows with sensational frontier imagery that sparks the imagination.
Winning Lead Performance
Any Zorro adaptation lives and dies on having a compelling actor beneath the iconic black mask. Thankfully, this latest iteration scores a touché with Miguel Bernardeau’s crowd-pleasing take on the swashbuckling hero.
Bringing matinee idol charm and brooding intensity in equal measure, Bernardeau cuts a dashing figure as nobleman-turned-avenger Diego de la Vega. He handles the action with athletic grace and brings a modern edge to the character with flashes of moral conflict. If he lacks the raw, devilish magnetism of Antonio Banderas’ interpretations, Bernardeau nonetheless makes the role his own. He’s aided by a script that adds emotional depth in the form of a long-lost love and a new mystical mentor.
The supporting cast provides colorful auxiliary characters, though Spanish actor Paco Tous seems underserved as Diego’s caretaker Bernardo. Faring better are two fierce female foils that give the show a modern spin: Renata Natni as Diego’s headstrong ex-flame Lolita, and Dalia Xiuhcoatl as Native warrior Nah-Lin. Both bring grit and attitude to the dated damsel stereotypes of previous eras.
If Banderas’ absence leaves big boots to fill, the cast otherwise checks the necessary boxes. Bernardeau’s matinee-ready charm, the empowered female characters, and a host of eccentric villains and allies should win viewers over. This crew may lack the refinement of Zorro’s flawless swordplay, but their heart and hustle carry the day.
A Hero for the Ages
Like any enduring icon, Zorro taps into themes that resonate across generations. This latest chapter celebrates the character’s legacy of championing the oppressed while slipping in modern updates for today’s socially conscious viewers.
At its core, the show fulfills Zorro’s classic mission of fighting injustice and standing up for the poor against corrupt authorities. Mexico’s colonial history provides no shortage of despots for our hero to antagonize with his signature “Z” flourish. Yet the straightforward heroics are deepened with commentary on racial oppression and resistance.
The show celebrates the ethnic diversity of frontier California through vivid depictions of indigenous, Latino, and Asian communities. A Native tribe plays a pivotal role in mythologizing Zorro as a symbol spanning cultures. We also follow fierce freedom fighter Nah-Lin, who combats patriarchal traditions denying her destiny as the heir apparent.
Elsewhere, Zorro’s former love Lolita bristles at the strict gender roles of her society. Both women add a modern sheen of female empowerment to the franchise.
If the plot strains at times to juggle these varied ingredients, its heart is in the right place. Kids will thrill to the two-fisted action while parents may appreciate the emphasis on tolerance and social justice. Nearly a century since his creation, Zorro continues to adapt his brand of do-goodery for the issues of the day.
Tale of Two Zorros
In reviving Zorro for the peak-TV era, the showrunners set out to blend old-school thrills with darker, more mature themes. The result is an uneven mashup that struggles to reconcile its split tones and pacing.
For much of its runtime, the plot captures the brisk, light-hearted spirit of 1940s serial adventures. Sneering villains cackle on every street corner as Diego juggles his dual identities across swashbuckling showdowns and serendipitous romantic run-ins. The orchestral score and sunny LA landscapes heighten the throwback atmosphere.
Yet elsewhere the violence turns grim and distressing, with cruel punishments and bloody combat scenes more suited to modern cable antiheroes. Creative editing renders the action disorienting at times, especially compared to vintage Zorro’s elegant, spatial swordfights.
These tonal mismatches extend to the choreography, with otherwise kinetic battles bogging down in glitzy slo-mo theatrics. As with the Everest-sized stakes, it feels the show bending over backwards to appear mature and prestigious.
What does work is the emotional drama, with Diego’s ghosts returning to haunt him. His tangled dynamic with ex-fiancé Lolita and her current corrupt beau drives much of the serial-style intrigue. Their complicated romance lends the swashbuckling an affecting human dimension that transcends eras.
Uneven and strained it may be, but this Zorro ultimately delivers rollicking escapism with some modern complexity sprinkled in for good measure. It falls just shy of predecessor’s elegant fusion of action, drama, and irony, but still carries an enduring charm.
Bold Leap Falls Just Short
For all its uneven execution, this latest Zorro adaptation deserves credit for ambitiously bridging the vintage swashbuckler genre with modern sensibilities. If it never fully balances its disparate ingredients, the end result still captures the spirit of the enduring franchise.
Much works in its favor, from the sensuous Spanish colonial atmospherics to a game lead performance from Miguel Bernardeau. The incorporation of forward-thinking themes and empowered female perspectives also brings welcome freshness without betraying the essence of the character.
Yet in its eagerness to reinvent, the show strains to incorporate one too many styles, from light-hearted throwback thrills to somber revisionist commentary on oppression. The directors match this tonal schizophrenia with flashy editing that often undermines Spatial action choreography in favor of dramatic slo-mo.
For all its uneven execution though, any chance to see Zorro ride again proves a welcome nostalgic romp. There’s ample room for improvement should subsequent seasons smooth out the pacing and polish the aesthetics. But with its game cast and core elements intact, this bolt-from-the-blue revival should readily charm franchise fans and newcomers alike. Where it falls short of greatness, it makes up for in heart and verve.
This Zorro doesn't claim the crown as the definitive adaptation, but nonetheless makes for a fun revival packed with visual razzle-dazzle and swashbuckling spirit. Uneven and rough around the edges it may be, but vibrant production design and Miguel Bernardeau's star-making turn should readily charm franchise fans hungry for nostalgic action.
- Miguel Bernardeau is dashing and charming as Diego/Zorro
- Lush production values/cinematography
- Nods to social justice themes
- Rollicking and uptempo in pace
- Empowered and fierce female characters
- Evokes throwback swashbuckling serials
- Mismatched tones and styles that don't fully cohere
- Disorienting quick-cut action editing
- Overuse of slow motion weakens swordfights
- Noticeable absence of Antonio Banderas
- Plot overstuffed with too many ingredients