The Mask of Zorro is more "fun" than cerebral or literate, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas have a hell of a good time bouncing off each other, Hopkins even carrying off the swashbuckling pretty well despite his age. The strength of the film is in that it never tries to be more than it can realistically be, it's not high art, but doesn't aim for it, which is a nice change of pace after a lot of post-The Dark Knight entries in the superhero film canon. The plot is light and serves just enough to link the film from set-piece to set-piece, which is all it needs really, with plenty of fun one-liners and quippy dialogue to keep up the pace. I'm not personally a huge fan of Banderas as an actor, but this is the kind of role he was born to play, a charming goofball with fun lines to drawl his natural accent a bit thicker on and getting shown up by the legendary talent of Hopkins. Zeta-Jones also deserves some major kudos, her comic timing is brilliant, she should get more roles where she gets to make jokes.
This was never destined to be a great superhero film saga, but who cares? It works well as a stand-alone film or introduction to the broader Zorro mythos or even a history lesson on the origins of Batman. Zorro is a classic hero for a reason, he embodies the 'rich man turned vigilante for the people' archetype almost as well as Sir Percy, but is non-white and free of the complications that drag Batman's privilege and prejudices into the light. Zorro is the kind of hero that should be coming back in this Superhero Cinema Landscape built by Marvel Studios, with a Hispanic actor in the leading role and a new face of colonialism to fight; the resurrectionist. I'm sure that there's plenty that could be done with an enemy who needs to get Zorro out of the way to "make California great again". A solid film well worth another look.