It's set ten years after the previous film, with California in the process of voting to join the Union. Cue many polemics about freedom, justice, and how wonderful it is to be American.
All is not well in the De la Vega household, however. Alejandro won't hang up the mask as Elena wishes, and spents too much time away from his family. Alas, the baby from the first film has grown into Joaquin, who dislikes his meek father, worships the folk hero Zorro, and keeps getting into scrapes in between (apparently) his gymnastics lessons...
A good point here is that Alejandro does appear to be enjoying the adulation of the crowd too much, but alas we quickly move into squabble territory, where Mysterious Strangers convince Elena to separate from Alejandro, and soon she's appearing on the much classier arm of sophisticated Frenchman Rufus Sewell. Unsurprisingly, he turns out to be not entirely on the up-and-up.
So, what's good? Well, Banderas still has his usual style, and not bad comic timing, even if some of the jokes are way overdone. The set pieces are massively silly, so if you go in expecting Blade-type style-over-efficiency battles, you won't be disappointed. Sewell's probably never done a bad performance in his life. Zeta-Jones is glorious to look at, and gets the odd bit of fun.
What's bad? Well, the plot, for one thing. The first Zorro had a much more intelligent plot: slavery, fraud, and bare-faced cheek. This one is about ideology, and that makes for a bad story to begin with, but then it's a ridiculously complicated plot, too.
Then there's the kid. Better than the one in The Mummy Returns, but evidently not to be taken seriously as a genuine character. Which makes the supposedly-strained father-son relationship difficult to care about.
There's a father-confessor character whose accent swings merrily across the continents with every new phrase.
And there's the cringing "comedy" of the estranged couple. I'm sorry, but a decade of marriage should have meant more communication between these two. Jolie and Pitt in Mr and Mrs Smith were a more credible couple than these two. Better screenwriting could have fixed this, but nope. Maybe it won't bother so many people, but I really can't stand "comedy of embarrassment", nor am I particularly keen on the "hero is a stubborn arse" scenes. At least we get most of it out of the way in the first third.
Don't get me wrong. This can still be an enjoyable film. Certainly, I laughed a lot - although a lot of that was because I (like the rest of us) was deeply amused by siggav corpsing every five minutes. I just wish the comedy was hung on something better. I wanted a Real Story, rather than The American Dream.
Oh, and exactly why is Alejandro now called de la Vega? I'd have thought it was the other way around...
A closing remark, which happens to be on the closing. It's not exactly a spoiler to say that this movie ends with loving wife and son watching hero father ride away to Do Good Yet Again - just like Spider-Man 2 finishes, for example. But I kept thinking.... If this had been written by Whedon, we'd have gotten some dialogue to go with it.
Joquin: He's a hero.
Elena: Yes, he is.
Joaquin: But... he's a bit of a show-off too, isn't he?
Elena: (sigh) I'm afraid he is.