First they land Zorro (Banderas) with a 10-year-old son, so he has all sorts of parenting issues to occupy him, no doubt courtesy of the film's father-fixated executive producer, Steven Spielberg. Then they have his well-upholstered wife (Zeta-Jones) leave him for a prissy French count (Rufus Sewell), an annoyingly illogical contrivance that succeeds only in snuffing out the sizzle between the two leads. And then, even more daftly, they introduce an ancient occult brotherhood that's armed with a weapon of mass destruction. The writers seem to be tossing in one idea after another in the hope that one of them will get the action going, whereas all they do is get in its way.
When Zorro does eventually start buckling his swash, his gratuitous circus acrobatics make Batman look arthritic, and it's nice to see Banderas back in the only Hollywood role to have exploited his buffoonish machismo. But the film's final gallop can't make up for all the cantering it does beforehand. It's Zorro with a capital Zzzzz.
Saw 2 (18)
The sequel to last year's deeply sadistic horror thriller is cleverer, slicker, bloodier, and, yes, even more deeply sadistic. Its villain is Jigsaw, a Nietzschean serial killer who locks his victims in booby-trapped rooms, but lets them escape if they complete the fiendish challenges he sets them. It's basically I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, except with more limb-severing. When you're outside, after the film, you can see light flooding through the plot holes, but in the dark of the cinema it seems as claustrophobic and cunningly engineered as one of Jigsaw's nightmarish contraptions.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (PG)
Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans were members of a student resistance group that distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in Munich during the Second World War. They were arrested, interrogated and executed, all within six days in February 1943, and this film is a sober reconstruction of that period, based on interrogation transcripts and interviews with people who knew the Scholls. It's a worthwhile account, but it's so stolidly factual that it resembles an educational TV docudrama, and by restricting itself to the siblings' final days it by-passes any exploration of how their activism developed. All we learn about Sophie (Julia Jentsch) is that she was composed and defiant until the end, and all we learn about her prosecutor is that he was a frothing fanatic. The only time the film switches from interesting history lesson to stimulating drama is when Scholl is being questioned by a Gestapo officer, a patriotic family man who is genuinely baffled by her refusal to support the Führer.
American indie movies about angst-ridden suburban teenagers aren't exactly a rare commodity. But if, after Donnie Darko and Imaginary Heroes, you can stomach another would-be Holden Caulfield, then meet Justin (Lou Pucci). Aged 17, he still sucks his thumb, and although he tries various remedies - hypnosis, Ritalin, marijuana - none of them does the trick. Plot-deficient as it may be, Thumbsucker does have its own trippy sensitivity: its nuanced, small-scale crises are enough to stop it falling back on the genre's customary murder and/or suicide attempts. It also offers understated yet deliciously funny cameos by Vince Vaughn, as a liberal teacher, and Keanu Reeves, parodying himself - or possibly just being himself - as a New Age orthodontist.Reuse content