Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Puss in Boots close up

“Fear me, if you dare!” It’s a strange catchphrase but it is Puss in Boots’s and goes some way towards explaining his appeal – dangerous and ridiculous at the same time, as befits a vainglorious furball swashbuckler who’s Zorro in miniature, a legend in his own eyes more than anyone else’s, but a legend all the same. In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish two-time Zorro and four-time Puss Antonio Banderas returns to the role and remains a good part of the appeal of this character spun off from the Shrek franchise. Puss debuted in Shrek 2, returned in Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After, then got his own show in 2011’s … Read more

Femme Fatale

Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos face to face in a publicity shot

Brian De Palma’s films are a treat for people who watch a lot of movies, and Femme Fatale is no exception. Starting with an excerpt from Double Indemnity – the bit where Barbara Stanwyck is telling Fred MacMurray that she’s “rotten to the heart” – it then replays a similar scenario, with a tweak, in the modern (2002) era, with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (as she was at the time) in the “femme fatale” role and Antonio Banderas as the guy trying to hang on to his testicles. Romijn-Stamos plays a very bad woman indeed, and in typically playful, relentlessly referential De Palma style the action starts at the Cannes film festival where her badass Laure is … Read more

The Enforcer

Antonio Banderas as Cuda

The Enforcer. Not Clint Eastwood, or Jet Li or even Humphrey Bogart (who starred in a mostly forgotten film of the same name in 1951). Instead it’s Antonio Banderas’s name over the title of this very familiar sounding movie, which has ambitions that go not much further than getting itself onto a screen near you. The “bad guy gets a conscience” plot falls into two halves. First we get to see what sort of a bad guy we’re dealing with – the strong arm of a Miami crime boss with a wretched personal life (wife hates him, daughter wishes he’d drop dead). Then the epiphany, as Cuda (short for Barracuda) gets involved with street … Read more

Spy Kids

Daryl Sabara, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega and Antonio Banderas in Spy Kids

Ever since he’d arrived in 1992 with his made-for-nothing El Mariachi, director Robert Rodriguez had been readying himself for Hollywood primetime. His 1996 grindhouse vampire comedy From Dusk till Dawn had allowed him to play with a big name cast (Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek and a new-to-movies George Clooney) and special effects, and boasted a script by Quentin Tarantino. Following on from that The Faculty gave him a sexy gang of newcomers (Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster), a smart script by Kevin Williamson and a bucket of attitude. Both films were, by Hollywood standards, fairly low rent. With Spy Kids he finally got what he wanted – lots of cash, nearly all … Read more

The 13th Warrior

Antonio Banderas

A real proper old-fashioned Sunday afternoon film – epic in intention, ludicrous in execution. Considered to be unwatchable when it was test-screened, it was partially recast, rescored and reshot – by Michael Crichton, writer of the original book, who took over from John McTiernan, his Die Hard and Predator experience counting, apparently, for nothing. Crichton’s intervention doesn’t save it. Perhaps nothing could. Perhaps it was jinxed by the presence of Omar Sharif, an adornment of so many terrible films of a similar sort in days of yore. Or by his Nineties successor, Antonio Banderas. It’s an adaptation of the Old English epic poem Beowulf and Banderas plays Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, a Muslim banished to the … Read more

Zorro: Who Is That Masked Man?

Tyrone Power as Zorro

The Mexicans like their heroes the way they like their tacos – with cheese. Enter Zorro. Cue mask, cape and ludicrous pencil moustache Next time you’re in London, try the Robin Hood Zorro restaurant in Hammersmith. This oddly conceived English/Mexican hybrid serves an equally odd drink called the Robin Hood Meets Zorro cocktail. A mouthful to order and a hell of a thing to drink, it contains tequila, gin and beer. The menu doesn’t say it’s served with a bucket, but it probably should be. What is it about Zorro that seems to bring out the naffness in … well, everything? It was not always thus. Dial back to the mists of the … Read more