This isn't really a Zorro movie. Yes, Zorro is the main character, but all of the elements that we'd normally associate with a Zorro movie are absent. Like instead of being set in early 19th century Mexican California, we're in 1850, in American California. Guns and bombs abound, but Zorro is still there anachronistically swashbuckling with his sword. And there are absurd crimes against well-known history. We're up in Northern California (instead of Los Angeles), during the gold rush but with no visible sign of it. The Civil War is also going on, a decade before it started. We see the Spanish-speaking Californios excitedly voting to join the US as a state when in reality the US conquered them militarily, as part of the Mexican-American war. The plot seems to be a mashup of the Da Vinci Code and a James Bond movie. When the movie finally gets around to the plot, we learn that the bad guys are trying to prevent the US from challenging Europe by having the two sides of the Civil War destroy each other. (Which is pretty much what happened anyway, so this seems like a bizarre super-villain plan). And get this, the way they're going to have the two sides obliterate each other in a stalemate is by giving a superweapon to one of the sides. You know, so they can quickly end the war, and then use the superweapon to challenge Europe. The whole thing really is quite painful.
There were some good bits. Catherine Zeta-Jones is as gorgeous as ever. And I kind of liked the kid (hers and Zorro's son) with his proto-Zorro rebellious behavior. They start out like he's actually going to come into his own as a mini-Zorro, which would have been kind of cool, although somewhat preposterous. But the end up reverting him to being a child Zorro needs to protect, showing us what a family man he is. I'd rather have seen him take his place as a man.