Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Movie Review: Robin Hood - The Medieval Che Guevara

Watched Robin Hood (2010) early last week, must say I was rather excitable. Huge fan of the folklore that is Robin Hood. The Ridley Scott - Russell Crowe combination tends to be a winning one (wtf was A Good Year (2006)?), and it has to be especially good when you've got a story line based around history's greatest outlaw. Was looking forward to a more violent rendition of this and was keen to see what Ridley Scott did with the depiction of archery. 

In general, the casting was well thought out. Russell Crowe made for a great Robin Hood... but maybe with a few too many grey hairs. It was cool to see Cate Blanchett playing the role of Lady Marion, she embodies the spunk of the character. Can't hate on the Lost pick with Kevin Durand as Little John, though the script could have stuck with the 'crossing the river' direction instead of the hammed up gambling angle when he was introduced. The staple characters such as King John and Friar Tuck were done well. Mark Strong was a brilliant villain, but I was left a little confused as to why he wasn't playing the role of Sheriff of Nottingham considering he has always been Robin Hood's main antagonist. Thank god there weren't any American accents to be heard, sorry Kevin Costner.

You expect something historically relevant when you have Ridley Scott at the helm. Movies like Black Hawk Down (2001), American Gangster (2007) and even Gladiator (2000) are a testament to this. Let me start by saying that this movie isn't exactly what you expect from a Robin Hood story a la Disney's animal portrayal (anyone remember that? The wily fox and all...) or even from the Costner portrayal. This isn't the story of the Merry Men (the boat scene and bar scene did have its moments), Sherwood Forest, 'Stealing from the rich, giving to the poor,' an unjust Sheriff of Nottingham and a dickhead King John who pillages his people (ok, the dickhead King John part is there). This is very much an origin story which rids of all these elements. It's about how Robin Longstride becomes Robin Hood. That's something that is important to know if you haven't watched it and will save you some puzzlement and a tad bit of frustration if you're expecting those plot lines. I walked in with expectations of a bad ass Prince of Thieves, instead we get socialist mercenary participating in identity theft. Which if I'm being fair isn't such a bad take on the legend.

Not going to complain about historical references because I thought a lot of the ways the characters were tied up was quite clever. However, there were just too many characters and a few of them got a bit too much focus - the time could have been spent on building Robin Hood's identity. There are several Marxist one liners delivered by Crowe, it would have been nice to have a little more depth to them. Which is why the big speech leading up to the war is painfully contrived. This in many ways tells us how weak the plot elements are that lead up to the point. The speech itself is supposed to be akin to William Wallace's "They can never take our freedom!" and it falls flat on it's face because Robin Hood's character isn't developed enough. Also, where the hell was the archery? I can count on one hand the amount of times Robin Hood used a bow. The script and overall plot needed to be a lot sharper. This could have been the result of several script changes for this project over the years... it was originally planned that the protagonist of the movie would be the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Russell Crowe.

War totting, sword wielding Robin Hood isn't what I remember and this is where the movie fails - plot wise as well as in the weaponry department. We needed more bows and arrows and a lot less politics. This would have made for a brilliant origin story, if the script gave the characters we remember to be important a little more face time. Little John and Friar Tuck are such colourful personalities and we barely saw any of him. I'll always remember the part where Robin disguises himself and takes part in the King's archery contest, sadly this was omitted. Having said of all this, this story is unique (as loosely as it's written) and it's a different take on a well known story. 

Production, cinematography wise, it's lush - you can't get enough of the greenery and old times England. Acting wise, the movie is spot on. Mark Strong, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and even Oscar Isaac as the detestable King John were all great. This script just needed to be tighter and a little more enthralling. The action scenes were good, but far from epic. A tad bit random if I'm being honest. That being said, if this is part one to what will be a Ridley Scott trilogy (which is peculiar), fair play and I look forward to seeing what is done with the Robin Hood story we all remember.

Hmm. This was weak and yet still watchable. Execution was great, script was poor. 6.5/10.


  1. I saw some trailers of this film. I had really high hopes for this movie. I suppose it was because of this i just thought it was alright.


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