Robin Hood

Robin v. Maximus - no contest! - William Marshall

10 Points

Viewer Rating:William Marshall has rated Robin Hood rating: 2 Star

Of the modern batch of big historical epics that have graced our screens in the last fifteen years or so, only two stand out for their brilliant combination of high quality production and sheer entertainment value. They are Mel Gibson's Braveheart and Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Unfortunately the duds outnumber the successes, which shows how difficult it must be to get everything right in these costly productions. Despite the considerable acting, directing and writing talent behind movies like Troy, King Arthur, and Alexander, they failed to emulate Gibson's and Scott's memorable creations. Ridley Scott himself came close with Kingdom of Heaven, but was let down by the miscasting of Orlando Bloom in the lead role. Still the genre refuses to die and here Scott and Russell Crowe are reunited in yet another go at the Robin Hood myth. On paper everything looks great. Crowe is supported by a superb cast of players: Danny Huston, Max von Sydow, William Hurt and of course Cate Blanchett. Scott is an expert at handling large casts in big sets and is particularly adept in those rivetting battles scenes that have been the hallmark of movies like Black Hawk Down and the aforementioned Gladiator. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland has an impressive track record, having created the screenplays for L. A. Confidential and Mystic River. So as I left the cinema after Robin Hood, I couldn't help thinking, "where did it all go wrong?" I find it quite difficult to pinpoint the problem with this film. It simply does not carry the same impact as Gladiator for instance, but why, given that many of the ingredients are the same in both movies? It is partly to do with the story itself. In the quest for historical accuracy, the screenplay loses sharpness. In this kind of movie audiences need a clear moral perspective so that they can engage with the principal characters. For instance, we learn early on that Robin and his comrades participated in one of the most ignoble and horrific atrocities of the entire crusade period: the cold-blooded slaughter of 2,600 Muslim prisoners following the capture of the city of Acre by Richard the Lionheart's army. Robin then assumes the identity of a dead English knight, steals his clothes and horse and blags his way back to England. Hardly what we would have expected from Errol Flynn or even Kevin Costner, and a track record that is not likely to have the audience rooting for the hero as they did for Maximus Decimus Meridius ten years ago. Then there are the supporting parts which are underwritten to the point where we neither understand nor care about the characters. Wonderful actors like Danny Huston and Cate Blanchett try and fail to inject some level of substance into their sparsely-conceived roles; only the octogenerian Max von Sydow succeeds in bringing the noble Sir Walter Loxley to three-dimensional life, despite the limitations of the script. Even the climactic battle scene fails to reach the heights of previous Scott set pieces in Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven. To be sure it is exciting enough, but why was it necessary to borrow so heavily from the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan? If Scott was trying to make some point about the timeless tragedy of warfare, he could have done so in a less heavy-handed manner. But the lion's share of the blame for the failure of Robin Hood must lie with the miscasting of both Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. They are clearly too old for the parts of Robin Hood and Marian. They are both in their forties and, in this film, look it. We are meant to accept that this movie is effectively a prequel to what could be a franchise, with Robin and Marian leading their merry men against the tyrannical King John and his henchman, the sheriff of Nottingham, in one or more sequels. This is simply not credible. Sean Connery was the same age as Russel Crowe is now when he played Robin Hood in Robin and Marian. But in that 1976 movie, Robin Hood was in the twilight of his life. In the current version he has not even started his outlaw career yet! The chances are though that we will be spared the sight of a fifty-year-old Robin Hood charging through Sherwood Forest if this movie fails to make a profit. Perhaps in a few years time, someone will take the legend of Robin Hood and turn it into a really memorable movie experience. For the moment though, this disappointed viewer will turn back to Errol Flynn in cinema and Michael Praed on TV for a taste of how it should be done.

Review published on the 20 May 2010 14:00

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Political correctnesss gone awry - MikeB

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Cliche after Cliche - trish

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Maximus Hood? - simonconnolly

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Wasting time & money - Mike

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xlent - the beat

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Behead The Hood - Tom Om

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meh - cloe

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14 May 2010 13:34

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Boring - noel

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13 May 2010 14:22

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It's no Gladiator! - Paul

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