Robin Hood Review (3.5 of 5)
It’s strengths far outreach it’s weaknesses and is one of those movies that deserves to be seen on a big screen. I would even go so far to say that some of its wishy-washy reviews stem from the personal prejudices of some critics, than anything that occurs onscreen.
Serving more as an origin story than anything else, this particular telling of the bandit of Sherwood Forest revolves around how Robin Hood came to be at odds with the Sheriff of Nottingham and King John (and his policies). The main difference in this telling and in most Robin Hood movies of the past (excluding ‘Robin & Marion’) is that King Richard the Lionheart doesn’t show up at the end to restore order.
In this version the King (played by ‘hit or miss’ actor Danny Huston) is killed very early on setting into motion the events seen in the film. Crowe’s Robin Hood, a common man who fought in the King’s army gets caught up in a political conspiracy involving a possible Norman invasion when he comes into the possession of the King’s crown.
He does this while making a promise to a dying knight that he will return the crown along with the Knight’s sword to their proper owners. He begins with the intention of making a fast buck for himself, but quickly finds himself at odds with the new laws of the land and becomes a reluctant hero (which Crowe does pretty well).
Crowe has been criticized (at least in England) over the authenticity of his accent, but anyone outside of the UK probably won’t be able to tell whether it’s a well done accent or not. His Robin Of tHe Hood is likable, heroic and humorous and I think that’s all an audience can hope for.
His repartees with Cate Blanchett’s Marion were fun. Cate Blanchett is a great actress, but I always enjoy seeing her in roles where she’s a bit sarcastic (like when she played Katherine Hepburne in The Aviator). She has a good sense of comedic timing.
Speaking of which, along withe the aforementioned actors, this movie has an outstanding cast. Along with the actors I’ve already mentioned there are many good supporting performances.
Most audiences will probably overlook the part of the venerable Eileen Atkins (as the mother of Richard and John), but I thought she did a great job in a mostly thankless role. Her part required only to really just move the story along, but I for one appreciated her attention to nuance.
Max Von Sydow as the blind Sir Walter, William Hurt as the appropriately named William, Kevin Durand’s Little John, Scott Grimes, Alan Doyle and Mark Addy’s take on the slightly less than pious Friar Tuck all contributed positively. The core members of the ‘Merry Men’ who are never called that (although they get a nod), keep the movie at a lighter tone.
I think the major drawback of the film were the villains; not that they did a bad job. Prince/King John (played by Oscar Isaac) was for the most part played for laughs. So was the Sheriff of Nottingham (Mattew McFadyen) who was barely in the film.
The main villain in the movie was Godfrey played by actor Mark Strong who seems to be specializing as bad guys these days. He was entertaining as the ‘guy you love to hate’, but the problem was the same as the Sheriff. He wasn’t in the film enough. Ultimately, the real villains of the movie are the French, which may be the biggest problem. Who’s afraid of the French?
This was a pretty good movie. Having a better villain (one really good one) might have made this a truly great movie. As it is, I think most moviegoers will still be entertained by this (Insert Russell Crowe’s “Are you not entertained?” line from Gladiator).
If you go to see it because you are a die hard Robin Hood fan, you’ll get enough of the old story to enjoy. It also has enough that’s new that makes for a decidely different and ‘fresh’ (hate using that word)take on the characters. If you’re a Crowe fan, you’ll get what you expect which is a good actor who’s believable as an action star.
If you’re a Ridley Scott fan, you’ll get what you expect there, too.
An intelligent, well made film with a well told story by a director with maybe the best eye in the business for big screen cinematic visuals. He has a knack for illuminating interesting and thought provoking concepts in any given story. And lately , no matter what time period that the film’s set in, boiled down to their essence, his movies have relevance to today’s current events (especially events in the Middle East). Just look at Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven and Body of Lies; all are remarkable films. Even Robin Hood has ties to that…
And Scott does war scenes as well as anyone. The Norman Invasion on beautiful day at the beach reminded me of a less gloomy Middle Ages version of the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.
Like I said, if you’re a fan of Scott’s intelligent epics you’ll probably enjoy this one. Best seen on the big screen (I’m a poet, don’t you know it) as Scott’s movies always are. 3.5 whatevers out of 5. It was more than worth the price of admission.