Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Robin Hood

My main concern going into this movie was that since Robin Hood is traditionally set during the Crusades, that we'd get a film pretty similar to Ridley Scott's so-so Kingdom of Heaven. The good news is that if you also had similar reserves, you can forget it about them. Robin Hood is much much closer in plot, tone, and scope to another English legend's reboot film, King Arthur. If you liked the 2004 Clive Owen movie as much as I did, you will certainly enjoy this one.

Robin and his companions have just deserted the Lion Heart's army after the King's death, and their quest happens to take them through London and a plot filled with political intrigue. Just like in King Arthur, where we were briefly given insight into Rome's affairs with Britain, Robin Hood nicely touches on England's impending struggles with France. This story is actually the main plot, as one rogue Englishman conspires with King Phillip of France to destroy England and also take out Robin for getting in the way. Even though it greatly cuts down the amount of time we get with Robin's merry men and the Sheriff Nottingham (big disappointment), I understand why they did it, and will explain in a little bit.

Like King Arthur, Robin Hood takes the classic legend that everyone is familiar with and gives it a gritty little tweak. This time around, there are no tights, and Marion is no Maid. In fact, Robin Hood is not even Robin of Loxley. In the only silly and confusing scene of the film, Robin is kinda granted the estate and Marion's hand so people can think he's Sir Robert Loxley rather than Robin Longstride. Russell Crowe is not dashing or charismatic like Cary Elwes and Kevin Costner, and his Gladiator shtick doesn't work so well in this movie. You could say he's pulling a Sam Worthington because he doesn't add toor take away from the film (and whichever journalist called him out for a Scottish accent, they were on to something). He's joined by his companions from the war, Little John (aka the awesome Martin Keamy), Will Scarlet (funny pothead Morris from ER), and Alann a' Dayle. Later on, we get to see the wonderful Mark Addy (from A Knight's Tale and the upcoming A Game of Thrones series... don't judge him from Still Standing alone). The supporting cast is not as great as King Arthur's round table knights, but they're still pretty cool.

And finally, like King Arthur, Robin Hood is only telling Act I of what will hopefully be an ongoing story. At the end of King Arthur, the hero is crowned and married to Guinevere, and they were probably about to build Camelot.... except the move was panned and didn't make much money. Robin Hood similarly becomes that man he is destined to be at the end of this film, but there is much left to tell. We only briefly get glimpses of the forest and the sheriff. Instead, they spent more time on political squabbling with the entertaining King John, who is obviously inexperienced and temperamental as the new King. William Hurt's also in this as the generic and noble advisor like Jeremy Irons was in Kingdom of Heaven.

But like I was alluding to earlier, Ridley Scott built a pretty solid foundation for the rest of the series, if it continues. We understand the motives for why outlaw orphans take refuge in the forest like a bunch of Lost Boys. We also understand why the Sheriff of Nottingham is a petty, slighted person because what little power he has is really not much at all. These stories can be further explored in a sequel, but for right now, Robin Hood accomplished giving us a interesting new side to the classic story that still showcases cunning warfare, uplifting comradarie, and a sorta convincing love story.


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