Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood

Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott are a great Director/Actor combo no question. Recently that combo has come under fire for, frankly, firing blanks. Although American Gangster seemed to have made it through unscathed, A Good Year and Body of Lies however completely tanked at the box office. When I first heard the two were gearing up for a shot at Sherwood Forest I kind of rolled my eyes and shrugged, "who the hell cares." When I heard they were contemplating doing a revisionist take where Russell would play both the Sheriff and Robin as well as show a slightly different take where the Sheriff may not have been evil just misunderstood, my curiosity was piqued. Of course that all was shattered when the reports came in that they were just going back to telling the same Robin Hood tale except this one, as the ads put it, was supposed to be the story that created the legend that apparently has never been told.Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a tough archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) as they trek back to England after the failed Crusades. With him are his loyal friends and merry men Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes), Allan A'Dayle (Alan Doyle) and of course Little John (Kevin Durand). After the King is killed Robin takes on the guise of the King's friend and confidant Locksley so he may return the crown back to England and ensure Locksley's sword to the fallen aide's father. Robin, as good as his word, returns the crown to that arrogant jerk King John (Oscar Isaac). Robin finds himself continuing to pretend he is the son of Locksley, only this time at the behest of Sir Walter Locksley himself (Max von Sydow). Which means he gets the luxury of pretending to be married to the widow Maid Marion (Cate Blanchett).There is quite a lot of plot here as we follow Robin back to England to find his country in turmoil and he seems to have enemies on all sides. He's got the jerk Prince, I mean King John trying to collect his taxes not to mention the invading French hordes, led by Godfrey (Mark Strong) the turncoat, burning and sacking every town in jolly old England. I honestly loved this story and the actors and the beautiful scenery this is a Class A production. The only problem is why the hell is it called Robin Hood? As much as I enjoyed this thing the names just distracted me. Robin Hood is a myth about a legendary thief with a heart of gold who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. It should be fun with bows and arrows and swashbuckling and daring do. If this is what you were hoping for please look somewhere else. There is none of that here. This is a gritty realistic drama that takes place in the 11th Century and is really more about the origin of the Magna Carta then it is about Robin Hood. And I'm telling you I ain't complaining but again I ask the question, what the hell does any of this have to do with Robin Hood? You see this is supposed to be an origin story of Robin and his merry men and why he became an outlaw--so it took about 25 minutes in the Kevin Costner Prince of Thieves to establish that Robin of the Hood is an outlaw. In this flick it takes almost three hours and then, as you've seen from the trailers, our hero is finally dubbed an Outlawwwwww!There are so many problems with Russell Crowe being Robin Hood especially Robin Hood in a pre-quel one important note would have to be his age. I mean ole Russ is pushing 50 and this is when Robin gets started? Not to mention it's hard for this guy to be sarcastic and chatty. Although he did do a great job of that in 3:10 to Yuma. Yes, that's it he should have played his Robin exactly like his Ben Wade, without the evil. This is also a story that has technically been told poorly ever since Errol Flynn kicked the Sheriff's ass in 1938. I actually think one of the best so far is the Disney version of Robin Hood. It's everything you want in a Robin Hood story and it's great for kids. Now there were glimmers of hope, as I mentioned before, Prince of Thieves was pretty darn great except for Robin himself. Costner was kind of a joke to put it mildly. But the movie was fun and it really tried to swing for the fences. Again I ask, why the hell didn't Ridley do something like that? For a Robin Hood tale this one is so heavy handed with the speeches and the philosophy. I want to see Robin unleashed with the bow and kicking ass, with clever traps in Sherwood. Nope, that kind of stuff is a no show. It's not to say Robin Hood has to be dumbed down but it certainly should be fun. This film is so damn serious it's hard to imagine anyone having any fun. In fact the few moments of fun in the film get cut to shreds mostly dealing with Robin's buds and the always humorous Friar Tuck (Mark Addy). Those guys were really great and brought so much more to the film. I've always been a fan of Addy especially from a Knight's Tale and it would have been nice to see a few more scenes with him.As I said I'm totally conflicted about this movie. On one hand I really enjoyed it but as a Robin Hood movie it just wasn't right at all. So it's your call folks honestly I'm going to have to break down the Bucket system this time for the first time ever. Either way I recommend you see this flick it's well written, by the always great Brian Helgeland and say what you want about Ridley but it's hard for this guy to make a bad film. I'll put it this way if you enjoyed Kingdom of Heaven, which I did, then you should enjoy this movie too. Just keep reminding yourself that this isn't really a Robin Hood story and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Grades: Movie about the 11th Century: 3 and half buckets

Robin Hood flick: 2 buckets

4 comments:

Speck said...

I had no real desire to see this movie, so when I did make it to the theater I was pleasantly surprised with how much I did like it.

But with that said...This movie should have been titled "Nottingham" the obvious sequel set up would have been called Robin Hood.

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Speck said...

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youhana said...

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