Robin Hood Review
Kieran's Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.3/10
(3 ratings total)
It has been 19 years since Robin Hood was last on the silver screen. But with his enduring popularity and new trends taking place in cinema since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
nearly 20 years ago, a re-invention was always in the cards. With Ridley Scott directing and Russell Crowe starring, a new type of Robin Hood is born.
Scott is one of the best directors around for a historical film; he has shown a great skill for taking people back to another time and show what the period would have been like (even if he has to take a few liberties to the historical facts). He has shown he ability in The Duellists, Gladiator, and Kingdom of Heaven. With Robin Hood he shows that the Medieval period was dark and dirty, even for members of the gentry. Battles are hard and brutal, though with a PG-13 rating there is a lot less blood than in Gladiator, which is a shame.
The year was 1199, England has been suffering from the heavy burden of taxation to fund Richard I’s (Danny Huston) wars and the countryside was suffering from social problems with war orphans running wild. Richard I’s army was marching through France to get back to England after the Crusades and they were storming castles and looting from the French.
Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his friends are archers within the army. When Richard I died in battle they fled and Robin assumes the identity of a English lord who has been murdered in an ambush. Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight and an adviser to King John (Oscar Issac) secretly meets with the French with a plot to make the new king unpopular and force the nation into civil war. This would weaken England and make the kingdom easy to invade.
Robin goes to Nottingham and gives the news to Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) and Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett) that their son and husband has died. They suggest that Robin continues to pretend that he was really Sir Robert Loxley and Walter himself seems to know about Robin’s past. With England edging closer towards Civil War, Robin is thrown into the middle of the political situation and becomes a figure that will unite the kingdom against the impending invasion.
Scott, with his screenwriter Brain Helgeland, set out to make a more complex, balanced picture. Richard I was not made out to be the great king people think he is because of his heavy taxation and ruthless nature. John was made out to be someone who was dogmatic and naive, but not someone wanting to be a tyrant just for the fun of it. He was portrayed in a more sympathetic light to what has been shown in the past. It was Godfrey who was the main villain and in the Medieval period national loyalty was not such a big issue as it is today.
Scott knows how to deliver an action sequence and there are some excellent battle scenes in this film. Yet he slows the film down long enough to allow the plot to develop and add a little dose of humor. There is also the thematic idea of a king’s right to govern, but this is mostly an action epic, not a historical film about medieval government. However, it is a less bloody epic to allow a slightly younger audience to attend.
Another Scott-Crowe collaboration produces more positive results. Crow gives a solid performance as a rougher and tougher Robin. Blanchett is equally so as an older Marion, a tough woman who is also willing to fight, albeit a woman that properly would not have existed in this period. Strong shows once again that he is an excellent villain, having done so with ease in both Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, as a man who thinks about his own self-interests. Strong has forged an impressive resume as a villain-for-hire and is the strongest actor in the film.
The Americans in this English-set film did well. That would be William Hurt, who was very strong and Huston, who seemed to have a blast as Richard I and obviously shows he is not as noble he seems.
Helgeland wrote a clever script weaving in medieval ideology and a complex political situation with room for action. He already had form with a Medieval-set film, having written and directed A Knight’s Tale, but with Robin Hood, he seems to have grown up as a writer and gives this film a little more of a complex plot and grander picture. He also cleverly mixes some aspects about how the legend has changed, like how Robin starts as a commoner and pretends to be a higher-ranked man. The film also covers its bases by showing the two sites that claim to be Robin’s home: Nottingham and Barnsdale.
But this was an origin story, a start to a potential new film series. This is a Robin Hood that has not been seen on screen like this before. Hopefully if there is a sequel then Matthew MacFadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham would get a bigger role.
Robin Hood is also historically suspect, with events and dates being changed and made up, some ideas and culture also seems to be the victim of artistic license. But Scott knows that storytelling requires character development and show a more balanced picture, particularly with historically set films. At least this film does accept that it is a piece of historical fiction.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Brian Helgeland (screenplay), Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (story)
Staring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong
Other Player Affinity Reviews
"We don’t need no stinkin’ Merry Men, just toss us into a gritty period piece featuring dashing knights, rousing action sequences and grand speeches about valour and heroism and things will be just fine. While Ridley Scott’s recreationist Robin Hood
has its narrative slumps and pacing issues, one of the faults is certainly not the more epic (yet grounded) approach to revisiting the legend. Crowe, though frequently drowned in the sheer scope of the film, does what he always does and does it well and has some great chemistry with Cate Blanchett’s Maid Marion. Scott is surely one of the great remaining chroniclers of past historic events and though this blockbuster is not amongst his best works, his craftsmanship is regularly able to make the most of whatever effort in which he engages." Rating: 7/10
Julian's Rating: 4/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.3/10