Review: Robin Hood


What was Ridley Scott’s last ‘classic’? Let’s make that question a bit more interesting – how old were you when his last ‘classic’ was in cinemas? Maybe you thought Gladiator was a classic? Scott certainly did and he’s paired up again with Russell Crowe for another historical epic.

Robin Hood is an origin story of a fictitious character from Nottingham, or Yorkshire, or, judging by the accents – Dublin. Robin is an archer in the army of King Richard who swears an oath to transport a sword back to Nottingham. He didn’t have anything else to do. What follows is Robin pretending to be a Knight, joining the household of a Nottingham baron and fighting the French alongside King John. I’m not sure that’s historically accurate. Wait, I know that’s not accurate.

Storywise, Robin Hood isn’t going to impress. Loosely drapped across the screen is some sort of allegory for…modern bankrupt Britain? The joy of communism? It’s difficult to follow and your left thinking you’ve missed a key scene. People want to see Robin Hood ambushing the Sheriff’s men in Sherwood Forrest, instead we get a history of the Magna Carta. Many people will be left feeling a bit cheated; I left feeling there was a more interesting tale to tell about Robin Hood.

Thankfully this isn’t a film where we need to care too much about the story. I don’t think Ridley Scott makes good films – I’ll level with you now. What he does do is make visually impressive films. Alien, Blade Runner and now Robin Hood, films that just look great. There must have been CGI in this film – but it’s used so sparingly, it’s used so well that the film looks uncannily realistic. A cavalry charge is surely CGI wizardry – but it honestly looks like hundreds of knights in action. James Cameron are you watching? Let’s not get carried away – the battle scenes aren’t particularly well directed but they do look authentic. Medieval towns and cities also come to life, there is a lot of care and attention here.

Russell Crowe’s Irish Robin Hood is adequate. Hollywood Male Warrior 101 really. He’s tough, he’s emotionally guarded, he’s probably an unavoidable movie stereotype. Cate Blanchett is much better as Marion – in true warrior queen style. Her scenes with Russell Crowe are the films best though I didn’t need to see her actually become the literal warrior queen.

The last big screen outing for Mr Hood was Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. It was pure Hollywood nonsense, but it was a lot of fun. A bit of ‘fun’ would have helped this film a long nicely – trimming both the story and running time might have been all that was required. Personally I’d have liked a bit more swashbuckling bravdo, after all if your not ‘cool’ your not an outlaw – your just a malcontent. The film tries hard to not be your typical action flick – to the extent it deliberately avoid avoids some easy wins. A moustache twirling villain and the sexy young heroine are cliché – but if you haven’t the story to compensate with you suffer more from their absence.

Despite the effort to the contrary Robin Hood is all style and little substance – but what style it has works just well enough, though I would have liked some of the sunning shots Prince of Thieves had (remember Robin’s slow mo arrow shot as the background explodes?). Overall impressive visuals, adequate performances and simply not being as dull as Iron Man 2 get’s this a ‘pass’ in my book.



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One Response to “Review: Robin Hood”

  1. Danjo Kazooe Says:

    It seems your review reflects the general consensus on the movie, only you seemed to have embraced the fact that that this is not the by-the-numbers Robin Hood tale everyone was expecting. A lot of people have been turned-off by its general lack of “Robin Hood type stuff”.

    I haven’t seen it myself. I was put off by the dull as dishwater marketing, but some good word of mouth and re-calibrated expectations may lead to me giving this one a try.

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