"ROBIN HOOD (2010" MOVIE REVIEW
Independent Films, Movie Reviews
The story of Robin Hood has been told so many times that the myths surrounding the legendary figure are all too familiar by now. The new film about the outlaw hero infuses Great Britain’s rich history in order to add layers to the well-known story.
“Robin Hood” spans the years from the death of King Richard I in 1199 to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. In the middle of it all is a man in search of his destiny. Russell Crowe stars as Robin Longstride, an expert archer who helps King Richard I’s army against the French.
Crowe portrays his Robin Hood as a scarred hero with lots of emotional baggage. The actor has an open yet gritty face, that you will believe Crowe to be an accidental hero who was initially only interested in self-preservation.
Much like the good, old “Robin Hood” films, especially the beloved 1938 film starring Errol Flynn, there’s much ado about mistaken identity and impersonation with this new version. The plot is moved forward by one of the characters pretending to be someone else.
Upon the death of King Richard I (Danny Huston), Robin travels back to England to deliver the news. He impersonates Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), the knight in charge of the King’s safety, in order to have a safe passage through England.
King Richard I’s mother, the fierce and calculating Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins), immediately grabs the ruler’s crown and gives it to her younger son, Prince John (Oscar Isaac), and pronounces him the king. It’s a decision that will change England forever.
“Gladiator” director Ridley Scott reteams with Crowe to tell the story of the origin of Robin Hood. The director is a self-confessed history buff, and he collaborated with screenwriter Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) to mix facts with myths. The end result has varying degrees of success.
The movie comes alive when the filmmakers are telling the historical snapshot of Britain. But when Scott and company are trying to make us feel for the traditional Robin Hood characters, the film misses the target.
That’s not to say that the actors saddled to play the familiar characters are incompetent. To the contrary, Cate Blanchett did a fine job as Lady Marion, Robin’s love interest and the widow of Loxley. When Robin goes to Nottingham to tell the sad news of her husband’s death, Blanchett plays the scene with equal parts regret and fear.
Blanchett is a perfect match for Crowe. She is the heart to his emotion. Also giving a memorable performance is Mark Strong as the villain Godfrey. He’s a British political figure who is secretly working with the French. Strong gives a menacing performance that you will love to hate.
The traditional villain of “Robin Hood” films, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen), is not the looming scoundrel in this version. But his character is being setup to be the next baddie in the sequel.
Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men is also introduced and each character has the same idiosyncrasies as their predecessors. For example, Friar Tuck (the delightful Mark Addy) is a loquacious drunk, and Little John (Kevin Durand) is a loveable lug.
The big battle scene near the end is well-choreographed but that’s the part when I started feeling bored. The last act involving Magna Carta feels tacked on. It’s very evident that the filmmakers cut some scenes to move the narrative forward. I can’t wait to see the DVD deleted scenes.
The stories of Robin are among the oldest in England’s oral histories, and it’s commendable that the filmmakers tried to mix real and fiction to come up with an entertaining albeit fluffy summer film. It’s also great to see the legendary Max Von Sydow on the big screen as the mysterious Sir Walter Loxley, Marion’s father-in-law.
I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t clap in the end upon the sight of Robin’s arrow piercing right through the Sheriff of Nottingham’s declaration that our hero is now an outlaw. This “Robin Hood” is definitely much better than the last, big Robin Hood film, 1991’s “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” starring Kevin Costner, and that’s a compliment.
Year of Production: 2010
Country: United States