Robin Hood (2010)

robin hood

“What are you getting at? I’m proportionate!”

The Scoop: 2010 PG-13, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Max Von Sydow

Tagline:  The untold story behind the legend.

Summary Capsule: Every grey-tinged grim and gritty battlefield epic of the past 20 years is regurgitated, with extra feral children.

Louise’s Rating: 1 out of 5 iron-tipped arrows. I do not recommend this film.

Louise’s Review: Have you seen Braveheart? Oh, you have? What about Gladiator? Kingdom of Heaven, King Arthur, and Lord of the Rings, have you seen them? Surely you haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan, Troy and Atonement as well! My, you are a movie-going person, aren’t you! Well, you really don’t need to see this, then. Bye!

What? What!… Oh, man! Not fair!

Well, loyal readers, Justin has chained me to my desk in Mutant Towers, and he won’t let me out until I write a proper review for Ridley Scott’s 2010 opus, Robin Hood. He is a cruel taskmaster. Justin, that is, not Ridley Scott.

Basically, ol’ Ridley has in this here film completely cannibalized work he and other directors have done before, and produced another one of those joyless mud’n’blood’n’EXPLOSIONS slaughter-fests we see so many of these days. Robin Hood is an okay action-movie way to spend a couple of hours, but I just can’t admire it. It’s got the stars and the money, but watching it I couldn’t stop wondering how many cool, original, exciting, funny, sexy screenplays were sacrificed for its sake. You know that feeling you get sometimes watching a movie – the nasty feeling that this dreck is no-one’s artistic expression, but was only made so that everyone in the Hollywood industry got a payslip that month and you got something new in the cinema for your Friday night. I swear, some sequences in this seem copied shot-for-shot from other films. While watching this, I honestly thought, “Gee whiz, this is the film I would make, having never been to art school or had a creative thought of my own, but having *seen* a lot of quite good movies.” It’s lazy. It’s a lazy piece of filmmaking, and if I was Ridley Scott’s teacher, I’d refuse to mark it and tell him to do it again at breaktime (or ‘recess’, for you Yanks).

I get that extras and make-up artists and editors and set-builders need to eat. I need to eat too. That’s why I pick up work here and there while dreaming of a glorious career elsewhere. It just makes me sad to see the Robin Hood legend, which I love, wasted in this way. Like I said, it’s okay, but no more than that, when (I believe) that the filmmakers’ duty to the source material was to ensure it was so much better!

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett (two Australians playing two Yorkshiremen) are decent actors, who turn in the mature and professional performances you’d expect. Matthew Macfadyen is wasted as the Sheriff of Nottingham, who might as well not be a character at all. Mark Addy (Game of Thrones via The Full Monty and A Knight’s Tale) brings an interesting sarcasm to his role as Friar Tuck. Everyone else is forgettable.

There are certain things I do like. For one, Cate Blanchett’s initial interpretation of Marian. She’s tall and stick thin, tough and sarcastic, and loyal to her people and her family. The characterisation rather falls apart in the third act but then, such is the way of many Marians. I also like the way that the merry men (Robin, Little John, Will and Alan) do a lot of singing together – I’ve read some interviews with cast members, and apparently they decided on a backstory wherein the characters met each other through singing together on those long Crusades evenings.

To the plot! Maximus and a couple of his buddies are common archers in the army of Richard I of England. They’re on their way back from the Middle East when the king dies, and they unwittingly foil a French plot to steal his crown. With Maximus impersonating the knight Sir Robert Loxley, they arrive in London and hand the crown over to the disreputable and dissolute heir Commodus John. They then make their way to Loxley Village near Nottingham so Maximus can pull a Martin Guerre on Sir Robert’s wife Elizabeth Tudor and father Ming the Merciless. There’s like, falling in love and stuff. However, before our lead character is allowed to become, oh what is Robin Hood known for again? oh yes, AN OUTLAW IN THE FOREST!!! he has to go through a ridiculous charade of foiling that French plot (masterminded by You Know That Guy Mark Strong) and stopping the Normandy landings and getting John to sign the Magna Carta, while finding out that his long-lost dad was some sort of proto-Tom Paine and was the friend of Ming the Merciless and William Hurt’s character. It’s all very tiring and frustrating. There are also some feral children who disguise themselves as Leatherface.

I swear, just outlining the plot makes me long for the satanism-lite and funny rape attempts of Prince of Thieves.

Why are filmmakers doing this at the moment? Why are they taking awesome legends and giving them depressing quasi-historical origin stories? This Robin Hood only becomes an outlaw in the last scene. Artorius Castus in King Arthur only becomes a king in the last scene when all his knights are dead! While I’d love to see a historical film about the Magna Carta, Eleanor of Aquitaine, King John, William Marshal, Hereward the Wake, Philip the Fair of France and all those exciting medieval things, when I pay my hard-earned to see a flick called Robin Hood I have certain expectations. One is that it will be awesome. Another is that it will be joyful. Robin Hood has a hard life but in my heart he is also a witty trickster who relishes outsmarting society’s villains.

I do not recommend this film. Try Prince of Thieves, the Errol Flynn version or the Patrick Bergin version (also called Robin Hood but with more cross-dressing Uma Thurman) instead.

“So, what experience do you have?” “Well, I played Shadowfax in Lord of the Rings – that’s how I know Cate, actually.”

Intermission

  • The ‘planting the grain by night’ scenes are a well-shot sequence.
  • I love a map montage! But they take a bad route…
  • All these armies wandering about the countryside confuse me. The French pretending to be English?
  • So Robin Hood is an archer… okay… so he is leading the cavalry why exactly?
  • Ah the old arrow-for-a-nail trick, beloved of every Robin Hood film.
  • ::SPOILER:: They would never burn Walter like that. They would bury him. He wouldn’t believe that he could be resurrected if his body had been cremated.
  • So, there’s one robbery scene. Right.

Groovy Dialogue

Friar Tuck: So why do they call you ‘Little John’?
Little John: What are you getting at? I’m proportionate!

Robin: If you thought it was hard getting wages from him when he was alive, try getting wages from a dead king.

Eleanor of Aquitaine: Milking a dried udder gets you nothing but kicked off the milking stool.
John: Mother, spare me your farmyard memories. You have none, and I don’t understand them.

If you enjoyed this film, try:

  • Troy
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Gladiator

3 comments

  1. This is actually a prime example of how writers are the red-headed step-children of the movie industry. The original script was titled “Nottignham” and featured The Sheriff as the protagonist, investigating a string of murders for which Robin Hood was framed.The whole thing was supposed to climax with a battle over Nottingham between Richard and John. Ridley Scott came onboard and rewrote the whole story, a few times, leaving very little of the original script, which was incidentally so good there was a bidding war over who got to film it. The result was the “been there done that” movie that made it to screens.

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