X-Men Origins: Robin Hood

14 May

I would wager that most people who saw the trailer for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood had the same thought: gladiator in the middle ages.  I mean Russel Crowe plays a former soldier turned the thorn in a corrupt monarch’s reign? Sound familiar. Except, that’s not what this most recent adaptation of the most recent folk story is about.

This film is about Robin Longstride (Crowe) an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart, who flees to Nottingham after taking the identity of Sir Robin Loxley. Meanwhile the scheming Prince John consorts with his boy-hood friend Godfrey (Mark Strong) to collect taxes once he learns of the King’s death in France. Little does John know that Godfrey is working with King Philip of France to invade England.

It’s half palace intrigue, half Braveheart style action-war movie with a dose of comedy and romance with some historical undertones.  Scott has branded this movie the true story of Robin Hood, and it is more on the Prince of Thieves grittiness, then the classic Erol Flynn green tights. But at moments it more in line with Men in Tights, with Kevin Durand (Little John), Scott Grimes (Will Scarlet) and Mark Addy (Friar Tuck) drinking, chasing tail and being generally slap sticky in the background.

It’s not a bad movie. It’s just not a good movie. And it’s definitely not Gladiator. I mean Crowe is good, if a little melodramatic, as Robin Hood. But to be clear Robin Hood doesn’t spend any amount of time in Sherwood Forest, and only once does he rob from the rich and give to the poor. He spends more time being cheeky with the strong willed and tough, Marion of Loxley (Cate Blanchette), then doing the whole pirate of the high trees act. Of course Marion does more Joan of Arc style ass kicking then damsel in distressing.  Blanchette just channel Elizabeth: The Golden Age while Crowe does a Maximus/Braveheart combo.

The whole story actually becomes about political freedoms, as Crowe becomes an outspoken leader, advocating for monarchical limitations and a bill of rights in exchange for helping King John fend off the French invasion. Which is when any kind of historical accuracy goes out the window as the French landing on England’s beaches resembles a middle aged Saving Private Ryan.

Crowe and his comic relief don’t actually become outlaws with a forest hide out until the end of the film, when King John becomes jealous of Robin’s leadership abilities. The whole thing is more of a semi-campy, but violent and periodically gritty origins story. Robin goes from common archer to impostor royalty, back to common archer but with the respect of those around him.

Some critics are making a stink about Robin Hood’s poor reception at the Cannes Film Festival, which it opened earlier this week. But as some of you may know Cannes is in France, and the primary villain in this film is the French, who spend a healthy part of the film raping and pillaging British cities and towns.  Hmmm I wonder why they didn’t like it.

Directed by Ridley Scott; from the script written by Brian Helgeland. Starring: Russell Crowe (Robin Longstride), Cate Blanchett (Marion), William Hurt (Sir William Marshal), Mark Strong (Sir Godfrey), Mark Addy (Friar Tuck), Oscar Isaac (Prince John), Kevin Durand (Little John), Matthew Macfadyen (Sheriff), Douglas Hodge (Robert Loxley), Léa Seydoux (Isabella of Angoulême), Scott Grimes (Will Scarlet), Alan Doyle (Allan A’Dayle) and Max von Sydow (Sir Walter Loxley). Produced by Mr. Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Universal Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 11 minutes.

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