Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

“Robin Hood” (2010), may possibly disappoint as many Robin Hood fans as it will surely please admirers of director Ridley Scott, but make no mistake this is a fine movie and one with far more integrity than the stream of semi-mindless blockbusters which bombard the cinema screens of its time. Where would the disappointment lay? Well, certainly not in the absence of men in little green hats and tights. To suggest such is ludicrous, and well out of touch with the appetites of the Robin Hood audience as it has developed post-Michael Praed. But what is lacking is something of the audacity we expect from the main character; that quality which has us both smile and gasp at his daring exploits in one and the same breath. Russell Crowe’s Robin is undoubtedly heroic, and a man of principle, but he is perhaps more akin to Ned Kelly or Jesse James than he is to a Zorro or Scarlet Pimpernel type.

Ridley Scott approaches the legend by basing his movie on the premise that Robin Hood was in reality Robin Longstride, thereby claiming more “historical accuracy” than has been the case with previous films on the subject. But that seems as foolish to me as claiming a film about Dracula which takes into account Vlad the Impaler, is therefore more “historically accurate” than sticking to the novel. The theory does not stand up to scrutiny, and can result in a dull movie. Thankfully, Ridley Scott’s movie about Robin Hood is not dull. (In fact, although not my favourite Hood movie, I think it’s possibly Scott’s career best).
The story involves the archer Robin Longstride, serving in the Crusades. When King Richard is killed, Robin, Little John, Alan A Dale and Will Scarlet leave for England. Meanwhile another “Robin”, the knight Robin of Loxley, has been entrusted to return King Richard’s crown to England. When Loxley is ambushed and fatefully wounded, he passes the crown and his sword to Robin Longstride, asking him to complete the mission. It is in this way that Robin Longstride will become the new Robin of Loxley, inheriting both his lands and his wife Marian. Only at the end of the movie do we see Robin banished as an outlaw by a King John jealous of the way his soldiers admire Robin’s courage in defeating the French. (Sounds complicated, but it’s really not).
The emphasis being on action and the political manoeuvrings which went with the transition from King Richard to King John, there is little time to study the characters apart from Robin and Marian, and that is to the movie’s detriment. (I would also have liked to see more to of the feral children in the forest; a splendid, original idea). But Friar Tuck and the Sheriff of Nottingham are all in place should a sequel ever get made. And if there is no sequel? Well I still came away thinking this was more of a Robin Hood movie than most reviews in the media would have you believe.

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