Thursday, January 17, 2019

Robin Hood 2018

Marian meets Lord of the Manor Robin whilst she is stealing a horse for a local peasant in need of such. Romance ensues, until Robin gets his "Draft Notice" (no kidding, it is actually called that on screen), and he is sent off to the Crusades where he fights under Gisborne's command. In battle he is subdued by an Arab who later turns out to be Yahya, a name which apparently translates as John, before Gisborne comes to his rescue. However, for rebelling against what he witnesses in the war, Robin is sent back to England as a traitor.

Upon his return to Nottingham Robin finds his estate has been confiscated by the Sheriff of Nottingham and Marion is missing. To find her Robin visits Tuck, a Catholic priest in a confession box, who explains Robin had been pronounced dead and Marion sent to work in the mines beneath Nottingham. Not only that but she is now romantically involved with one Will Tillman. At this point Yahya (John) appears on the scene to persuade Robin to join him in a fight against “rich men taking more power from the blood of innocents”. Towards that end he puts Robin through a rigorous training regime after which he becomes “The Hood”. In my opinion these first 35 minutes of the movie as described above are the better part. The remaining hour can be a rather dull endurance test.

I don’t mind the semi-contemporary costumes and Saracen bow which worked well in the Robin Hood TV series of 2006. Also the opening battle scenes, perhaps influenced by the actual Iraq War 2004, are exciting. The presence of a Saracen outlaw (this time John himself), started back in 1984 with Robin of Sherwood, and one can only assume the next outlaw to be cast as a “person of colour” will be Robin himself. The main problem with this film is the casting and its tendency to mix and match various previous incarnations of the legend rather than give us anything fresh. Taron Egerton lacks any degree of charisma or on-screen presence, whilst the rest of the cast seem to struggle against the script and director to make any kind of impression, the one notable exception being Jamie Foxx.

In this age of “political correctness” writers struggle with the Crusade, and I certainly sympathise with that. But there is no mention at all of the Crusades in the very earliest tales of Robin Hood. He did not go there. Similarly we are deprived of a “fat Friar”, but we need to realise that the original tales of Friar Tuck use his gluttony for both food and women as a social comment. It was Hollywood which changed that.

Robin Hood, 2018, was so poorly received by the public one assumes the legend will not be visited again for some considerable time.
 Above top: Taron Egerton as Robin of Loxley. Above: Eve Hewson as Marian, Ben Mendelsohn as Sheriff of Nottingham, Tim Minchin as Tuck.

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