King Arthur and Robin Hood are two of the reasons I have a strong love for the fantasy genre. From reading the many adaptations of their legends to watching the many films based on them, be it the Disney films or live action ones, I have a strong connection to the characters. They represent a piece of my childhood and even my adulthood that I very much cherish.
Being as there have been more than a few films based on the legend of Robin Hood, I feel a little funny that there is an all new film called, simply, Robin Hood in 2010. But that is exactly what director, Ridley Scott has delivered to audiences complete with Russell Crowe in fine form as the legendary bandit of Sherwood Forest. While Scott’s Robin Hood is based on the legend that has captivated audiences for years it is not the story we have grown to know and love, instead it sets out to tell the story of how the legend came to be and the results it produces are a mixed bag.
Crowe stars as Robin Longstride, an archer in the crusading army of King Richard the Lionheart. During an assault on a French castle King Richard is felled and Robin and a small group of soldiers desert the forces to head back to England but fate intervenes and Robin and company come upon an ambush intended to kill the king and Robin is tasked with returning the sword of Robert of Loxley. From here Robin gets embroiled in one lie after another that takes him and his friends on a grand adventure.
As far as action/adventure movies go, Robin Hood was in good hands. Scott has a knack for gritty realistic battle sequences and Robin Hood is no different. It is not much of a surprise that the marketing is tying itself to the team of Crowe and Scott and their history with Gladiator because this version of Robin Hood is quite similar in its presentation. What Robin Hood is not though, is as good as Gladiator.
Where the film fails is in its presentation of the story. So much happens over the course of the film yet so little of it is shown on screen, which may leave viewers scratching their heads after the nearly 150 minute run time expires. Alliances are forged and discarded at the drop of a hat while most of the film is spent building up a relationship between Crowe’s Robin and Cate Blanchett’s Marion. To its credit the film is able to portray a believable love between Robin and Marion mostly due to the performances but also because Scott chooses to focus so much on it.
I can not exactly call it an odd choice for how the writers chose to proceed as Marion and Robin’s love affair is as much synonymous with the legend as Robin robbing from the rich to give to the poor but when the screenplay implicates that Robin was the driving force for the Magna Carta you would think that more time would be spent on exploring that side of this story or any of the other threads for that matter. Robin Hood came to the screen with so many different plot threads, including one involving the Sheriff of Nottingham that is completely wasted, it is nearly amazing that the editing crew was able to cut it to two and a half hours.
I know this sounds like a mess of a film but even so it succeeds because of Crowe. He has a drive and passion for this character that makes one believe that England would follow him to the ends of the earth if he required it. Make no mistake Robin Hood is an enjoyable film and one that fans of the legend or the genre, like me, will enjoy quite a bit for others you may do better to re-watch Gladiator.
4 out of 5